DV Magazine features filmmaker Michael Kuehnert of SAVE THE FARM


5 Reasons Urban Farming Is More Sustainable Than Industrialized Farming.

Finding sustainable alternatives to sourcing life’s basic necessities will require that we vote with our pocketbook and support sustainable solutions, even if they might not yet be the most convenient or the cheapest.  One way you can support changes in the food system is to get your food from urban farms.

  1. Urban Farming has very little need for oil.  Conventional food distribution systems use an enormous amount of oil.  Nearly everyone knows by now that the average piece of food in the supermarket travels 1,500 hundred miles to get there.  Consider all the oil inputs in the industrial agriculture process:  the farmer’s tractors and fertilizers, the transportation to a processing plant, the fuel to run the processing plant, the transportation to the supermarket, the energy to run the supermarket…Imagine how much less oil would be used to get your food from a local farm?  There are no tractors, no transportation, no processing plants, and no supermarkets.  And if you ride your bike then is zero energy is used.
  2. Organic food from Urban Farms is pesticide free.  The pesticide industry sprung up after WWII.  The chemical companies were left with large supplies of chemicals after the war and figured out they could use them on our food system to kill bugs.  Unfortunately we learned that spraying DDT on our food sources caused lots of other problems, like cancer in humans and fatalities in animals.    Studies have shown that there are measureable amounts of pesticides on food even after it’s washed.  The estimated environmental and health care costs of pesticide use at recommended levels in the United States run about $12 Billion every year.  Nitrates from conventional farming runoffs have created a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico the size of a small state.
  3. Urban farms are better for people and the environment.  Industrialized food systems cause deaths through pesticide poisonings and high numbers of farmer have committed suicides, while millions of jobs have been lost in rural areas.  A United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Report strongly suggests that a worldwide shift to organic agriculture can fight world hunger and at the same time tackle climate change.  According to FAO’s previous World Food Summit report, conventional agriculture, together with deforestation and rangeland burning, are responsible for 30 percent of the CO2 and 90 percent of nitrous oxide emissions worldwide.
  4. Urban farms help promote a plant-based diet.  The production of a calorie of meat protein takes up to 10 times as much oil as the production of a calorie of planet protein.   When I tell people I’m a vegetarian, their first question usually is, “how do you get your protein?”  The truth is we can get all the protein we need from a plant-based diet.  Many nutritionists recommend that at least two-thirds of dietary protein be derived from plant-based foods.  Many Americans eat twice as much protein as needed.  Too-high protein consumption is linked to kidney disease, cancers of the colon, breast, prostate and pancreas.  In addition, too much protein can make you fat since most of the typical protein sources in the American diet (70 percent of which comes from animal and dairy foods) are high in fat and calories.
  5. Urban farms are a stable source of Non-GMO food.  Genetically modified organisms have taken over our food supply in the US.  Up to 90% of the soybeans and 50% of the corn planted in the United States is genetically modified.  Organic and non-GMO farms are a great risk because of cross-pollination.  Some countries, like Austria and Japan, have banned the import of genetically modified organisms.  As our world gets smaller, the risk of complete GMO contamination of our food source grows by the day.  Which is why it is important to reestablish urban farms across the country that grow non-GMO food and protect our right to eat plants as nature intended.

Are you getting your food from the local urban farm or farmer’s market, or are you still shopping at the grocery store? 

LA City Council to vote 11/15 on South Central Farm land sale

The Los Angeles City Council is preparing to vote tomorrow 11/15 on a deal that would allow Libaw-Horowitz Investment Company to back out of an agreement made in 2003 which promised 2.6 of the original 14 acres to the public for use as greenspace.  This land was the South Central Farm, once the largest urban farm in the US. Today, the land is in negotiations to be sold to a garment manufacturer.
A protest is being organized at 8 AM Tuesday, November 15th, preceding the  10AM City Council meeting. See the South Central Farmers-Cooperative-Community Supported Agriculture facebook page for more details.

Video footage of the Budget and Finance committee’s proceedings were captured by Michael Kuehnert director of the documentary, Save the Farm.  video link: http://youtu.be/gW5V83WFzm4

“What should be happening is not moving away the park to make it easier to destroy the environment, it should be to expand the park back to the community farm that was there and not build a useless warehouse that we don’t need for more consumption.” -Former mayor of Santa Monica, Mike Feinstein

“This is national food day and on such an ironic day, they’re shutting down the last vestiges of what used to be the largest urban farm in the US.” – Tezozomac, South Central Farm leader

Tezozomac and other South Central Farmers are urging supporters to contact Los Angeles City Council members and tell them: (via http://southcentralfarmers.org)

1. Not to accept the proposed amendment by 9th district councilwoman Jan Perry to allow the city to accept in lieu fees instead of following through with the condition of sale of committing 2.6 acres of park space to the local community on the South Central Farm land;
2. Stop the PIMA factory and warehouse development on the South Central Farm land. Los Angeles does not need more low wage “sweatshop” garment factories or warehouses;
3. Commit to supporting the restoration of community green space and food production land at 41st and Alameda because the South Central community needs less air and noise pollution and more parks and gardens that will bring sustainable andgreen jobs instead.
Spread the word!

