hort.net Seasonal photo, (c) 2006 Christopher P. Lindsey, All Rights Reserved: do not copy
articles | gallery of plants | blog | tech blog | plant profiles | patents | mailing lists | top stories | links | shorturl service | tom clothier's archive0
Gallery of Plants
Tech Blog
Plant Profiles
Mailing Lists
    Search ALL lists
    Search help
    Subscription info
Top Stories
sHORTurl service
Tom Clothier's Archive
 Top Stories
Disease could hit Britain's trees hard

Ten of the best snowdrop cultivars

Plant protein database helps identify plant gene functions

Dendroclimatologists record history through trees

Potato beetle could be thwarted through gene manipulation

Hawaii expands coffee farm quarantine

Study explains flower petal loss

Unauthorized use of a plant doesn't invalidate it's patent

RSS story archive

Fwd: [SCFs] SCFs Make Cover of LA CITY BEAT!

  • Subject: [cg] Fwd: [SCFs] SCFs Make Cover of LA CITY BEAT!
  • From: David King learninggardenmaster@yahoo.com
  • Date: Thu, 26 Jan 2006 21:30:16 -0800 (PST)

I hope this comes through ungarbled - this is from the
email list of Los Angeles' South Central Farmers - you
will find their struggle to keep their gardens
compelling.  This is not a short article, but it is
worth reading.

Sorry I don't have the ability to send it in its
original format.


--- southcentralfarmers@electrolandia.com wrote:

