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Visiting the SCF: Report Back

by Michael Kozart Tuesday, Jul. 11, 2006 at 10:36 AM

Impressions from my second visit to the farm (I'm from Sonoma County)

Report Back From the Farm 7/10/06

In the midst of the sadness and devastation wrought by the bulldozers—the mechanical extensions of unfettered capitalism—there are still signs of life at the South Central Farm. On Friday a family who had all but given up hope of retrieving their newly hatched chickens discovered that several of the chicks had somehow survived the bulldozers—they were hiding under piles of uprooted plants. It was a moment of pure happiness, as the children embraced their pollitos. We all just had to laugh, seeing how much love spilled forth onto those scared little chickens. And even though much of the field has been trampled, tufts of corn and amaranth continue to stand here and there; and the earth is rich. While much has been lost, it can support a whole new generation of crops—if the farmers are given the chance.

I just got back from my second trip to the farm (I live in a small town in Sonoma County)—and these visits have been deeply transforming for me. It’s not just the knowledge of farming that I’m gaining; it’s the people—and their spirit—that has energized me. The South Central Farmers so want to tell their stories and spread their knowledge of herbs and crops and the struggle to save mother earth. The fight to bring food cultivation back into local communities, to continue traditions of indigenous farming, is one of the most vital things we can do to resist the encroachment of capitalism and globalization and petrol dependency. All this is brought out at the nightly vigils at the farm that start around 7 PM, and which draw together hundreds of farmers and allied activists. The vigils are not just informational—they are led by drums and chants and candles and burning sage: we are reminded that we are one people who share a deep commitment to save the earth from greed, ecological devastation and environmental racism. Another one of the core values in the vigils has been to honor those who have made sacrifices to defend the farm. The activists who have been arrested, who have risked their own bodies, to halt the bulldozers, have been celebrated and appreciated with tears and hugs. I have never participated in a collective that expressed so much respect for the few people who commit themselves to direct action. There’s a lot that we can learn from what is happening at the farm to enrich our other movements against war, racism, imperialism and globalization.

There is also hope. Beginning July 12, there will be a court case challenging

the city’s decision to sell the farm back to developer Horowitz several years ago—a deal that cleared the way for the eventual eviction order. Horowitz received the land at a fraction of its market cost in a backroom agreement that was by all accounts illegal and politically biased in favor of the developer. And there’s still hope that the city council will intervene and do what the mayor seems to have been unwilling to do—namely to table Horowtiz’s plans to “develop” the land into yet another warehouse. There’s every reason to believe that being at the farm will have an impact—it will let the city of LA know that the world is watching: there is overwhelmingly more wealth in a people’s farm than a privately owned warehouse.

I would urge people to come down to the farm and camp out. The logistics are so easy: just come with blankets or sleeping bags, and if you want to be very comfortable, bring a tent and some ear plugs (there are a lot of 18 wheel trucks rolling by at all hours of the night). There is space to spread a tent on the sidewalk—and there is plenty of wonderful company there too. Folks are bringing food to eat, and there is accessible water and bathroom facilities. Spending time at the farm—even just a day or two—gives you a new perspective on the urban environment as a space that can be reclaimed from private wealth and the pollution of capitalism, a space in which people can return to the land and rekindle their connections with the earth, plants and healthy food. And although the farmers are still locked out of their fields, there are new plantings around the sidewalk perimeter, and there is a tremendous need for people to maintain a presence around the farm to remind passers-by, LA and the entire world, that this farm is not going away.

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