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Posts Tagged ‘South Central Farm’

You know when you read a book or see a movie and it sticks with you for days?  I recently had that experience with a documentary entitled “The Garden.” The film opens with views of South Central Los Angeles.  You can see the skyline, the buildings, cement everywhere.  Then, in the middle of the monochromatic grays, a sudden burst of verdant green.   In a previous life, this 14-acre plot of green was the scene of the Rodney King trial riots.  After the riots, and billions of dollars of damage, those 14 acres were left to sit.  Some bulldozing was done, but the site was definitely not fertile or garden-ready.  In July 1994, the land was sold to a private, not-for-profit, food-distribution network to use the land as a community garden.  This community garden eventually became South Central Farm.  The idea was that a low-income family could receive a plot of land on which to garden and provide food for themselves.  The South Central Farmers cleaned up what was left behind by the bulldozers, brought in soil to cover the cement and packed dirt, and began to plant.  On a land once rife with violence and destruction, a garden was grown.  Then, in 2001, the ownership of the land came into question and the South Central Farmers were threatened with eviction.  The film is charged with racial tension (most of the farmers appeared to be of Latin American descent), political corruption, and the South Central Farmers organizing to fight for their rights.   As these farmers struggled for the right to remain on the land, and later to outright buy the land from the owner, I kept hoping for justice to prevail.  Unfortunately, greed and prejudice was the order of the day.  Even though enough money was raised to meet the owner’s asking price, the owner then refused to sell to the South Central Farmers, who then had to watch as their gardens were bulldozed in front of their eyes.  At the end of the film, several years after the conflict, the land was bare of all green and no buildings had been built – it was an empty and unused plot of land.  This film really makes one think about individual rights versus the rights of a community, greed, corruption, and racism.  It made me wonder what kind of person refuses to allow people to garden on an otherwise unused plot of land in order to feed themselves.  This documentary was gripping and I can easily understand why it was an Oscar nominee.  I give it 2 thumbs up and highly recommend giving it a try.

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