For 12 days I have been living in a tree or a tent in the middle of South Central L.A. on the South Central Farm. I’ve been staying here 24/7 with dozens of other supporters including the inspiring Julia Butterfly Hill (who is on her 17th day of a water fast as a prayer for the farm) and John Quigley (another forest defender and tree sitter) who are trying to secure permanent protection for this beautiful oasis which is the largest urban farm in the United States.
Here are the facts – The land was given to the community in the aftermath of the ’92 riots. The south Central Farm feeds and sustains 350 farmers and their families as well as the outlying neighborhood. The land was sold to a developer by the city in 2003 for 5.1 million. There are plans to bulldoze the farm and put up a warehouse (most likely for a wal mart). There are three vacant warehouses across the street. The developer has said that he would sell the land back to the community for 16.3 million. This community is one of the lowest income neighborhoods in the nation. Last Tuesday the farmers received their notice of eviction; this is why we are here Our fund raising efforts have been going very well and lots of high profile people have been shining light on this wonderful place. This morning Danny Glover gave the most eloquent moving impassioned speech about the farms intrinsic value. His family were farmers. On his Right was Evelyn Knight the legendary civil rights activist. She is so wise and has a remarkable way of cutting right to the heart of the issue.
Being on the farm has been such an amazing ride, some days there have been literally thousands of people coming here show their support for the farm and walk in the daily candlelight vigil, the farmers, campesinos, celebrities, youth from the neighborhood, clergy members, people of all racial, economic and cultural backgrounds. Some days incredible bands come down to surprise us and play music, which has been fantastic for morale. For John, Julia and me in the tree, our days consist mostly of phone calls to raise awareness and funding and manning the community watchtower, which is what we call the huge walnut tree where we sit. For all of us volunteers there is a hose hooked up to a showerhead in a cornfield a sink and an impromptu kitchen with fresh food from the farm.
This farm is amazing! There are cabbage patches with cabbage as big as watermelons, 500 mature fruit trees, passion fruit vines, bananas, papayas, 5 colors of corn, sugar cane and countless heirlooms fruits, vegetables and medicinal plants. All this in the middle of South Central, LA!!!
The South Central Farm also is a crucial part of fostering a healthy community. It serves as an education center and provides a rare, safe haven for children. A place where they can learn from their parents and grandparents about their culture, food, nutrition, farming, family, values and fun. The farm also serves the community by sequestering carbon. We’re right in the middle of a diesel soup in the alameda corridor. It should be required by law to have fruitful green spaces, providing local food to offset greenhouse gasses!
Please come to visit the farm if you can. Donate money, if you have it. Call the city and state officials and voice your support for the South Central Farm. For more information visit www.SouthCentralFarmers.org.