That old saying about not knowing what you got unil it's gone is often not true at all. It certainly wasn't true for a group of residents in South Central Los Angeles, who built a 14-acre urban farm in the middle of their downtown. Unfortunately, it would not last forever. The city of Los Angeles sold the land to a developer well under market value, and the garden was razed in 2006.
The community, mostly Latin American immigrants, knew what they had before it was gone, and fought in the streets and in City Hall to keep their farm. Ther fight is an inspiration to anyone concerned with food security and the creation of community-based healthy lifesytles in American cities.
This tragic story is told in "The Garden," an Academy Award-nominated documentary by Scott Hamilton Kennedy. There is going to be a screening of this film this Thursday, April 30 at 5:45 at the Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland. After the film, there wil be a panel discussion with Rufina Juarez and Tezozomoc, two of the farm's leaders featured in the film. The event is sponsored by the Public Health Institute, The Oakland Food Policy Council, and The California Food and Justice Coalition. It is free, though donations to the CFJC are encouraged.
It is important to come out and see this. It is a reminder to all of us to value what access we do have to good food, and to never stop fighting to keep it.