Proyecto Jardín is refusing to vacate the garden it operates on land owned by White Memorial Medical Center, even though the landlord asked the nonprofit group to abandon the space by Sunday.
Members of the urban farming collective are sleeping in tents set up in the garden on Bridge Street and say they will stay there until they receive a court-ordered eviction.
“[Boyle Heights] residents continue to occupy and operate the garden legally and cannot be evicted without a court order,” the group said in a press release on Monday.
A spokesperson for White Memorial said she could not comment on the content of the release, since she had not seen the document, but denied that the hospital had attempted an eviction of the garden early Monday, as alleged by Proyecto Jardín.
Proyecto Jardín and White Memorial could not reach an agreement to extend a lease that expired December 31. White Memorial says it is concerned about Proyecto Jardín’s productivity and wants to turn over management of the garden to two other nonprofit groups. Proyecto Jardín started a petition on change.org asking White Memorial to rescind the order to vacate the garden, a six-month moratorium on all evictions and an opportunity to negotiate a new agreement.
On Saturday –a day before it was supposed to vacate the garden– Proyecto Jardín held a community forum to seek support from area residents and come up with a strategy to remain on the garden. According to Monday’s release, a coalition was formed with 10 other organizations to urge White Memorial “to keep the garden open and commit to negotiating a resolution that works for all parties.”
According to the release, the Coalition to Support Proyecto Jardin consists of East Los Angeles Community Corporation (ELACC), the LA Food Policy Council, Alliance for California Traditional Arts, Self-Help Graphics, CALO YouthBuild, Mujeres de Maiz, the ACLU Pasadena Foothill Chapter, Vincent Price Museum, Occidental College Urban & Environmental Policy Institute, and the Eviction Defense Network.
Photo above: One of the tents used by volunteers sleeping on the grounds of Proyecto Jardín. All photos by Antonio Mejías-Rentas.