> To: <southcentralfarmers@electrolandia.com>
> Date: Thu, 26 Jan 2006 18:45:13 +0000
> From: southcentralfarmers@electrolandia.com
> Subject: [SCFs] SCFs Make Cover of LA CITY BEAT!
> Trouble in the GardenThe 350 families who banded
> together as the South Central Farmers transformed an
> industrial dump into a jungle paradise. But now
> theyre being evicted~ By DEAN KUIPERS ~
> Photo by Steve ApplefordLet it rain: John Brown, 11,
> helps farmer Lucino Cardozo and his son, Enrique, 11
> Aqui estamos y no nos vamos! (Were here and were
> not leaving!)sign hanging on the fence at South
> Central Farm 
> Hear the birds? Where else in L.A. do you hear that
> many birds? says Tezozomoc  pronounced tesomoke,
> or teso for short  an energetic, well-spoken
> Latino man with an ancient-sounding name. He halts a
> discussion with a class visiting from the Pacific
> Oaks School in Pasadena, a seminar in bicultural
> development, to point into the thick, jungle-like
> foliage behind him. 
> We create like this biosphere bubble here, with all
> of this vegetation, he adds. We have 500 trees. We
> have lizards  
> Snakes? asks one of the students, eyes wide open. 
> Only politicians, he laughs. But what we call our
> other relations depend on this space, too. 
> The space is the South Central Community Farm, a
> 14-acre community garden just south of downtown
> smack on Alameda Street, right up alongside the
> industrial warehouses of the City of Vernon. The
> contrast with community gardens elsewhere in the
> city is shocking. These arent tiny weekend projects
> with a few tomatoes and California poppies. The 330
> spaces here are large, 20 X 30 feet, many of them
> doubled- and tripled-up into larger plots, crammed
> with a tropical density of native Mesoamerican
> plants  full-grown guava trees, avocados,
> tamarinds, and palms draped in vines bearing huge
> pumpkins and chayotes, leaf vegetables, corn, seeds
> like chipilin grown for spice, and rank upon rank of
> cactus cut for nopales. The families who work these
> plots are all chosen to receive one because they are
> impoverished by USDA standards, and use them to
> augment their household food supply. These are
> survival gardens. 
> The thick chains, padlocks, and security on the
> entry gates are evidence that these gardens are
> something more, too. Since Los Angeles developer
> Ralph Horowitz took control of the property in late
> 2003, they have become a symbol of resistance. The
> farmers, who have now been working these plots since
> 1992, were given eviction notices in 2004 and are
> suing everyone involved  Horowitz, the city, and
> original permit-holder the L.A. Regional Food Bank,
> whose massive building sits next door just across
> 41st Street  in an effort to turn the block into a
> new city park that would include continued
> gardening. 
> And if that was all it was about, this would just be
> another squatter land dispute. But the reason
> teacher Roberto Flores and his students from Pacific
> Oaks are here, and why activists and academics from
> Bolivia and Venezuela and Palestine and a
> land-holding corporation from Colorado and the
> Italy-based International Alliance of Inhabitants
> have descended on the place is because it has become
> a model for community land-use. Its formal
> decision-making structure, park planning, political
> outreach, and indefatigable presence at City Hall 
> theyve spoken at every City Council meeting this
> year  have transformed the place into a democracy
> workshop. 
> Tezozomoc, one of two elected leaders who represent
> the farmers to the city, insists that the political
> and educational battle is now the point. An academic
> himself, working toward a masters in Linguistics at
> California State University, Northridge, he
> addresses the students in their own language. 
> In human development, we talk about a heuristic,
> right? A tool or strategy that leads you toward a
> solution. If you have tools, then tools lead to new
> theories. Look whats happening here. So, giving
> people this tool  the land  leads to new
> solutions. 
> The gardens, he emphasizes, are a safety net
> program. First and foremost, they feed needy people.
> But, within the democratic process here, part of
> the work that we do is to develop people with the
> ability to be leaders in their communities. We had
> some people here who have come out and become part
> of the neighborhood councils, and others who
> advocate on behalf of people. That is actually what
> is more important: Its not only about saving this
> project, but to develop people with a conscience so
> that they can stand up for what they believe. 
> A Sweet Deal
> Fernando Flores, a young architect who is working on
> future plans for South Central Farm, points out that
> this food safety net program is an extraordinarily
> cheap one  the city provides nothing to the farmers
> and they foot all the bills DIY for water, trash
> service, security, and farming supplies. In fact, it
> is expensive for only one guy: Ralph Horowitz. 
> Horowitz is less than impressed by all the
> empowerment overlay on the political occupation of
> the Farm. If the farmers have all been getting a
> crash political education for the last two years, he
> has been paying for it. The mortgage on the property
> is roughly $30,000 a month, he says, plus theres
> insurance, property taxes, and the legal costs hes
> accrued trying to defend against the farmers
> lawsuit. 
> Theyve had the use of it going on 14 years!
> Horowitz exclaims. Even welfare recipients are
> asked, after so many years, to start to fend for
> yourself and stop asking your fellow taxpayers to
> carry you. These particular individuals should be
> thanking the city of Los Angeles  and suing the
> city isnt the way to thank em. 
> Still, one figures that Horowitz knows what hes
> doing. Maybe its cost him a million bucks to own
> the plot at Alameda and 41st for the last two years,
> but he got a very sweet deal on the property. Even
> if he decides in the end to sell it back to the
