Another for the Bushel
In his article [“Bushel of Complaints,” March 17–23], Daniel Hernandez admits to interviewing only 20 of the South Central farmers. Nowhere in the article did I see opinions expressed by the vast majority of the farmers, the well over 330 families who support their elected leaders, Tezozomoc and Rufina Juarez.
The companion article by David Zahniser [“Not So Fast, Antonio,” March 17–23] refers to the campaign to save the South Central Farm as having become a cause célèbre. It is that, and deservedly so. The campaign to save the largest urban farm in the United States is embraced by citizens and organizations across the United States, Canada and Europe.
Through years of creative work, members of the South Central Farmers Feeding Families have transformed a barren industrial wasteland into an oasis. Those who have visited the farm site see at once what a special place it is. As an anthropologist and ethnobiologist, I have carefully studied the biological diversity of the 14-acre site. My studies document a world-class level of biological diversity that includes rare species of heirloom crops native to North America. The South Central Farm is a biological treasure that rivals the botanical collections of any herbarium or university collection in Southern California.
The farm has become a tremendous asset to South Los Angeles and promises to enrich the lives of people living there for generations to come. In addition to providing wholesome, nutritious food to people of meager means, it is a place of refuge in the asphalt jungle and fosters a sense of community among those who work the land and purchase food at the Farmers Market. All of us who want to see the farm endure know that it is the type of open, green and healthy space that cities like Los Angeles need much, much more of. The farm is a significant natural asset in an area of L.A. that is seriously deprived of open space, parklands or greenbelts.
Despite what the article says, the farmers have agreed that 2.6 acres of the 14-acre site should go to the city’s parks and recreation department for non-agricultural use such as soccer fields.
Devon G. Peña, Ph.D.
Mr. Hernandez forgets that Tezo and Rufina Juarez are the only ones in this city of 3 million who have kept the gates open for the last three years through their tireless organizing. They sought my help from the Latino Urban Forum three years ago, and I thought we would be able to solicit help from well-funded Westside/environmental advocacy groups, but we had no luck.
Needless to say that protecting the farm has been a learning experience for everyone involved. ?One day you are a citizen, and ?the next day you are saving the largest urban farm in the U.S. Tezo and Rufina have managed to keep the farm gates open for the past three years by “rasquache” or grassroots organizing of a group of residents who are not traditionally organized.
Life in South-Central is desperate, therefore desperate times call for desperate measures.
Latino Urban Forum
Air Pollution Solution
Your article [“Great Urban Bike Rides,” March 17–23] could use one more: riding a bike to school or work and for neighborhood errands. The five recreational bike rides are great, but bicycles can also be used to reduce traffic congestion. Mine has a sign on the box in back that reads “One Less Car.”
It’s in Turn Around
After reading Ella Taylor’s film review [“Thank You for Smoking,” March 17–23], I started thinking that maybe we can look forward to a sequel, a movie about spin trumping reality in other aspects of our lives. My proposed title: “Thank You for Going to War.”
Child Welfare Service
Sam Slovick’s article [“Coming of Age in the Mouth of Madness,” March 10–16] was very well-written and informative. After reading the article, I just sat on my bed and thought, “Dang, I have it real good.” Thanks for opening up my eyes to this ongoing situation, and hopefully it will inspire others to at least think about what is really going on.