2.20.2009

It Takes A Garden

And now, a much-needed guest blog from my LA-lady, Smitty. This is a bit of a new type of post for The City Vegetable, but you know what, I like it! Enjoy this Oscar-preview.


The Garden

With the Oscars coming up this weekend, I want to share with you a movie that you probably have not seen or heard of, but is one of the nominees for best documentary at the Oscars this year, called The Garden. I happened upon this movie at the Zocalo public lecture series a couple of weeks ago. I wasn't sure what I was getting into, or what the movie was really about -- I just knew it had something to do with urban gardens. Little did I realize, I had stumbled upon one of the most compelling stories I'd seen on film in a long time; probably because it addresses a bunch of topics that I'm really interested in -- namely, Los Angeles current events and politics, urban poverty, sustainability and urban development, mixed in with some old fashioned corruption and shady characters (no, Blagojevich does not make an appearance).

Anyway, I won't spoil the drama of the film for you in case you happen to see it (which I suggest you do), but as you'll see in the trailer, it's the story of the largest urban farm in the United States. Directly after the Rodney King riots in 1992, 14 acres of blighted urban property was turned over to the community and converted into farmland -- in the middle of South Central Los Angeles. These 14 acres ended up directly feeding over 300 families, and countless more throughout the community. Through a back room political deal in 2004, ownership of the land was turned over to a local developer, and the farmers are told they have to leave so that a warehouse and soccer field can be built on the land. It's a fascinating story that swings from jubilant highs to devastating lows, but the most compelling parts of the film show these farmers finding their voice and fighting to keep their land (it's great to see real-life community organizers in action, and chants of "Si se puede!" long before Mr. President made it cool).

I don't think this movie stands a chance against the other nominated films (particularly the celebrated Man On Wire, and Werner Herzog's newest Encounters at the End of the World). I actually don't think The Garden has even been shown in theaters, something that can't bode well for its chances of getting the Oscar nod. But in this case, I think it truly is an honor just to be nominated, particularly if it draws more attention to this important story.

1 comment:

Tim said...

Wow, that's looks awesome. Thanks for the heads up.