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"It's so much more powerful to grow your own food. This is something we have to honor, because once this is gone,
people will not be able to feed themselves, and then what?"
- Actress/Activist, ALICIA SILVERSTONE

"It's a place of community, it's a place of reconnecting with nature, and people need to see what's going on
and see how special and grounding and nourishing that this place can be."
- Actress, AMY SMART

"These people depend on this food, they live from this food."

June 13, 2011 will mark the five-year "anniversary" since the eviction of the farmers from the South Central Farm in downtown Los Angeles. The award-winning documentary short film, SAVE THE FARM directed by Michael Kuehnert, will be released on digital platforms starting June 5, 2011 to commemorate the needless destruction of an important environmental and cultural oasis.

The South Central Farm (SCF) sprung up on an abandoned industrial area, approximately 14 acres. The land had been acquired in 1986 by the City of Los Angeles through eminent domain from developer Ralph Horowitz for $4.7 million. The land was to be used for an incinerator project, but the community voted it down, and the vacant lot became a dumping ground. After the Rodney King riots of 1992, Mayor Bradley mitigated the land to the community, and Doris Block, the President of the Food Bank, founded the farm. For fourteen years, the farm provided local, organic food and medicinal remedies for 350 families as well as thousands of area residents. At the weekly farmer's market, people could go into the farm plots and tell the farmers exactly what they wanted so that nothing went to waste.

In 2004, developer Ralph Horowitz, a partner in the company, Alameda-Barbara, which had owned the land before the City bought it, sued the City for breach of contract, for failure to honor a clause in the original right of repurchase contract. The courts ruled against him three times. But the city sold the land back to him in a deal that was not made public. Mr. Horowitz bought the land back for $5 million.

On January 8, 2004, Horowitz issued an eviction notice to the gardeners to terminate their work by February 29, 2004. In response, the South Central Farmers filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the sale of the property. The farmers lost the lawsuit. But the farmer's lawyer was able to obtain an injunction, which ran out in February of 2006, freeing Horowitz to evict the farmers.

Horowitz initially sought $16.3 million for the property, more than three times the 2003 purchase price.

The events of SAVE THE FARM take place during June 2006, as Horowitz tries to reclaim the land, believing that control of the property should be "market driven." Director Michael Kuehnert and crew arrived at the farm as the gardeners were informed that they were about to be bulldozed and are trying to raise the $16.3 million needed to save the farm. The farmers, with the support of environmental activists Julia Butterfly Hill and John Quigley decided to hold a tree sitting vigil eleventh-hour fundraising efforts continued to raise the balance of Horowitz's ransom while under the continued threat of forced eviction by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Actors Darryl Hannah, Alicia Silverstone, Amy Smart, Martin Sheen, Danny Glover and Laura Dern joined the fray as well as musicians Willie Nelson, Tom Morello, Joan Baez, Ben Harper and many other creative talents, musicians and politicians. They appeared at the numerous press conferences to lend their celebrity to the cause and speak out about the injustice, environmental short-sightedness and greed. On June 7, 2006, the Annenberg Foundation announced that they would provide $10 million toward the acquisition of the farm through The Trust For Public Land. The farmers successfully raised the $16.3 million. However, Horowitz turned down the offer. Ultimately, the County Sheriff's department surrounded the farm and over 40 people were arrested including Darryl Hannah and John Quigley.

For director Kuehnert, the situation with the farm and this film underscores a more global problem, "For me the urban farm is a solution to our surpassing peak oil, our issues with obesity and health, sustainable food supplies, our debates about land use. The South Central Farm is a model for sustainability; reversing the effects of greenhouse gases by taking oil out of the food cultivation and distribution equation; providing people a way to sustain themselves in this time of rising food prices, rising oil prices, and increasingly volatile weather patterns; by providing an alternative to the cheap calories that now pass as food.

The land went on sale again for $16.3 million in 2010. My hope is that this film helps raise awareness for the farmer's so that they can buy the land back, thus ensuring fresh organic food for their families and rebuilding the largest urban farm in America." As of May 2011 the land remains an empty lot.

When the city of Los Angeles threatened to bulldoze the garden in 2003, local leader Tezozomoc rallied the 350 families to engage in one of America's most important battles for urban agricultural land use. Although the Garden was ultimately closed, Tezozomoc gave it new life through a now-thriving 85-acre, 100 percent organic cooperative farm in Buttonwillow, California (near Bakersfield), and the South Central Farmers Health and Education Fund (SCFHEF), a grassroots nonprofit providing a culturally-relevant variety of organic produce to Los Angeles CSAs, farmers markets and underserved neighborhoods.

Tezozomoc empowers regional Latino farming cooperatives with technical and ecological knowledge, market access, and financial viability to create hope for historically marginalized communities.

In 2013, he was awarded the NRDC’s (Natural Resource Defense Council) 2013 Growing Green Award winner in the Food Justice Leader category. Learn more at: www.southcentralfarmers.org

Read Tezozomoc's blog post: Renewing our Community’s Agricultural Life from Loss in South Central Los Angeles