> city, he might make eight or ten million in profit.
> And there are some real questions as to why the deal
> happened that way. 
> Horowitz owned this same property once before, when
> the gardens saga really began, in the late-1980s.
> These two city blocks  40th Street runs down the
> middle of the garden, but has been choked off on
> either end by fences  were seized by eminent domain
> to make way for the citys Lancer Project, a
> waste-to-energy incinerator that would have
> generated electricity by burning trash. Horowitzs
> Alameda-Barbara Investment Company was the largest
> of nine co-owners and received $4.7 million in
> compensation after a lawsuit was settled. 
> But there was some fine print. Since Horowitzs
> company owned about 80 percent of the original
> property, he claimed he had right of first refusal
> on the property if the city decided to sell it. 
> And in fact, thats exactly what happened. A group
> called Concerned Citizens of South Central got up in
> arms about the incinerator plan, and the city backed
> away from it, letting the property become an ad hoc
> dump, full of discarded couches and refrigerators.
> In 1992, after the Rodney King riots brought some
> City Hall attention to bear (albeit briefly) on what
> was then called South Central L.A., the L.A.
> Regional Food Bank approached the city and secured a
> revocable permit to use the property as a community
> garden. 
> When we first started out trying to get low-income
> residents to come to the property, we actually had a
> tough time, because nobody would believe that
> somebody would let you come and garden for free,
> says Darren Hoffman, communications manager at the
> Food Bank. But once we got a couple people on
> there, word spread like wildfire. 
> The 14 acres were split into 330 plots, and the Food
> Bank tested the soil for safety and set up the
> trash, toilet, and water arrangements that still
> cost each family only $13 a month. Considering that
> most plots were worked by a family of four or more,
> they were directly affecting anywhere from
> 1,300-to-2,000 people. But the paperwork with the
> city was explicit: It could pull the plug at any
> time. 
> Originally, we were thinking temporary  we thought
> this would be like a two-year project. But two years
> turns into 13-14 years, and nobody sees it as a
> temporary project anymore, says Hoffman. 
> In 1994, the citys Department of Public Works,
> which was going to build the incinerator, sold the
> property to the Harbor Department for over $13
> million. That sale was later ruled illegal and
> reversed. 
> In 1995, the city began negotiations with Horowitz,
> who wanted to buy the land back, this time as the
> Libaw-Horowitz Investment Company. An agreement
> finally went before the City Council, which refused
> to adopt the sale. In 2002, Horowitz sued for
> failure to execute the sale agreement, his second
> suit with the city over this property. 
> In August 2003, the City Council finally approved
> the terms of a sale in a closed session, awarding it
> to Horowitz for $5.05 million. In essence, selling
> it back to him for as much as it was worth during
> the eminent domain process in the late-80s.
> Eviction notices were sent out the next month to the
> farmers working the land. 
> Since the 1980s, however, big changes would have
> greatly increased the value of that land. City,
> state, and federal governments had spent $2 billion
> building the Alameda Corridor, a modern rail and
> big-truck super-pipeline from the Port of Los
> Angeles straight through the warehouses of South
> L.A. and Vernon. This was now hot property. 
> All the goods that are for Wal-Mart are going out
> to the Southwest from here, from Long Beach and from
> the L.A. Port, notes Tezozomoc, pointing at Alameda
> Street. About 70 percent of the product that comes
> into the Long Beach 44 port is destined for
> Wal-Mart. 
> The land, the farmers argue, was clearly worth a lot
> more than $5 million. Nine years earlier, the city
> had paid $13 million just to transfer the land from
> one department to another, so even using that as
> lowball number, Horowitz had received an
> eight-million-dollar break. 
> And then there was this matter of the right of first
> refusal. Judge Lawrence W. Crispo ruled several
> times against Horowitz, saying that a landlord could
> not negotiate a right of refusal on a condemned
> property  which is what an eminent domain seizure
> is, a court condemnation. But the City Attorneys
> office, which offered e-mailed responses from
> attorneys via spokesman Frank Mateljan to questions
> submitted about this situation, said the
> Libaw-Horowitz right of refusal was negotiated and
> became part of the stipulated judgment in
> condemnation. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo urged
> the City Council to concede and sell the property to
> Horowitz. 
> That just doesnt hold, though, says Tezozomoc.
> Go back to the original case of Chavez Ravine,
> right? 
> Chavez Ravine was an impoverished Mexican
> neighborhood of hundreds of households overlooking
> downtown L.A. that was condemned to make way for
> low-income housing to be built by Richard Neutra.
> If that was the case, if the city changed its mind
> about building low-income housing there, then they
> would have had to give the land back to each one of
> those families, the original owners  which they
> didnt, adds Tezozomoc. Who did they give it to?
> The Dodgers. 
> Still, the farm deal was sealed in early 2004, and
> Libaw-Horowitz sent out notices that the gardens
> would be closed as of February 29, 2004. The Food
> Bank agreed to begin tearing out the plants and
> interior fences. 
> We were supposed to return the property in the way
> we received it, said Hoffman. So all of the
> interior fencing would have to go  and, basically,
> all of the foliage. 
> The Food Bank became our enemy, says Tezozomoc.
> We have gained a lot of enemies. 
> Before these notices had even hit the fences, the
