A screenshot from a video filmed showing the vandalism at Farm Lot 59.
The Thanksgiving Weekend, normally filled with leftovers, holiday shopping and an all-around ramping up of the holiday season, was instead filled with shock for workers who showed up to Farm Lot 59 Sunday morning to find it had been vandalized.
The half-acre farm located on California Avenue at the Willow Springs Gulch was founded in 2010 by Long Beach resident Sasha Kanno with an aim to pass on farming skills to the next generation of citizen farmers, while also helping to build an urban-rural relationship with the residents of the city. The group and its produce is utilized by multiple restaurants throughout the city that tout a farm-to-fork experience.
Kanno said that while it wasn’t the first time the farm has been vandalized, it was the worst in terms of property damage that the farm has sustained. The bulk of the damage was centered in the greenhouse where some irrigation was pulled up and multiple micro greens were destroyed. Kanno estimated the damage to be a little over $2,000, with many of the plants that were destroyed being destined for clients, which will spell lost profits for the farm.
“Everything was just turned over and flipped around,” Kanno said. “Somebody was in an act of rage. Tables were turned over and all the pots and everything were just knocked over, irrigation was pulled out.”
After my crew left yesterday and before I came to work this morning our farm was vandalized. It's time for the @cityoflongbeach to take action and secure the Willow Springs Gulch so we can work in a safe environment. #urbanfarm #farmlot59 #underattackPosted by Farm Lot 59 on Sunday, November 27, 2016
Kanno took to social media Sunday morning to document the damage that had occurred overnight. The video posted to Facebook showed a scene that reflected the #underattack hashtag that Kanno placed on the video of buckets and crates of plants flipped upside down and several tables turned over.
She characterized the vandalism as an ongoing problem at the park. Just over two months ago the historic Southern Pacific Railroad Depot, which was painstakingly transported from the city’s westside to Willow Springs Park where it was slated to become a community center, was destroyed by a fire in the middle of the night. [Story link]
Kanno said said she believes both incidents to be connected to an ongoing issue with a growing homeless encampment at the park, which is completely undeveloped save for the farm. She filed a police report Sunday morning, but speculated that the vandalism at Farm Lot 59 could be retaliation in the wake of the city’s closing down of a sizable encampment at Willow Springs two weeks ago. Both incidents are still under investigation, and thus far no evidence of a connection to the homeless population in the park has been made public.
She added that the damage was made worse by the recent time-change, which decreases the amount of daylight hours for plants to be regrown.
“The days are really short now and we don’t have electricity so we don’t have garden lights or heat lamps or anything like that so it is a slower recovery than you would have a week ago, two weeks ago, a month ago,” Kanno said.
The vandalism was cleaned up by Monday afternoon and Kanno noted that her original social media post had led not only to an outpouring of support via heartfelt messages, but also by community organizations showing up to help in the cleanup effort and to pledge their support going forward.
Kanno is hopeful that the city’s department of parks, recreation and marine can find a way to allocate funds to develop the park—especially with recent influxes of potential revenue through voter-passed tax measures—but would settle for safety measures to ensure that herself, her all-female staff and any other resident can enjoy the park worry-free.
In the meantime, Farm Lot 59 will be the focus of a fundraiser Tuesday evening at Long Beach Creamery, where 50 percent of the sales will go toward the farm. Upon hearing of the vandalism over the weekend, the creamery announced it would also be selling special butter cakes Tuesday night, a hundred percent of the proceeds of which will go to support the farm.
“The farm fundraising is even more important after the farm was vandalized yesterday,” the Long Beach Creamery said in a post to its Facebook account Sunday night. “Please come join us in supporting our local urban agriculture!”