Council Members:
Call:  (213) 473-3231 or e-mail and Twitter:
District 1: Ed Reyes: councilmember.reyes@lacity.org
District 2: Paul Krekorian: councilmember.Krekorian@lacity.org   Twitter: @PaulKrekorian
District 3: Dennis Zine: councilmember.zine@lacity.org    Twitter: @dennispzine
District 4: Tom LaBonge: councilmember.Labonge@lacity.org    Twitter: @TomLaBonge
District 5: Paul Koretz: paul.koretz@lacity.org
District 6: Tony Cardenas: councilmember.cardenas@lacity.org    Twitter: @GoCardenas
District 7: Richard Alacorn: councilmember.alarcon@lacity.org    Twitter: @Richard_Alarcon
District 8: Bernard Parks: councilmember.parks@lacity.org    Twitter: @BernardCParks
District 9: Jan Perry: Jan.Perry@lacity.org    Twitter: @JanPerry
District 10: Herb Wesson Jr.: councilmember.wesson@lacity.org
District 11: Bill Rosendahl: councilman.rosendahl@lacity.org    Twitter: @Bill_Rosendahl
District 12: Mitchell Englander: councilmember.englander@lacity.org
District 13: Eric Garcetti: councilmember.garcetti@lacity.org    Twitter: @ericgarcetti
District 14: Jose Huizar: councilmember.huizar@lacity.org    Twitter: @josehuizar

Mayor: Antonio Villaraigosa, Twitter: @villaraigosa

In June of 2011, the documentary Save The Farm was released which tells the story of the 11th hour attempts of the South Central Farmers to save their urban farm which was maintained by over 350 families for more than 14 years.

The film is available for streaming on Hulu and more information can be found at

5 New phrases for our Planet – Reclaiming Environmentalism

You know something’s gone really wrong when you hear oil companies using the
words “local”, “sustainable”, and even “green” in their advertisement lexicon. Nothing an
oil company does or sets out to do, other than plug the very hole from which the black gold
oozes out, is green and sustainable. Far from it!

As a result of green washing, overuse, misuse and highly effective PR campaigns by very
rich people we’ve never heard of, the words and phrases we’ve been using to talk about
the precarious situation of the earth: climate change, save the earth, global warming,
sustainability, environmental, are no longer effective because they’ve been coopted by
advertisers and their meaning has been totally lost. But the problems are only getting
worse, so what to do? Seems most people, with the exception of a few saints and my
Grandmother, are motivated by self interest and locked into their belief systems. And the
conservatives seem to be less inclined to believe we have a problem. So with that in mind
we’ve come up with new words and phrases to replace five of the old words and phrases
that no longer seem to have any impact when you hear them.

Which are your favorites?
Please leave comments with your ideas.

1. Old phrase that is longer effective: Climate Change

New Phrases: Climate reversal, climate end, climate fail, climate collapse, climate out of
control, climate malfunction, climate chaos, weather pattern disruption, weather pattern
collapse, weather pattern malfunction, the sky is falling, crisis for civilization, crisis for life
on earth, global boiling, our deteriorating atmosphere, God save us…

2. Old phrase that is no longer effective: Save The Earth

New phrases: Save the humans, save ourselves, save the species, save the golf course,
save the cute little yellow birds that visit the garden in the spring, save the pretty Monarch
butterflies that my kids like to catch and torture, save the football season, save my
retirement account, save the beautiful autumn leaves, save America, lets keep the property
value up shall we?, shop locally and stop buying Chinese goods, famer’s market anyone?,
buy the electric car powered by the solar array on your roof, treat your neighbor as

3. Old phrase that is no longer effective: Global Warming

New phrases: Regional heat wave, local drought, county water shortage, the tornado
threat, state-wide crop failure, one hundred degree summers, constant wildfires, more
flash floods, unseasonal rain deluge, the well is dry and the baby’s cryin’, the vegetables
done wilted again, how come all the deer’s dead on the first day of huntin’?, food costs
twice as much as it used to be just a few years ago, why are all the evergreens in Colorado turn brown and dyin’?

