Can we save community gardens from developers? Est-qu'on peut sauvegarder nos jardins communautaires?

Unfortunately, our friends in LA have lost another round in the fight to save their fourteen acre farm. They will continue with an appeal, but as time goes on the farm becomes more and more likely to be lost to developers forever.

Just last week here in Montreal, City officials released a report that stated that the Baldwin Park community garden was contaminated with Lead, Zinc, Arsenic and Cadmium. While no specifics were given, the city is claiming that the garden may have to be closed down due to these heavy metals.

Interestingly these particular heavy metals are very common across the city, and it is likely that a test of any inner-city land would yeild the similar results. Thus any verggies grown in private garden, transported through, or sold in the city would lkely pick up a fair amount of these heavy metals.

Moreover, Arsenic and Cadmium are commonly found in the pesticides used in industrial agriculture, and often make it into people's diet. They are also common at 10-20 times the conentration in meat and fish.

Perhaps the city of Motnreal is also hoping to profit from the value of inner city lands that are now used for gardens. Selective enforcement of contaminent monitorring would give them the arguement to sell these lands to developers who woudl clean them up and put buildings where the gardens once were.

If this goes ahead we will need more than ever a well developed plan for rooftop gardening so that if this scenario plays out the city can require the developers to replace the gardens on the roofs of the new buildings. This could actually turn the situtation into a win-win as the lands would get cleaned-up and the gardens would remain.


South Central Farmers Lose Latest Court Fight
by Jessica Hoffmann

July 27 – A judge has ruled in favor of the private
developer who recently bulldozed the approximately
14-acre South Central Farm, which was thought to be
the largest urban community garden in the United

In a six-day trial, attorneys for the farmers had
argued that the City of Los Angeles's 2003 closed-door
sale of the farm site to developer Ralph Horowitz
constituted a waste of public resources. Wednesday,
Superior Court Judge Helen I. Bendix ruled that the
farmers' attorneys had not proved their case.

The decision was a blow to hundreds of farmers who
have engaged in a years-long land-rights struggle at
the site. More than 350 families, most of them
low-income immigrants from Mexico and Central America
who lack access to quality produce and greenspace,
have been cultivating survival gardens on the land for
more than 14 years.

The farmers had argued that the city's sale of the
land to Horowitz for less than fair-market value was

Reading her decision on Wednesday, Bendix stated that
her court "cannot say that fair-market value [for the
land] is so far above the amount paid [by Horowitz to
the city] to call it waste." Bendix noted that she did
not find credible one of the plaintiffs' key
witnesses, an appraiser who testified that the $5
million price tag was far below fair-market value for
the land in question.

Nevertheless, Bendix indicated that she recognized the
land owner Horowitz as a "credible witness" on the
subject of the land's value, citing his "familiarity"
with the issues at hand and his "demeanor" during

In a press conference outside the courthouse after the
judge's statement, Dan Stormer, an attorney for the
farmers, called the closed-door sale to Horowitz "a
travesty and a gift of public funds to Mr. Horowitz."
Stormer said there were "errors" in Bendix's decision.
He declined to elaborate on the "errors" until he has
reviewed the decision in detail, but he promised to
appeal the decision.

South Central Farm spokesperson Tezozomoc said in the
same press conference that he was "extremely
disappointed" with the decision, which he believes
gave "little consideration" to the hundreds of farmers
who have relied on food from the gardens. Asked how
the mostly low-income farmers are faring now that they
have lost the site at 41st Street and Alameda Avenue
as a food source, Tezozomoc replied, "A lot of the
farmers are having to tighten up their belts and rely
on their extended families."

In Spanish, farmer spokesperson Rufina Juárez told
press and supporters that, as a woman of color, she
sees the judge's decision in this case as part of a
history of decisions by the courts against "the

After decades of legal and political struggles, the
farmers were forcibly evicted from the site on June
13. In early July, all crops remaining there were
bulldozed. Ten people were arrested on July 5 for
trying to stop the bulldozer. One protester laid down
in front of the bulldozer, another chained himself to
it, and others attempted to clog the exhaust pipe with
an 18-inch zucchini.

Police also arrested some protesters for allegedly
hitting the bulldozer driver and throwing a crate at a
police officer. Jonathan Diamond of the Los Angeles
city attorney's office told TNS that no charges have
been filed to date. The cases are currently under
review by the city attorney's office.

Tezozomoc stated at Wednesday's press conference that
another lawsuit based on the destruction of farmers'
personal property during and after the forcible
eviction is "on the way."

Although Horowitz has insisted that he will not sell
the land to the current crop of farmers under any
circumstances, both Stormer and Tezozomoc said farmers
and their supporters are "absolutely" still
fundraising with hopes to buy back the land. Horowitz
has refused to sell to the farmers at any price,
saying he believes the farmers have vilified him in
the media.

Meanwhile, the farmers continue to organize for an
eventual rebirth of the South Central Farm and other
community gardens like it. They have obtained a
temporary permit to hold a community event featuring
Aztec dancing this Sunday on a city-owned internal
alleyway that runs through the former farm site.

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Posted to: Nos histoires / Our stories | Health and Quality of Life Improvement
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Posté par alexjhill le Lun, 07/08/2006 - 8:11am.