Katahdin Foundation

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The Garden


Academy Award Nominee, Best Documentary Feature
Winner, Best Documentary, Silverdocs
Winner, Best Documentary, Camden International Film Festival

The 14-acre community garden at 41st and Alameda Ave. in South Central Los Angeles was the largest of its kind in the U.S. It began as a form of healing after the devastating riots of 1992. Since that time, the South Central Farmers created a miracle in one of the country’s most blighted neighborhoods. Growing their own food. Feeding their families. Creating a community.

But in the pre-dawn hours of June 13, 2006 – after a three-year struggle between the urban farmers, the City of Los Angeles and a powerful developer – more than 200 sheriff’s deputies cut down the fences on the farm and evicted hundreds of people from the property. Activists fighting to save the farm were handcuffed and dragged away. Bulldozers moved in. In a few hours, the small, neatly aligned plots – each nurtured for years and reflective of their farmers’ geographic origins – were leveled to make way for a warehouse.

It was a tragic ending to a long and complicated story.

The Garden is an in-depth, unflinching look at the struggle to save the farm. From the tilled soil of the urban farm to the polished marble of City Hall, The Garden follows the bureaucratic twists and turns that awarded the 14-acre property first to the city, then to a food bank and the farmers, and ultimately, in a ‘backroom deal,’ to a developer.

Directed by Scott Hamilton Kennedy (OT: Our Town) and filmed over three years, The Garden illustrates how a forgotten stretch of land can blossom into the heart and soul of a community, and it gives voice to an underrepresented segment of the population. It explores the fault lines of American Society and raises questions about liberty, equality and justice. Did the farmers have any right to the land? Could the city have done more to save their garden? How do we determine a property’s true value? The Garden examines these questions and asks another one: If everyone told you nothing more could be done, would you give up?

The Garden photos by Donald Rogers