4. Old word that is no longer effective: Sustainability

New words & phrases: Conservative measures, conservatism, conservation, maintaining
the status-quo, traditional values, back to the good old days, small family farms, taking
care of all of God’s creatures, waste not want not, self-sufficiency, food-independence, food
entrepreneurs, victory gardens, Grandma and Grandpa use to say…

5. Old word that is no longer effective: Environmentalism

New phrases: Conservative stewardship, taking care of divine creation, personal property
protection, self-preservation, habitat security, securing waters, securing rivers, securing
oceans, securing forests, preserving our species…

Save the Farm at The New World F.E.S.T. in Los Angeles

New World F.E.S.T. Santa MonicaSaturday 10/8  at 1:30PM Save The Farm will be screened in the Eco Theatre at The New World F.E.S.T. (Festival of Eco-Friendly Science and Technology) on the Beaches of Santa Monica.

Stop by booth 704 to purchase the DVD and get it signed by Director Michael Kuehnert.

The F.E.S.T. will be hosting 150 exhibits featuring some of the best and most innovative eco-friendly products and services you’ll see. There will also be 6 stages of live performance – music, guest speakers, panel discussions, live product demo’s, chef demos, an eco-theatre screening award-winning films and documentaries, a very cool Sustainable Art exhibition, art workshops, live street art, plus a Spiritual Oasis, yoga classes, healthy food and beverage, robots, futuristic eco-science, and lots for families and kids – including music, puppetry, dinosaur digs, and a petting zoo.

Get $2 off entry for this weekend’s The New World F.E.S.T. in LA






5 Ways Urban Farming Helps Foster Local Communities

1. Urban Farms foster a sense of place and togetherness.  The South Central Farm provided a place for the community to be together.  It provided a place for families and friends to meet and share a common mission, that of tending to the land and growing their crops.  Although the farmers were predominately from Latin America, everyone was welcome.  I remember Daryl Hannah commenting that she felt more community and togetherness at the South Central Farm than anywhere else in Los Angeles.  One farmer commented, “Here, everything works.  This is paradise.”

2.Urban farms provide a place where parents and grandparents can teach their kids about growing food.  Surprisingly (or not), most kids don’t know that food comes from plants, they think it comes from McDonalds or the grocery store.  Reeducating this generation of children about where food comes from, and teaching them the basics of how to grow it, may be a key to their future survival.   My favorite quote from Save The Farm is from Fred “Red Crow” Westerman, who states, “It is the end of living and the beginning of survival in a sense.  Anything having to do with man’s connection to earth should not be broken.”  Tending to the land, whether a garden or an urban farm, is a basic human right, a basic human need, because reconnecting with nature may be our best chance to provide for our families in the coming years.

3.Urban farms provide a way for people to localize their food source, which helps to increase food security.  The farther food has to travel from it’s place of origin to your dinner table, the more risk there is in it not getting there.  In our current environment, climate change, spikes in oil prices and acts of terrorism are just three of the many things that could disrupt our food source suddenly and without warning.  Having a local sustainable supply of food is now more important than ever.  Localizing the food source can also decrease the price of food for many people.  At the South Central Farm, families cut 1/3 to 2/3’s of their food bill by growing their food at an urban farm.

4.The urban farm becomes an incubator for the localization movement. Community members realize that in localizing their food source, other needs can also be localized.  Some of the adjunct activities might be bee keeping, composting and seed saving, all of which can be turned into local businesses in their own right.  Once the idea of local economy spreads, those with sewing skills might find themselves in demand to make clothing, those with bio-diesel skills might find themselves in demand, and so forth.

5.  Urban farms give us a reason to meet our neighbors.  Getting reacquainted with one’s neighbors is the first step toward stronger communities.   I grew up in suburban St. Louis, and interaction with the neighbors was a daily ritual.  But when I moved to New York City, I found that I didn’t even know my neighbors, even if I lived in the same place for years.  An urban farm gets us out of our living units and forces us to reconnect with the other humans around us, with out the help of electronic devices.  Strong communities are what is needed to weather the storm of social upheaval and civil unrest that seems to be growing by the day.

Daryl Hannah – Hulu – Save The Farm – full interview

Daryl Hannah gives her thoughts on the South Central Farm, Save The Farm, and urban farming:


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.

Daryl Hannah Interview

Daryl Hannah talks about Save The Farm, the South Central Farm, and local organic food


Save The Farm wins the Special Jury Prize for Social Awareness at the Nashville Film Festival.

Save The Farm wins the Special Jury Prize for Social Awareness at the Nashville Film Festival.

CLICK HERE to see the winners!

Special screening of Save The Farm at The South Central Farm

South Central Farm 5 Year Celebration

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