> farmers formed a political committee, South Central
> Farmers Feeding Families. Elected representatives
> met with Horowitz. 
> Well, I own it, so Ive been by numerous times just
> to see what goes on, Horowitz says. They called
> me, and acknowledged that Id just bought the
> property, and they asked me if they could stay on it
> another 60 days rent-free. And I said yes. 
> That gave the farmers just enough time to file a
> lawsuit against Horowitz et al., and get an
> injunction, allowing them to stay on the property
> until the suit was resolved. And to buy chains and
> padlocks. 
> ~ Direct Democracy ~
> Alberto and Maribel Tlatoa grew up on their plot at
> South Central Farm. The Tlatoa family has been
> growing food there for eight years, and now Alberto,
> 19, has become one of the elected captains of the
> occupation. He and his sister Maribel, 21, are
> sleeping on the property at least one night a week,
> standing guard, while still going to college  a
> perfect example of the new level of sophistication
> enlivening the farm community. Most of the farmers
> are impoverished immigrants, many still speaking the
> indigenous languages of the Guatemalan highlands or
> growing treasured 5,000-year-old heirloom corn seeds
> brought from Puebla, the heartland of Mexican
> culture. Many of them cant afford to be involved,
> politically. But the kids learn to speak English,
> and learn to make themselves heard. Alberto goes to
> East Los Angeles College and has been to City
> Council meetings every week for a year solid. 
> They know who I am, he says softly. Every week he
> has his name on the list to speak. Hes glad that
> new City Council President Eric Garcetti has moved
> the public comment to the start of the weekly
> meeting, because now he only spends a half-day there
> instead of getting out late. (City Councilmember Jan
> Perry, whose district includes the farm, declined to
> comment for this story, citing the ongoing lawsuit.)
> Tezozomoc is proud of Alberto, saying, He wants to
> be mayor of L.A. one day. 
> Alberto and Maribel turn up to give a tour to the
> Pacific Oaks class and answer their questions. Its
> a day of hard winter sun, and a light breeze flaps a
> row of 20 flimsy-looking tents that stretch along
> 40th Street. Alberto is on duty every Monday night,
> standing around a burn barrel for warmth. I play
> the radio real loud at night, he smiles. 
> Their duties are now pretty well defined. Theres a
> General Assembly meeting every week, where all 350
> or so families can vote on farm matters like marches
> or buying a generator. The captains hear concerns
> and are in charge of security and logistics.
> Tezozomoc and Rufina Juarez are the elected
> representatives interacting with lawyers and city
> officials. And then there is a massive outreach
> campaign in which everyone does his or her part,
> bringing in supporters, money, and outside
> organizing expertise. 
> We used to just like work on a little parcel, do
> our little gardening thing, then just go home, says
> Maribel. We would interact, but mainly just like
> neighbors. But now, since the whole movement,
> sometimes we vote and we gather and tell stories. 
> She means the farm community, of course, but also
> the Latino and indigenous Mesoamerican community.
> Especially being in South Central, with all the
> gang violence and everything  we dont go out much
> in the community due to that. But now the whole
> movement has brought the community together. 
> Alberto says that Mesoamerican community was one of
> the reasons why their parents remained committed to
> the place. The farming was necessary for their
> family of six to survive, but it quickly took on
> another function. Our parents always wanted us to
> learn these farms were not just about putting
> something in our mouths, but to learn to grow our
> culture, he adds. 
> Strangely, other demographics are barely
> represented. There are few blacks, fewer anglos or
> Asians. Perhaps that represents some kind of
> accurate picture of who would garden for food these
> days, but the gardens show a shocking cultural
> homogeneity. 
> This 200 or 300 people wanted to get this property
> for themselves, explains Horowitz. Thats the
> purpose of their lawsuit. 
> Its not like a park, where you and your wife and
> your child can go into a park and use any of its
> facilities, at any time. These farmers are gardening
> these plots exclusively. As long as theyre standing
> on there, you cant use the property. This is not a
> public function. 
> In fact, the park is not even open now, except on
> Sundays for a farmers market. The farmers, it
> seems, are acutely aware of this perception, and if
> they can save the gardens as a city park, they are
> prepared to make big changes. Fernando Flores has
> already mapped them out. 
> Flores, 25, was not, like Tezo and the others,
> someone who grew up on South Central Farm. Last
> year, he was living in Ontario and going to
> California State Polytechnic University, Pomona for
> architecture when one of his mentors there brought
> him over to see the farm. He saw the potential to
> give his work a political perspective, and made it
> his architecture thesis project to redesign the
> place as a public park. 
> You want to check it out? Its in the back of my
> truck, he says, opening the back of a big black
> SUV. 
> His model represents about a quarter of the actual
> land now occupied by the farm, and represents a
> clear answer to those who say its not a public
> place. A central plaza, surrounded by farm plots,
> would feature a square of low buildings with a stage
> area. 
> We just finished this this past summer: A hybrid
> park, he says. This is a community center. We have
> offices, in case we want to have doctors. We have
> health fairs, here. If you want to have social
> services, as well. 
> One of the things that is lacking in South Central
> is, people dont have access to like a community
> center where they can have theater or they can have
> a public event like a concert, right? says
