Essay | The Farm

In Middle School, I used to walk home every day around 3:00 PM. I would look down at the floor while I dragged my hand along the chain link fence. Sometimes I would look up to make eye contact with the chickens and move on.

Did you know there were chickens in my Middle School? Probably not, because this conversation has never come up before. But there were. There were chickens, a couple of cows, some peacocks, and a handful of pigs. I may also remember an ostrich, but they may be an invention of my imagination. You know how unreliable memory can get, randomly inserting awkward, flightless birds into places where there were none.

The point is, we had a farm. I don't know why in the middle of the city there was a farm attached to a middle school. I would be very interested to know who came up with the idea. Maybe they thought it would make an interesting juxtaposition -- the concrete city and the fenced in farm animals. Or maybe they were passionate about bringing horticulture education to kids while they were young. Perhaps everyone was required to propose a change to the school, and this person simply thought of the first thing that came to his or her mind, thinking no one would buy it.

Regardless, it was there, it was a farm, and it didn't fit with the rest of the school/neighborhood/city/zip code. It was the location of the Horticulture class, which was undoubtedly the least popular class in school. It was the dirty, smelly, crap-infested bottom of the barrel. The class with which teachers would tell their students about in hopes of frightening them to be good students.

"Be sure to register on time," they would warn. "Or else you'll get stuck in Horticulture!"

I was fortunate enough to never be one of those stragglers, doomed to a semester of raking cow dung and what have you. Today, the farm no longer exists. In my last year there, I was approached on my walk home by some random student, asking me to save the farm. Me? Save the farm? With my bare hands? Who are you to ask me to battle to save this last bastion of rural country life?

Oh, a petition. I just sign it? I guess. Do I have to put my real phone number?

Either they didn't get enough signatures, or the administration didn't listen to the petition. The farm is no more. That side of the street no longer smells like pig, and you will never see a large ostrich egg there ever again. I thought that maybe they were going to bulldoze it to make room for more class rooms. Public LAUSD schools could always use a few more rooms, especially new ones. But that isn't the case here.

To this day, it's just a grass field segmented into squares of different sizes by chain link fences. It's not a field for play, or a building to learn. There's nothing to see here, so kids just keep walking home.