Destruction in the Amazon. Clear-cutting of virgin forests. These are sad, infuriating events, but they can also seem distant – even abstract. How about the wanton destruction of a thriving Los Angeles community garden? Now that brought me to tears.
Who owns the land?
In 1992, after the Los Angeles riots, a 14-acre community garden was formed in an industrial section of South Central LA. Over 350 families banded together to create an urban paradise and grow their own food in the middle of a largely forgotten and blighted concrete jungle.
There was only one problem. Although they were clearly stewards of the land, they never legally owned it. Thus began a saga that played out for years and garnered the active support of the likes of Daryl Hannah. The families had been granted a revocable license to use the lot, but in 2004 the original owner decided to sell it and a few years later bulldozed the lush gardens (watch the heartbreaking video and you’ll be moved to tears) to build another warehouse in an already industrial part of town. The gardeners banded together as the South Central Farmers and protested to save their community gardens, but it wasn’t to be. The story is poignantly told in the Academy Award nominated documentary entitled The Garden.
Adding insult to injury, the proposed warehouse to be built on the now bulldozed and barren lot is a storage and distribution center for Forever 21. The South Central Farmers are working hard to stop that from happening too, and if possible, reclaim their beloved land to create paradise once again.
Listen to Joni Mitchell: Big Yellow Taxi