Imagine being given this plot of land. A relative hands it off to you because you deserve it. You’ve been through some hardships. You need a place to stay. It’s in a nice neighborhood; you need the community. Plus, that distant uncle has enough plots of land as it is.
The land thrives. It has a truly noble purpose. You turn it into a dance hall or a volunteer fire department. The friends you make from it are invaluable. It’s now where you work, where you spend all of your time, and where you plan to raise a family.
Turns out your uncle hates a few people you’ve invited to your plot of land, though. Right as some folks have gotten comfortable—maybe stopped looking for work elsewhere—your relative pulls the rug out from all of them.
Then he plays around with the money you don’t have in your effort to keep it.
That’s basically what’s going on to the South Central Farm in Los Angeles, says Daryl Hannah. That’s why she needs your help.
Ralph Horowitz sold some land to the city in 1986. Shortly after the Rodney King riots, it was appropriated for urban farming. It flourished, but Horowitz disapproved of some of the alleged illegal immigrants that lived there.
Hannah, the star of the Kill Bill, Blade Runner and Wall Street, was gripped when she heard the story. She desperately wanted to help. She attached her name to “Save The Farm,” Michael Kuehnert’s film about the farm’s demise and subsequent legal wrangling.
We talked to her about how she got involved in the cause, what drew her to the film, and asked what you can do to help.
Hulu: When did you first hear about this? And when did you know you wanted to help?
Daryl Hannah: There are so many aspects in that question. But, specifically, I originally heard about this from my friend Julia Butterfly Hill. She’s one of those people who tries to find True North no matter what the situation. She made a call for help. It’s the first time she ever reached out to me for help, so I knew how important this was to her. I responded immediately, knowing whatever she was asking for was going to be worthy. The best way, we thought, to make some sort of impact or contribution was to participate by doing a video blog on it for my website, to try to get the word out on it.
How did you get involved in freeing up the South Central Farm in particular?
Basically how I got involved specifically with the South Central Farm: What happened there, as upsetting as it was, was what motivated the revival of urban gardening. They’ve been having a renaissance in the urban gardening arena. Areas have been creating communities. South Central Farm was a catalyst in that realization and their awareness of how important it is to all of our futures and how important it is in cities to make food available.
Are you a little disappointed by government response to this? Watching this film, there’s obviously an injustice going on with Ralph Horowitz’s handling of the land, but it seems like this should be a municipal land issue, at this point, as well.
That’s our biggest frustration. One of the things is that government hasn’t been more proactive. (Los Angeles) Mayor Villaraigosa, himself, brought his kids down to the farm. He was extolling its virtues. Then Ralph Horowitz, in particular, really got in the way. It was put back up for sale. Finally, he—even though he said he wouldn’t sell it to farmers—said he’d relent if we raised the money. Once we actually had the raised the money back was when the eviction was supposed to happen. It would be a challenge, but it’s definitely not impossible.
How much more effective it for the cause for this film to see distribution on the Internet?
One of the great benefits specifically is that it’s accessible globally. There’s this need for urban farming to revive and to be able to be self-sufficient in times of crises. You can see with these catastrophic weather events, there’s nothing better than being able to have food accessible immediately. It’s a really important thing to be able to do.
In LA for example, if there was some sort of disaster that would cut of our ability to receive our food. There’s only enough food for two days. That’s not enough. That’s terrible. To have a city where some people—they’re dependable on food banks, and food stamps—to have them grow fresh food and medicinal herbs, it’s good on every level. To get out on the sunshine and the dirt, it’s good for your children and grandchildren for places to play, to create a habitat for birds.
The digital format provides the best avenue for getting that information out. It’s global, and it has a global reach.
What got you involved with this film specifically?
(Director) Michael Kuehnert was always there. He was always around the farm. He was there the whole time. He was one of our family members. And obviously my intention was always just to do everything in my power to help secure that farm for the community again so they can grow their food there.
What about this farm drew you to devote this much time and energy into this one specific cause?
LA is the place that I’ve spent many years of my life working. I had no idea that this farm even existed when Julia told me to come down there. It was the perfect example of the interconnectedness of environmental stewardship. It feeds one of the lowest level communities of Los Angeles. It was given to communities of the (LA) Riots as some sort of peace offering. It also provided a safe habitat for the community. It’s a place where the grandparents can teach their children about growing vegetables and herbs, and it provided a habitat and a wildlife area for animals.
If you could have the audience take one thing to take away from “Save the Farm,” what would it be?
If someone or some group has the means to go and get the resources together to buy the farm back for the farmers, I want them to hear the message. If not, the goal is to at least influence (Los Angeles City Councilwoman) Jan Perry and Mayor Villaraigosa to do all they can to make that happen. If people are inspired to start their own urban farms.