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Tree-sitter lands in urban garden after 19 days

Rufina Juarez, Julia Butterfly Hill
Farm leader Rufina Juarez, left, takes over a vigil from activist Julia "Butterfly" Hill, who descended on Saturday after a 19-day stay and 26-day fast in a tree located on a 14-acre urban farm in south Los Angeles. Damian Dovarganes / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Famous tree-sitter Julia “Butterfly” Hill came down to earth Saturday at an urban garden that is under threat of development.

Hill ended 19 days aloft in a walnut tree and also broke a 26-day water-only fast.

“I ate a couple of bites of food from the garden today,” she said by telephone.

Her place was taken by Rufina Juarez, a farm representative.

Hill, who gained fame by living for more than two years in a California redwood, said she remained at the garden until replacements were trained to allow “the community to shine its own brilliance.”

The 14 acres of produce and flowers are located in an inner-city area surrounded by warehouses and train tracks. The garden, farmed by about 350 families, has been around for several decades but the landowner, Ralph Horowitz, wants to replace it with a warehouse.

An attempt to buy most of the land through a nonprofit trust for $16.3 million failed last month when donations fell short. That prompted protesters to set up a tent city and use the walnut tree as a watchtower in case Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies tried to evict them.

The garden has drawn visits from such celebrities such as actors Darryl Hannah and Martin Sheen, and folk singer Joan Baez.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)