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Garden, The (DVD Review)

11 Aug, 2009 By: Eui-jo Marquez

Street 8/18/09
Box Office $0.03 million
$29.99 DVD
Not rated.

Featuring Daryl Hannah, Joan Baez, Danny Glover, Willie Nelson.

The Garden is an Oscar-nominated documentary feature by filmmaker Scott Hamilton Kennedy (director of OT: Our Town) about a 14-acre community garden in Los Angeles.

After the L.A. riots in 1992, to pacify the low-income citizens in the area, the city gave them a large block to cultivate. Garden coordinators distributed plots to people. Corn, green beans, papaya, cilantro, bananas, zucchini, radishes and other fruits, veggies and flowers all flourished organically at 41st Street and Alameda in Los Angeles. Aerial views of the lush garden amid blocks of factories show a green oasis in a sea of gray industrialization, with the downtown skyline in the distance. It’s no wonder the citizens cherished this land.

Then, in January 2004, a notice to vacate was posted on the chain link fence surrounding the garden. The farmers had two months until they would be evicted by the city.

The Garden
tells the complicated story of the battle fought by the farmers to keep their land, which was the largest community garden in the United States. They uncover secret after secret, which show the city and developer Ralph Horowitz in a devious light.

Through interviews with the farmers, politicians and community members, images and video of the farmers living and working in the garden over the years, footage of the farmers as they fight for their land and scores of celebrity appearances, The Garden tells this timeless story of good versus evil, generosity versus greed. Over a soundtrack of Latino music as lush and colorful as the flowers in the garden, this story of persistence in the face of hopelessness will at the same time enrage and inspire you.

One politician in the documentary calls the garden “something special, something unique.” The documentary is this way too. Watching ordinary people fighting for what they think is right will make you want to do something too.

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