Thursday, July 06, 2006

South Central Farm Update

At the Asamblea Nacional in Mexico City, I interviewed Debbie X., from L.A., who collaborates with the farm. She passed on some fascinating updates.

We know that the farmers were officially evicted on June 13 by a group of police, private security guards, and bulldozers that arrived at the behest of land speculator Ralph Horowitz, who wants to turn the farm into a warehouse for Wal-Mart. The question we have to ask now is if, and how, the farmers are continuing the struggle.

According to Debbie, they’re not giving up. First, the vigils outside the farm continue. At the plantón, there are perpetually 20-50 people there around the perimeter of the fence, 24 hours a day. The farmers are still holding their Sunday farmers’ market (although noone I talked to seems to know exactly where the produce is coming from). What’s even more interesting is that they’ve begun to cultivate the strip of land just outside the fence, as a way of maintaining the farm and its culture even after being violently ejected from the original space.

This brings me to another issue. On hearing about the bulldozers, I’d imagined that the farm had been completely destroyed. But Debbie says no: “It’s definitely still there.” Parts have been razed, it seems, but other areas remain just as they were before the eviction. The point is that the farm is recoverable, that there hasn’t been permanent damage.

Farmers have also salvaged seeds from their plots. The crops under cultivation, mainly Mesoamerican plants less common in the U.S., represent not only a source of food, income, and culture, but also an ecological heritage and a form of resistance against biotech giants like Monsanto and Novartis. And, to further link the farm with the Other Campaign, seeds have apparently been sent to Atenco for productive safekeeping.

Finally, Debbie highlighted two more strategies of resistance. First, as we’ve already seen, there’s a court date on July 12, when lawyers for the farm will launch a lawsuit against Horowitz charging that the way he acquired the land from the city was illegal. But there’s another strategy, which is an application to have the city officially recognize the farm as a historical monument. Alone, this probably wouldn’t work, and Debbie admitted that the city thinks it’s a “joke.” But the idea is that in combination with these other avenues of resistance, the city may have to back down.

More information from the South Central Farmers here.

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