Daryl Hannah Takes to Trees to Save a Farm

June 1, 2006 — -- Amid the hustle and bustle of south central Los Angeles, actress Daryl Hannah perches in a walnut tree hoping to save one of south central's last pristine gardens from the threat of development.

Hannah's just one of the many celebrities, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Charlie Sheen and Ed Harris, helping more than 350 families fight for their 14-acre South Central Farm, a place that many of Los Angeles' lowest-income families depend on for food, green space and a safe haven.

Hannah, along with the other protesters, could be forced from the land at any time. On Wednesday a judge signed an eviction order calling for sheriff's deputies to remove them from the area.

The property is owned by Ralph Horowitz, who bought it in 2003. Horowtiz plans to pave the area and develop it; some speculate he may build a Wal-Mart.

He has offered to sell part of the land back to the farmers if they can come up with $16 million to pay for it. Horowitz gave them a deadline earlier this week to raise the money needed, but their efforts have fallen short, despite widespread support for their cause.

Hannah learned about the farm almost three weeks ago from Julia "Butterfly" Hill, the environmental activist known for her own stint in a tree. She spent more than two years perched in a redwood tree in Northern California to try to stop logging.

"I was absolutely stunned at how incredible this place really is and how amazing the people are," Hannah said. "My visit to the farm inspired me to do everything I can to save it for the families."

Alberto Tlatoa, one of the many people using the land, has grown food on South Central Farm for the past eight years. He knows firsthand the value that the farm holds, not just for his family but also the community.

"This project is fundamental," he said. "It's a safe haven for the community, a place for the elderly to come, and it's an important source of food for many low-income families."

It's unclear when the judge-ordered removal of the protestors and farmers will take place.

"We've included the community, farmers and even Daryl Hannah in exploring all of our options," said Steve Whitmore, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. "We are going to do this methodically and with the full consideration of the community."

In the meantime, the 350 farmers and protestors currently on the land still hold out hope that they may be able to save one of the last patches of green in their area.