Just two blocks from the Santa Cruz, California boardwalk that attracts flocks of beach-goers from Silicon Valley and the Central Coast every weekend is the Beach Flats Community Garden, or Jardin de la Communidad de la Playa. A green oasis in a concrete jungle, a very different group of people have been tending to a thriving community garden and providing healthy food access to their predominantly Latinx community for over two decades. The Beach Flats Community Garden is home to the oldest apricot tree in the county, rows of white corn, beans, nopales, tomatoes, limes, herbs, chayote and squash, and to a community of dedicated ethnically Mexican and Latinx gardeners that rely on this food.
On a sunny spring day, the Beach Flats gardeners unexpectedly receive a poorly translated eviction notice from the legal landowner, Santa Cruz Seaside Company. The same company owns the famous beach boardwalk and large swaths of high value real estate surrounding the garden. The newly planned use for the space is speculative. Rumors range from a parking lot for boardwalk tourists, apartment complexes, or the corporation’s “own agricultural purposes.” No Place to Grow takes us on a 9-month journey as this vibrant, historically Latinx community fights to save their community garden. This film addresses the issues of cultural marginalization, healthy food access, redevelopment and gentrification, immigration, food sovereignty, land security, and the struggle to live a good life. Over time we find out first hand what happens when ethnic livelihoods and migrated farming traditions intersect with the “Urban Growth Machine” and gentrification.