I’m watching Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s 2008 documentary “The Garden,” a film about urban farmers in South Central Los Angeles and their fight against developers.
And I’m nearly speechless.
For 14 years, 350 familes grew their own food on this 14 acres, once scorched by riots and pain. It was the largest community garden in the U.S.
In 2006, the garden was bulldozed – all 150 plant species – and plans are underway to build a Forever 21 warehouse and distribution center on this land. This, even though the farmers had raised the money to buy the property from the developer. He’s on record as saying, his words smacking of self-righteous privilege, “Even if they raised $100 million, this group could not buy this property… It’s not about money. It’s about I don’t like their cause and I don’t like their conduct. So there’s no price I would sell it to them for.”
A flood of words get jammed in my fingers when I try to express how I feel about this. Did I mention that most of these farmers are Latinos and Latinas from the community? Are you surprised?
What I can manage to stammer is that this is the mark of everything wrong about the United States, about our dominator society. This is a prime example of what will destroy our national soul.
In the movie, there is footage of heavily armed police officers storming through tall rows of vegetables. If it were fiction, it would be hilarious. But it’s real, and it’s powerful and embarrassing.
The footage of carefully tended, productive, green vegetables, fruits, herbs, being torn up to put in concrete buildings just wrecks me. I feel that loss viscerally, and it makes me hungry for the social upending that will bring in a nurturing, partnership society. Right NOW.