So now Horowitz has his land back, and the garden’s got to go. The 350 families who tend the garden, along with the usual roster of celebrity protesters (Julia Butterfly Hill, Daryl Hannah, Willie Nelson, Danny Glover, Joan Baez, and our very own Commander in Chief) have been unable to raise the $16 million asking price to hold on to the land. The garden, which is widely considered to be the largest community garden in the United States, will probably be bulldozed before the tomatoes ripen.
Let’s see, 350 families, $16 million–that’s 45 grand apiece. It’s just over a million bucks per acre, or $285K for a quarter-acre lot with no house on it. By Southern California real estate standards, that’s a bargain.
Then again, you could buy a lot of fresh produce at the farmers market with 45 grand per family, and have money left over for a car or–I don’t know–rent? health insurance? In spite of that fact, what are people fighting for? Their little patch of earth. Hell, yes.
These aren’t tiny weekend projects with a few tomatoes and California poppies. The 330 spaces here are large… crammed with a tropical density of native Mesoamerican plants – full-grown guava trees, avocados, tamarinds, and palms draped in vines bearing huge pumpkins and chayotes, leaf vegetables, corn, seeds like chipilin grown for spice, and rank upon rank of cactus cut for nopales. The families who work these plots are all chosen to receive one because they are impoverished by USDA standards, and use them to augment their household food supply. These are survival gardens.
You go, South Central 40. Fight for your right to dig. The families are organizing here and they promise that if they can’t buy the land, your tax-deductible donation will be returned.