a few years back i worked on a documentary about some trees that were being transported from a south central dirt lot in los angeles to huntington botanical gardens in san marino thanks to the annenberg foundation. it was june of 2007, and i had just moved to downtown los angeles the previous fall, so i was pretty stoked that i had such a short drive to work, but when i showed up to 41st and alameda, less than a 10 minute drive south, i really had no idea what had inhabited this plot of land not so long ago. sadly i didn’t know much about the back story. i am sure at the time i was told what the project was about, but in the midst of a 14 hour day in the dirt, heat, and running my ass off loading film, it really came down to a paycheck and not the cause.

i do remember thinking what a cool thing that they were saving these trees and transporting them to the huntington gardens. i also remember absolutely loving the lunch. it was some of the most authentic and delicious mexican food i have ever had.

(even back then i was taking pictures of my food.)

i remember the passion of the filmmakers, and after a very long day, the director made a point to come up to each of the crew personally and thank us. that just doesn’t happen all that often.

cut to present day, when i have developed an interest in making my own garden while living in an urban setting. i hear about a documentary called the garden, which is about the south central farm. i vaguely remember my friend rafiel (who also worked on on the tree documentary) telling me that it was somehow connected to the one we worked on. it was nominated for an oscar and i like documentaries, so i biked up to old bank dvd and rented it. tears welled up in my eyes within 5 minutes. this was the precursor to the tree documentary that i had worked on a few years back.

after watching the garden, i was pretty frustrated and pissed off. i was amazed that jan perry, my city council woman, and ralph horowitz, the owner, had full control over whether or not they were going to let these farmers continue and stay, and that they let their egos and greed direct them.

this was one of the biggest urban gardens in the country covering 14 acres. members of rage against the machine helped to raise money at a benefit concert, and celebrities such as daryl hannah, joan biaz, and danny glover tried to make a difference, by locking themselves to trees and making calls to the mayor. when the annenberg foundation offered to purchase the land for the 16.3 million dollars mr. horowitz was asking for it, he said in an interview with nbc4,

“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.”

what a prick.

some of the farmers have moved on.

ultimately, what an amazing venture, to have an urban garden of such substance in los angeles, and really, in one of the more industrial areas. it’s really too bad it had to go. it has been almost 5 years since the farmers were evicted. this what the lot looks like today:

clearly mr. horowitz has put his land to good use.

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