No Place To Grow

What happens when migrated farming traditions intersect with the “urban growth machine”?
Year Released
Film Length(s)
27 mins
Remote video URL


No Place to Grow follows a group of Latinx farmers who find themselves representing a movement to save the last green space centered within a neighborhood facing gentrification in Santa Cruz, Ca. Over time we find out what happens when migrated farming traditions intersect with the “urban growth machine”. Set in a small city known for its liberal ideology, a community becomes conflicted as the fate of the garden is in jeopardy.

Featured review

Seasons are synonymous with change, yet the film No Place to Grow, demonstrates that social change does not follow the same climatic cycles governing the land. ...The film poignantly demonstrates how the garden is a site of contestation, where a confluence of influences intersect, including food security, land access, gentrification, and cultural marginalization. The viewer learns how power dynamics play an instrumental role in determining how social change(s) are articulated, and the inspiration of community mobilization in shaping a future trajectory that reflects their aspirations for the future.
Emilia Noel Ptak The University of Vermont
FooD Anthropology


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.


'At one meeting captured in the film, supporter Chris Cuadrado says, In fighting for this, we're not just fighting for this specific garden, we're fighting to preserve an infrastructure of resources that are for the Latino community here in Santa Cruz.'
-Good Times Newspaper
-Good Times Newspaper
No Place to Grow is so important, and will only become more relevant with climate change, the financialization of everything, the sellout of the natural world.
Mischa Geracoulis

Awards and Screenings

Official Selection: D.C. Environmental Film Festival, 2020
Official Selection: Colorado Environmental Film Festival, 2020
Official Selection: Watsonville Film Festival, 2020

Director Commentary

As a filmmaker, I was drawn towards this story and this garden for many reasons. First, I felt like this garden was so unique. There are a lot of community gardens in Santa Cruz, Ca but The Beach Flats garden is so different: The way that they grow, their farming techniques and traditions, the heirloom seeds they’ve brought from El Salvador and Guatemala and Mexico—what they’re growing there is not like anything I’ve seen anywhere north of the border. Second, it was a story that was happening in real time, a story that I could capture and track as it unfolded, which I think makes for a more compelling viewing experience. Third, once I met Don Emilio and the other gardeners and witnessed their immense knowledge and dedication to the land, I knew that knowledge in and of itself was worth capturing, sharing and preserving. Lastly, I knew that other communities are dealing with similar issues of gentrification, land rights, green space and food sovereignty, this isn’t unique to just the Beach Flats and could be a story that we could all learn something from.

Features and Languages

Film Features

  • Resources for Educators

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

Opens in new window