> Tezozomoc. The farm already has a stage set up,
> where bands like Ozomatli and former Rage Against
> the Machine singer Zach de la Rocha have played, and
> has a $5 punk show going on the 27th called Disfest.
> So its a way to help our talent, and our youth,
> and our community. And thats really what the basis
> of this project has been. 
> Flores is now co-chair of the Support Committee,
> networking with community activists outside the
> farm. This is the stuff that you read about and
> watch films about in school, says Flores, walking
> through the plots, chatting with people working here
> and there. I never imagined this would become my
> focus. But this is a movement thats growing out of
> a seed right now. 
> ~ Far from over ~
> Late on a Sunday afternoon, the farmers market is
> just closing up. They dont sell produce on South
> Central Farm  although individual farmers might
> sell you a pumpkin or slice off some cactus for you,
> if you ask  but Sunday vendors do make hot food to
> whip up a little cash. There are quesadillas
> calabasitas (squash), tacos, fried plantains with
> sweetened cream and shaved cheese, and super-sweet
> tamarindo and hibiscus drinks. Only a few dozen
> people mill about, but theres still time to have a
> huarache  like the shoe, a vendor explains  a
> folded pastry filled with squash and smothered in
> sticky nopales, white cheese, beans, and hot chili
> sauce. A lot of this prepared food comes from
> outside the gardens, including the chicken or pork;
> they dont raise any livestock there. 
> The place is tranquil, smelling gorgeously of
> cilantro and hoja santo, a leaf used to wrap tamales
> which gives off a perfume like licorice when you rub
> it. If it werent for the frequent passage of Metro
> trains bombing past on their way to Long Beach, you
> could almost forget these gardens were in the middle
> of a heavy industrial district. 
> On June 30, 2005, a state appeals court overturned
> the Superior Court injunction on the property,
> giving Horowitz the right to remove the farmers.
> That was immediately appealed to the California
> Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case in
> October. Some elements of the farmers case,
> however, are still alive in the courts. Part of
> their suit claimed the city violated municipal code
> by selling the land cheap to Horowitz and partners
> Jacob Libaw and Timothy Ison. And Judge Helen Bendix
> had refused to allow the farmers to depose Libaw and
> Ison  but was recently reversed by a higher court.
> So, that part of the case moves forward. 
> We are going to write another Temporary Restraining
> Order, because now, were saying you cannot destroy
> this because we need access to these other people,
> and then we have a good chance to win this, said
> Tezozomoc. Its not clear what information the other
> partners would have that might swing the case in
> favor of the farmers. But on the day Tezozomoc was
> meeting with the class from Pacific Oaks, he said he
> was spending the night with the lawyers to get
> that next TRO ready to file. 
> If its not already too late. On January 13,
> Tezozomoc and the captains among the South Central
> Farmers were gearing up for what they thought might
> be an imminent raid by L.A. County Sheriff deputies.
> According to the e-mailed responses from the City
> Attorneys Office, Horowitzs company has sued the
> L.A. Regional Food Bank for unlawful detainer, since
> they were the group administering the gardens, and
> once thats settled, the eviction might begin. A
> judgment is anticipated this week in the unlawful
> detainer case, said the Monday e-mail from city
> attorneys. That case is between Libaw-Horowitz and
> the L.A. Regional Food Bank, which administers the
> garden. The Food Bank is not resisting. A judgment
> for possession can be enforced using the County
> Sheriff. 
> So the Food Bank, which Tezozomoc considers the
> farmers enemy, is all that is standing between
> them and eviction. The Food Banks Darren Hoffman
> says theyre not sure that, if the city were to take
> possession of the land again, their permit would
> still be in place or not. He says they have to wait
> for the quagmire in the courts to be settled. 
> From my window here, I can see this beautiful urban
> garden, says Hoffman. Wed be sad to see it go. It
> would definitely be a loss to the community. 
> Horowitz, for his part, says he would consider a
> buyout offer from the city. 
> I wouldnt agree with their rationale for doing it,
> but if they wanted to pay fair market value for the
> property to solve what they foresee is a problem, I
> wouldnt stand in the way, he says. 
> Meanwhile, the South Central Farmers are appealing
> to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has visited the
> site with his family, and to members of City
> Council, while they gear up for civil disobedience
> when and if the eviction comes. 
> Ive been so busy organizing I havent had time to
> eat my own produce, says Tezozomoc, snatching sweet
> guavas off a tree planted by his dad. I just want
> this place saved so I can get back to farming, get
> back to school, pay some bills. But this fights a
> long way from over.  
> 1-26-05
> Express yourself instantly with MSN Messenger!
> Download today it's FREE!
> Southcentralfarmers mailing list
> Southcentralfarmers@electrolandia.com

David King, Garden Master
  The Learning Garden   
  office  310.722.3656 

 A garden, where one may enter in and forget the whole world, 
 cannot be made in a week, nor a month, nor a year; it must
 be planned for, waited for and loved into being.

 Chinese Proverb

The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org

To post an e-mail to the list:  community_garden@mallorn.com

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your subscription:  https://secure.mallorn.com/mailman/listinfo/community_garden

 © 1995-2015 Mallorn Computing, Inc.All Rights Reserved.
Our Privacy Statement
Other Mailing lists | Author Index | Date Index | Subject Index | Thread Index