5.25.2006

Joan Baez Sittin' in a Tree

Expect some music later toady, but until then, I think this story is important:

Joan Baez in Tree to Help Save Garden

LOS ANGELES -- Folk singer Joan Baez and tree-sitter Julia "Butterfly" Hill have taken up residence in a tree to raise awareness about a 14-acre urban farm threatened with demolition.

Hill, who lived in a redwood in Northern California for more than two years to prevent loggers from cutting it down, said Tuesday that she, Baez and others will occupy the tree in shifts.

Two door-sized platforms have been placed in the tree for the sitters, and a support group has set up an encampment on the ground.

Hundreds of farmers could face evictions after The Trust for Public Land came up $10 million short in its bid to buy the site. The nonprofit group was not able to raise the $16.35 million required by the time the purchase option expired Monday.

The trust signed a contract in April with landowner Ralph Horowitz to buy 10 of the 14 acres in south Los Angeles where about 350 families, most of them working-class immigrants from Central America, tend small plots of fruits and vegetables.

Hill said she was protesting now because Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has pledged support for the farmers but has not come through yet.

Villaraigosa's spokesman did not immediately return a message left after business hours Tuesday.

Deputy Mayor Larry Frank has said the city was trying to help the farmers move to other sites, including an 8-acre plot which can accommodate 200 of them.

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