As "green" as he likes to claim he is, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa missed his chance to lead the growing urban farming movement.
That honor belongs to First Lady Michelle Obama who has gathered groups of students at the White House lawn to plant and care for a vegetable garden -- a symbolic step that harkens back to Eleanor Roosevelt planting a Victory Garden on the White House lawn during World War II.
Former California First Lady Maria Shriver followed Mrs. Obama's lead and joined the urban farming fever by planting a vegetable garden in Capitol Park in Sacramento.
I have to admit I'm not exactly the most environmentally-sensitive guy in the world but I'm learning.
For months, my wife has been talking about digging up the front lawn and planting vegetables. It has something to do with not wasting water on something as pointless as grass, saving money on food and having fresh, healthy organic produce on the dinner table.
I didn't take it seriously but then I met Tezozomoc, head of the South Central Farmers movement who raised my consciousness.
The 14-acre community farm was bulldozed in 2006 by developer Ralph Horowitz to build a warehouse for clothing maker Forever21, whose executives have donated $1.3 million to the mayor's various campaigns and fund-raising efforts.
Because of that connection, backers of the South Central Farm hold the mayor responsible for fumbling efforts to buy the land from Horowitz and preserve what was widely seen as a positive asset to the area, bringing people together in a healthy activity and serving as a center for community life.
The warehouse still isn't built and the fight goes on and Tezozomoc has started a farmers' cooperative and is growing organic produce for sale.
Then my friend Bob Singer got his own far-out ideas into my head about how we need to return to our agrarian roots to save the planet, how we need to become vegans, how we need to put people to work as owner-farmers in the absence of industry, and rebuild community life.
He introduced me to Duane Thorin and Evelyn Hansen and others who are at the forefront of the trend.
And he worked with Villaraigosa back in December with what seemed like a cockamamie plan to make him the volunteer head of a Commission on Urban Farming. When he didn't hear back, he sent his letter to the mayor to Rob Kall at Opednews which published it.
"Is the city or the nation prepared for the social dislocation, economic despair and breakdown in law and order that could occur as the crisis worsens? Are there enough police, National Guard or military to keep order when millions of out of work, out of home and out of food?
"You as Mayor can take steps to mitigate the chaos and possible anarchy now before it is too late. One activity that can have the most far-reaching effects in these times of crisis is Victory Farms as put forth by Eleanor Roosevelt during the Great Depression."
Well, he still hasn't heard back from Villaraigosa and probably never will--what with the mayor wanting to put up warehouses and factories and skyscrapers on every bit of open space in the city, and wanting the DWP to install solar units on what little is left unpaved under a program that's supposed to let poor people buy shares.
Now that the First Ladies of the nation and state are aboard the urban farming movement perhaps the mayor's desire to hang out with them and their friends will get the best of him and he'll respond to Bob Singer or take the initiative himself.
His support would be nice but unnecessary. Urban farming is taking root because it makes sense. It conserves dwindling water supplies, makes little plots of land productive, reduces food bills, provides healthy produce free of salmonella and chemicals and gets people off the couch and in motion.
Personally, I'm ready to join the movement myself. Anybody got a back hoe to dig up my lawn?
Ron Kaye is the former editor of the Los Angeles Daily News where he spent 23 years helping to make the newspaper the voice of the San Fernando Valley and fighting for a city government that serves the people and not special interests. Twice in recent years, Los Angeles Magazine listed Kaye among the city's most influential people, specifically in the area of politics. Kaye has been variously described in the media as the "accidental anarchist," "the Patrick Henry of the San Fernando Valley" and a "passionate populist." He is now committed to carrying on his crusade for a greater Los Angeles as an ordinary citizen.
Republished with permission from Ron Kaye L.A.