THE GARDEN – a film about the LA’s huge urban community farm

Sustainable Rossmoor and the Rossmoor Vegan Club will once again co-sponsor an outstanding movie. On Wednesday, August 2nd at 7 p.m. in Peacock Hall at Gateway, the two clubs will present “The Garden.”
The Garden has the pulse of verité with the narrative pull of fiction, telling the story of the country’s largest urban farm, backroom deals, land developers, green politics, money, poverty, power, and racial discord. The film explores and exposes the fault lines in American society and raises crucial and challenging questions about liberty, equality, and justice for the poorest and most vulnerable among us.
Director Scott Hamilton Kennedy captured the very souls of the gardeners, and the cinematography is so exquisite we can just about taste the fruit and smell the flowers. The 80 minute long film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary of 2008. It has won more than a dozen international awards. Captions.
All Rossmoor residents and their guests are invited. A raffle will be held before the film. Also, gardeners are encouraged to bring their home-grown produce to swap.
 
Rising from the ashes of the Rodney King riots in 1992, a garden was to appear on the 14 acres of empty lots that the City of Los Angeles turned over to the poor living in the area. But it started as an urban nightmare infested with vermin, tire fires, and toxic waste. Latinos and African-Americans in the neighborhood, with much hard work, created a Garden of Eden: a cornucopia of fruits, vegetables and beautiful flowers. Without using chemicals, the people sowed and harvested produce including corn and eggplant. The garden contained a wide variety of fruit-bearing trees including banana, papaya and avocado.
The garden was both a peaceful retreat and a symbol of hope. It was a revered place in the community — a light in the lives of poor people in inner city Los Angeles. The garden was a great communal success, and earned national attention as America’s largest urban farm.
Kati Lopez with arm-load of fresh corn leaves
But in 2004, the gardeners received a notice to vacate. Someone who claimed title to the land wanted to build warehouses on it and told the gardeners they were being evicted. The land they planted and tended so lovingly was slated to be bulldozed. Their cause became celebrated; Darryl Hanna, Danny Glover, Joan Baez, Martin Sheen, Willie Nelson, Dennis Kucinich and other celebrities stopped by to help. The film depicts their determined fight to prevent this.
DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT, Scott Hamilton Kennedy:
“There are so many reasons I was inspired to pick up my camera and follow this story. The first time I stepped onto the garden at 41st and Alameda, the city of Los Angeles seemed to vanish. Surrounded by varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs, the smell, the air was different immediately. And the people: warm, humble, generous in spirit and with the bounty of their plots. But there was another characteristic to the farmers that is essential to this story: while most had never done anything political before, they found a way to get organized, ask questions, do research, and not give up without a fair assessment of what happened here.
 
So with the threat of bulldozers only weeks away, my journey with The Garden began. At every turn, we were faced with more and more complex questions, like what is the best use of our limited lands, and how do we make sure that all parties are equally represented in that discussion? Do any of us rise to such challenges as ‘Justice for all,’ or are we more often derailed by things like bias, self-interest, greed, and ego? 
 
To me it is both simple and wickedly complex, timeless and timely: a fascinating story about the many layers of America. At a moment when economic insecurity abounds—as rising food prices, energy and environmental crisis confront us at seemingly every turn—The Garden tells an essential story and serves as a powerful symbol of the larger world around us.”
 

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