Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UCLA Electronic Theses and Dissertations bannerUCLA

Cultivating Food Autonomy: The South Central Farm and Decentralized Gardening


This thesis examines the ways Indigenous migrants in Los Angeles (LA) have created places of life through the formation of farms and decentralized gardens. The South Central Farm (SCF) was one of the earliest examples of food sovereignty in LA led by Indigenous migrants. I conduct a history of the life of the SCF from 1992 to 2006 and conceptualize food sovereignty for Indigenous migrants as rooted in practices of autonomy, care, and transmission of traditional knowledge. After the farm was demolished in 2006, I turn to the ways the spirit of the SCF lives on in the formation of decentralized gardens as a response to lack of food and land access. Repurposing empty lots, backyards and sidewalks for communal gardens, Indigenous migrants continue cultivating food communally. I draw on archival material, oral histories, and contemporary interviews to argue that Indigenous migrant placemaking creates life-making, life-giving, and life-affirming places. Utilizing abolition geographies and placemaking as frameworks, I show how these places make life through the cultivation of food, give life back to the land through regenerative practices, and affirm the lives of Indigenous migrants who care for the land and each other. I suggest that at the center of these placemaking strategies is the struggle for fresh food, land to grow it, and autonomy.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View