South Central LA garden gets new home in Buttonwillow

South Central LA garden gets new home in Buttonwillow
BUTTONWILLOW, Calif. -- The town of Buttonwillow may be known for its raceway, but, for one group, it's known as a land of hope.

In 1994, the South Central Farm was started as a positive answer to the Los Angeles riots. The urban farm and community garden provided fresh produce for families living in an industrial area of South Central Los Angeles.

But in 2006, the 14-acre garden was taken from the community and sold to a wealthy developer. The event drew a lot of media attention and public support.

According to journalist and farmer liaison Mira Tweti, a Central Valley resident saw the events with the garden unfold on television, thought it was a tragedy and donated 85 acres of farmland in Buttonwillow.

A generous donation, but the land has sat unused for the last three years. Longtime farm supporter Tezozomoc explained they couldn't farm the land because it didn't have a water facility.

In 2009, a documentary called "The Garden" told the story of the South Central farm. It won critical acclaim and caught the attention of Tweti.

"I said I would help them get a well," Tweti recalled. "I'm from New York City, I know nothing about farming, I don't know if I ever saw a well before."

But she got to work, solicited companies, and got a lot of donations. But some crucial last-minute help came from Wesco, a company based in Pittsburgh.

"After four years of farmers having the land, eight months of my working on it, it literally came down to 12 hours for everything to come together," she explained.

Wesco representative Michael Ludwig said, "We didn't have a whole lot of time, and worked with our business partners to provide two high horse power pumps and pump panel and other equipment to make this happen."

And it did happen.

On Saturday, Congresswoman Maxine Waters threw the switch and the water finally flowed at the Buttonwillow farmland.

And the South Central farmers have big plans for the land.

"We'll be growing vegetables, and we'll probably have an orchard in the middle and more vegetables on the other side," said Tezozomoc. "We can't wait to get started farming here and we're looking forward to."

Even though the land and it's produce was meant for the south central farmers to use, Tezozomoc said they are going to sell the produce to impoverished families in the Los Angeles and Kern County areas at rates they can afford.