5th ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEMOLITION OF THE SOUTH CENTRAL FARM IN LOS ANGELES
COMMUNITY VISIONING ART & VIGIL – SATURDAY, JUNE 11, 2011
Council member Jan Perry Refuses to Meet with Farmers to restore the South Central Farm
*Award-winning documentary “Save the Farm” to anchor day by screening at 8:30pm*
What: On Saturday, June 11, the South Central Farmers and their supporters will gather for the fifth time to remember the demolition of the South Central Farm and renew their promise to restore the land for family food production: “Aqui estamos y no nos vamos.” The Farmers invite the broader Los Angeles community to join them in celebrating the Farm and the promise of green space for poor neighborhoods and urban communities by participating in “Community Visioning Art and Vigil,” an all day event starting at 11:00 a.m. and ending around 9:00 p.m.
“Save the Farm,” screening at 8:30pm, tells the story of how the local community came together in 2006 to fight for the land they depended on for their survival. The documentary focuses on the 11th hour tree sit organized by the Farmers and environmental activists Julia Butterfly Hill and John Quigley who were joined by actors Daryl Hannah, Alicia Silverstone, Amy Smart, Martin Sheen, Danny Glover and Laura Dern as well as musicians such as Willie Nelson, Tom Morello, Joan Baez, Ben Harper and many other creative talents, musicians and politicians. (Available on digital platforms this month via Cinema Libre Studio, http://www.savethefarmmovie.com/)
Where: Between Long Beach Ave and Alameda Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90058
When: Saturday, 6/11 – 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Who: Available for interview, Tezozomoc, Spokesperson for the Farmers & Michael Kuehnert, Director of “Save The Farm”
Why: This year could be the last year the Farmers and their supporters celebrate and remember the South Central Farm on the site of the Farm at 41st Avenue and Alameda. It seems likely that by 2012, the land will have another owner. The question is whether the owner will be adding another bleak warehouse to the manufacturing wasteland of the area, or whether the occupants will be neighborhood farmers, restoring family farming and green space to mitigate the environmental destruction of the industrialization encroaching on their playgrounds and schools. It’s a subject Los Angeles City Councilmember Jan Perry won’t discuss with the Farmers.
11:00 am 4:00 pm Community Visioning and Mural Painting
12:00 am 2:00 pm Community bicycle ride from Downtown LA, Boyle Heights, MacArthur Park to the South Central Farm (meet at 41st and Alameda)
2:00 pm 5:00 pm Bike Repair and Maintenance Workshop (bring your broken bikes)
Traditional Flower Staffs Making Workshop (come work with flowers)
5:00 pm 6:00 pm South Central Farm Produce Cooking Demo and Potluck (BYO)
6:00 pm 7:00 pm Youth Art Presentation
SCF Site Plan Presentation
7:00 pm 8:00 pm Poetry/Music/Palabra from the Heart
Community Story Sharing
8:00 pm 8:30 pm Danza Azteca Ceremony in all directions and Candlelight Vigil
8:30 pm 9:00 pm Special Screening with Director Michael Kuehnert of “Save the Farm”
The property at 41st and Alameda is in escrow, and the developer, Ralph Horowitz, has said that he will sell the land to the Farmers if they can raise the money. That challenge has rekindled the dream of restoring the South Central Farm, and the Farmers have turned to area benefactors for assistance. However, raising the money from non-profit foundations has stalled because of the interference of the district’s councilmember, Jan Perry. Perry, who originally orchestrated the sale of the city-owned land out from under the Farmers, now refuses to meet with the Farmers or give her approval to the restoration of the Farm. Potential investors in the Farm are shy of proceeding with what they perceive as reluctance from city government.
Meanwhile, Perry has been busy whipping up support from major downtown developers for her mayoral campaign. Perry has been soliciting campaign dollars from local moguls who have worked with Perry to create a cultural mecca in the section of Perry’s district that encompasses downtown Los Angeles. The less glamorous part of her district, in low-wealth South Los Angeles, has seen little in the way of quality of life improvements. Perry has brought the area a patchwork of strip malls while showing little interest in her constituents’ concerns and desires for improved access to city amenities. No where has this been more evident than in her transfer of the South Central Farm to a developer. The Farm was a concession to the community by Mayor Tom Bradley in 1992, after much of the South Central area exploded in rebellion at the inequitable treatment of poor and minority communities in Los Angeles.
The story of the South Central Farm has entered the annals of Angelenos’ battle for green space, alongside the Cornfields, Chavez Ravine, Taylor Yard, and the Ballona Wetlands, except that the Farmers have halted development on the land for the past five years. In the early morning of June 13, 2006, thousands of people poured into the low-income neighborhood and clutched the chain link fence around the Farm and wept from across the street to witness the sheriffs in jackboots storm across the carefully crafted rows of herbs, cactus, and vegetables. The City forcibly removed protestors who had camped on the land and clung to platforms in tree branches in defiance of an eviction order. Forty-four were arrested. Television cameras from around the country recorded the destruction of nearly twenty years of family farming, and on the noonday news, millions watched as fire trucks uprooting trees and rolled across plots cultivated by parents and their children.
Since then, the Farmers and the community around the land have been in a standoff with developer Ralph Horowitz, demanding that any construction on the site include an Environmental Impact Report. That demand, carried to the City Planning Division in 2008, halted construction of a Forever 21 trucking and warehouse facility and any other construction until just over a month ago.
Since the announcement of the potential sale, the South Central Farmers are waiting for Perry to return their phone call. If it comes, the South Central Farm could be a reality once more.
Photos: Remembering the fight of the South Central Farmers | Opinion L.A. | Los Angeles Times
Two TV news stories from SCF’s 2006 showdown w/property developer:
Daryl Hannah Takes to Trees to Save a Farm – ABC News
Cops Arrest Tree-Sitters In L.A. – CBS News
For additional information on the Farm and the contact: