May 24, 2006

Joan Baez joins tree-sitting bid to save LA garden

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Folk singer Joan Baez sang "We
Shall Overcome" from a tree-top perch in Los Angeles on
Wednesday in a bid to save a community garden from demolition.

Baez, 65, who gave voice to civil rights and anti-war
campaigners in the 1960s, joined Julia "Butterfly" Hill, an
anti-logging activist, in taking up residence in the tree in
the 14-acre (5.7-hectare) fruit and vegetable garden in gritty
south Los Angeles.

Baez will take shifts occupying the tree with Hill, who
spent two years in the late 1990s sitting in a northern
California redwood to highlight the plight of ancient forests.

The threatened Los Angeles garden is tended by some 350
farmers, many of them immigrants, who have been growing fruits
and vegetables there since 1992.

"It's an extraordinary community of people and creativity
in this industrial part of the city and it literally gives life
every way," Baez told reporters, after singing a verse of "We
Shall Overcome" in Spanish.

The farmers are threatened with eviction after a court
battle over ownership of the land between the city of Los
Angeles and a developer who wants to build a warehouse there.
The developer has offered to sell the land for $16 million but
no one has yet come up with the money.

Actress Daryl Hannah, a keen environmentalist, joined a
small group of supporters who have raised some of the money.

"We've come up with $6 million, which is unbelievable. If
everyone in the city just gave one dollar, this place could be
saved," she said.