In South Central Los Angeles, there is a 14 acre vacant lot at East 41st and South Alameda that used to be a farm. In 1994, local gardeners and farmers banded together with a local food bank to form a community garden and, eventually, South Central Farms. They turned an abandoned lot into an urban paradise; to many, it seemed nothing short of a miracle, and it set an amazing precedent for what could be done in Sunny L.A. By some interpretations of adverse possession laws, the farmers may very well have had rights to the land. However, the insurance company that owned that particular parcel bought it back from the city for 5 million dollars in a closed door session. The negotiations have never been released, but what is known is the city got just over 5 million dollars for the property.
Is it legal to grow food in public space? I believe so; in fact, there are lime trees at Pershing Square. Wouldn't it make sense for the city to invest that money in local agriculture and urban gardens? That might not be feasable, as food may not be seen as desirable as, say, a new NFL stadium.
The date palms at City Hall sure are nice. I'm thinking some persimmons would be lovely.
Money, particularly fiat currency, is valuable by consensus; somebody (in this case, somebody with influence and an identity masked even to congress) proposes that our money is valuable, and we all agree. Our money system is corrupt, and we as a society have yet to agree on anything to be quite as valuable as the money we make. Money is so valuable that sometimes, we will be willing to do just about anything to get it, short of cheat, steal or rob (that goes for most of us).
Food, unlike money, has value that is self-evident. A good apple is always worth a good apple.
Unlike money, food does not appreciate in value, with the exception of some cultured products like cheese or 100 year old duck eggs (Chinatown, holla back). Most of the time, food goes bad. Also unlike money, parents with hungry children may understandably be willing to lie, cheat, steal, or rob for food. This is true in all parts of the world.
As many people have noticed, the food prices are going up, and yet industry profits are at an all-time high. We are told on the news that there is a worldwide food shortage. We are told a lot of things on the news that aren't true, but this might have some truth to it, seeing as unsustainable methods have stripped the ground of topsoil and farmers of their land. We see the "modernizing" of crops through grotesque genetic modification methods that involve blasting E. Coli bacteria with random chunks of DNA, injecting it into the nuclei of food seeds, and hoping something useful happens. Oftentimes what happens is people who eat these crops have serious health problems, and the meanwhile farmers are stuck buying their seed from the criminal military contracting firm. I am talking about Monsanto, previously known for such wonderful concoctions as Agent Orange. Currently, they are known for unleashing freak biological contaminations into the ecosystem and claiming all contaminated organisms as intellectual property while billing themselves as the Farmer's Best Friend.
When your food supply is controled by people who don't have your best interests in mind and have shown a willingness to take your money and poison you, what is the proper course of action?
I think growing food is just about the most polite thing I can think of. Terribly polite. Fortunately, we live in a very sunny part of the country. We have an opportunity to grow an awful lot of just that. The LAPD have noted that they don't like our garden boxes. I wonder how they would feel about some fruit trees. They are most certainly part of our Downtown L.A. community, and we all would benefit.
Since the 1970's, there has been a resurging interest in sustainable and regenerative agriculture, as well as preserving heirloom species of food crops. As it is getting harder for farmers to keep their land, these regenerative techniques may need to be applied closer to home. Post your favorite permaculture links below!