I got to the farm around midnight, when things were closing down. The second or third person I talked to was Mike Feinstein, who told the organizers I was an okay guy. They let me unroll my sleeping bag in a corner by a fence with a grape vine growing on it. I woke up not long after sunrise, when the daylight made it impossible to sleep.


It wasn't too much later that I found the food tent. It was run by this woman, a local who had adopted as her personal mission to keep us all fed and in the struggle. For breakfast we had pancakes and fruit, and mine were quite good.


Lots of people there were musicians or media of one kind or another. Somebody told me that Julia Butterfly Hill was on a water only diet until we had raised enough money to buy the farm from the developer who currently owns it.


There were three people tree sitting until the mission succeeded. John Quigley (shown) was famous for the time he sat in an oak tree for seven months to keep it from being killed by a street widening project. Daryl Hannah is most known for her movie roles. Julia Butterfly Hill is most known for the two years she spent in Luna trying to protect old growth redwoods in Northern California. This was the first I'd heard of an all star cast getting together to save a farm.

About 8 AM there was a meeting. It began with Julia leading us in a very spiritual stretching exercise. Then the woman in the green T shirt gave us a history of the farm. She explained that the City of LA had taken over the plot through eminent domain in the early 1990s. As part of the healing after the riots sparked by the Rodney King incident LA had given the plot to the community for a community garden that was organized by the food bank about half a block away. This had worked great until sometime in the Hahn administration, when some back room deal had been made to sell it back to the guy it had been taken from. At that point the food bank had bowed out, but the community had kept it going out of sheer need for the food. Now it looks like the Los Angeles County Sheriff would be coming along soon to evict everyone.

The guy in the brown sweatshirt was introduced as "our doctor". He explained that every breath is a microcosm of the life cycle. Every inhale is a creation, and every exhale is another end of life.

The woman in the green army coat explained that there would be a benefit on the farm in the evening for the other campaign, which is the latest chapter in the struggle of the indigenous of Chiapas for their political rights. Apparently the Mexican Government has been stonewalling them for years now, and it is up to efforts like this one to spread the word that something needs to be done. Her words connected our struggle to keep the farm growing food with the struggle for indigenous rights south of the border.

After the meeting I got everybody else to pose for a group shot.


Somebody explained that every evening they have a candle light procession around the farm, and at the end of it everybody puts their candle around the base of this walnut tree. It was also the tree where Julia Butterfly Hill, John Quigley, and Daryl Hannah were vigiling to save the farm. Each of those candles is evidence that somebody else cares.


All day long I saw people being interviewed by various media. I overheard so many good reasons to keep the farm. One woman said that all of the farming here is done by hand, with no heavy machines like tractors. Another said that parents were showing their children what it means to be connected to the land by working the farm. I got asked what I thought once, and I said there is no way to get less fossil fuel energy in your food than to grow it yourself.


That big bowl of cactus and tomatoes was one of the main ingredients in our lunch.


About mid afternoon this band of super heroes showed up to lighten the atmosphere. They paraded around the  grounds looking  quite comical and then serenaded  Julia Butterfly Hill. The leader, the guy in the blue shirt with the B that went by the name "BossMan", explained that they had heard about the farm from the news and decided to come by and offer encouragement. After a couple of songs Julia suggested they go serenade Daryl Hannah. BossMan was clearly charged about getting the opportunity to serenade a movie star.


The farm covers a large city block. Most of it is small plots surrounded by chicken wire fences. Many of the plots have prickly pear cactus on them, but there is also a lot of corn and other vegetables.

The benefit concert for the other campaign started with a procession from the tree to the stage led by the local Native Americans.


After the procession reached the stage somebody briefly mentioned they were dancing for human rights, the political rights of the indigenous of Mexico, and the future of the farm. Then the dancers did a nice synchronized dance in front of the stage. They were followed by various speakers and bands.



The vigil procession around the farm was kicked off by a bit of speech making. The MC first introduced Cesar Chavez's grand-daughter who said she had no doubt that if Cesar Chavez was still around he would be here to help with saving the farm. She was followed by this guy who is connected to Martin Luther King Jr. by family relationship.

After the vigil I got a chance to talk to Darryl Hannah before she went back up the tree. I gave her the same little speech I give everybody else that gets near me. She liked it, but told me I should get a biodiesel car and run it on used fryer grease. Then she offered to pose for the camera with me.

For more information:


Ralph Nader's column about his visit to the place.