Green Our Communities
Favianna Rodriguez, Bryant Terry
Digital offset print, 2009
As urban farms continue to multiply across the country, underserved communities facing food insecurity and social inequalities are finally being able to enjoy access to organic produce. But urban land is valuable, and potential profits often compete with human needs.
South Central Farm, also known as the South Central Community Garden in South Central Los Angeles, was one of the largest urban farms in the U.S. Formed in 1994, it helped feed 350 families. But in 2006, the farm was lost to private interests.
Last month, the Compton Community Garden (CCG), was also threatened. Founded in 2013 by Dr. Sheridan Ross, the CCG has been providing Compton and North Long Beach residents with free organic greens, fruits, flowers, and herbs grown through sustainable and regenerative farming methods that prioritize working with the land’s natural cycles and ecology.
Located in a “food desert” with mainly fast food restaurants and discount stores within walking distance, CCG is a welcome alternative. Yet CCG’s vision goes beyond gardening: their aim is to educate and connect people with nature through the communal effort of gardening and harvesting, and in turn, feed the Earth through sustainable farming and decreasing waste. Organizers have hosted open garden days for planting crops, meditation events, gardening workshops and live music showcases.
However, on the morning of April 1st, CCG staff members arrived to find a large ‘For Sale’ sign posted on the property. They learned that the private landowner who owned the lot CCG occupied put it up for sale without consultation or warning. Even worse, interested developers had already made competing bids. After days of negotiating and conversation with developers and the landowner, CCG staff were tasked with providing a staggering counteroffer of at least $500,000 within two days or face eviction.
Organizers, staff, supporters, volunteers and friends issued rallying cries across social media to raise funds and spread awareness of their GoFundMe page with the urgent news. The landowner extended the counteroffer deadline by three days, so organizers set up fundraiser events to help raise the total amount. On May 10, CCG announced via Instagram that a few anonymous donors submitted considerable donations that, along with the money made through their GoFundMe, made CCG the highest competing bidder for the property. A week later, CCG posted a victorious update declaring they saved the property and will be able to own the land and service their community for good.
CSPG’s Poster of the Week celebrates CCG’s win by highlighting a poster made by artist Favianna Rodriguez and Bryant Terry, the James Beard Award-winning chef and author of Vegan Soul Kitchen. The poster, titled “Green Our Communities,” is one of three made by Rodriguez and Terry and channels the same vision as CCG and other urban farms. Healthy, organic food is a right, not a privilege–and with collective synergy, urban farmers can plant the seeds for a sustainable future that will nourish and empower generations to come.