Each morning, Janet McDurly, a 60-year-old resident in South Seattle, Washington, walks half a mile to catch her bus to work. On her means, she routinely passes Jimi Hendrix Park, a 2.3-acre group park positioned in Seattle’s Central District.
McDurly and different volunteers on this primarily African American group have spent many weekends planting seeds and tending crops within the park’s group backyard, established in 2020 by Black Star Farmers, an area activist group combating for land and meals sovereignty.
However in July 2021, McDurly stumbled upon an surprising scene throughout her routine stroll: the backyard had been bulldozed. Along with its police and parks departments, the Metropolis of Seattle had violently leveled the colourful and inclusive backyard that had nourished food- and nutrition-insecure residents.
For McDurly, the loss was a part of the bigger sample of gentrification and displacement of Black residents she has witnessed lately. She additionally felt pissed off by the town’s sabotage of residents’ efforts at meals sovereignty.
“Each time our group tries to foster alternatives to feed ourselves and communities like ours throughout the town, the town take [opportunities] away from us,” McDurly stated.
Funded by a various vary of metropolis funds and donations from native organizations, Jimi Hendrix Park was inbuilt December 2011 to be an inclusive inexperienced gathering place, in addition to a “major focus for multicultural occasions, gatherings, and actions for the group.”
“Racist and inequitable programs have prevented African People from truthful participation in our nation’s financial system and from accessing wholesome, reasonably priced meals.”
Earlier than the farm’s destruction, it was wholesome and thriving, yielding lettuce, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, and different meals. Black Star founder Marcus Henderson famous that the aim of the farm (like the opposite Black Star-run farms throughout Seattle) was to assist create self-sufficient communities and handle the meals insecurity skilled by communities of colour within the Seattle space.
Henderson had hoped that the farm would have the ability to present constant yields of meals to donate to native organizations for additional dissemination to members of the group. “We actually must create extra alternatives for people to have the ability to develop meals on the land,” Henderson stated in a July 2021 Seattle Emerald article.
As egregious and disheartening because the upending of Jimi Hendrix Park could seem, the removing and/or threatening of Black-run or owned group gardens by native metropolis companies is sadly not new.
Up till 2013, many Black residents in Detroit have been not capable of domesticate meals for his or her communities on account of city agriculture ordinances and zoning legal guidelines that prevented residents from working city farms on public city-owned land.
In Baltimore, city agriculture is permitted on city-leased land. However that land can also be in demand. Cherry Hill City Neighborhood Backyard, a 1.5-acre city farm managed by the Black Yield Institute (BYI) on city-leased land, acquired an eviction discover in spring 2021. Baltimore Metropolis, which had proposed constructing reasonably priced housing models on the land that homes the group backyard, notified BYI of its imminent removing by the top of 2021.
Many group members and researchers imagine, nonetheless, that reasonably priced housing models and group gardens can co-exist as they do in different websites all through the U.S. They see the current occasions as yet one more instance of African American communities bearing the burden of inequitable city coverage that has traditionally and disproportionately robbed Black individuals of alternatives to thrive.