Save the Garden

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Visual Stimulation

The first thing you see when you come to the farm is a slightly dilapadated chain-link fence. On that fence are messages to the world from the community. It definitely creates a sense of strength as you walk in and that feeling is only solidified as you shake the hands of community members, farmers and their families. This has been their land for 14 years and they have farmed it as their own since 1992. It's a key and vital part of the community fabric too and the idea of simply "displacing" the over 300 families that depend on it seems not only cruel but absolutely wrong.

The message in this picture is directed to mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who coincedently just won a run-off against former LA Police Department Chief James Hahn. Villaraigosa visited the families at the farm, spent a few hours talking and hearing their story. I hope Villaraigosa is watching this event unfold. You can send a letter to the mayor at the South Central Farmers website.

Ralph Horowitz, the owner of the land, doesn't have a very friendly Google Scorecard. See for yourself: and there's got to be 5 pages of damaging press coverage of the guy. I was banking on a wiki entry on him but I guess it hasn't gotten that far....yet.

For a complete history of the land deal checkout the second post on LA Weekly's forum section.

Meanwhile, Horowitz protested the 1994 sale to the Port Authority, claiming he had right of first refusal in the event of any sale. He took his objection to court several times, only to be told he had no legal claim. Nevertheless (and this is where the murkiness comes in), at some point — at a time difficult to ascertain, since, said Tezo, “it was never disclosed to people like myself” — Horowitz repurchased the land from the city for only a few hundred-thousand dollars more than he sold it for in 1986. In short order, the Food Bank was told that the farmers would have to vacate the premises to make way for warehouses and soccer fields. Throughout this transaction, the farmers, the people using the land, received no notice that anything was afoot.

We're uprooting one of the country's most established and largest urban gardens and displacing 350 families who depend on them for soccer fields? Soccer fields in south central L.A. no less. Thanks to Michelle Huneven from the LA Weekly for the piece.

1 Comments:

  • New Standard News, 4/5/06

    http://newstandardnews.net/content/index.cfm/items/3028

    - The best account I've seen about the legal conflict over ownership.

    By Anonymous nahlej, at 12:44 AM  

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