“Before long the most valuable of all arts will be deriving subsistence from the smallest area of soil; no community whose every member possesses this art can ever be the victim of oppression” – Abraham Lincoln
With a surprising 80 per cent of people in the United States now living in cities, the country’s agricultural supplies are being pushed to their limits, but some intrepid Americans are finding new and imaginative ways to grow food in urban areas.
Growing Cities follows the adventures of childhood friends Dan Susman and Andrew Monbouquette, who, having been inspired by their studies into sustainability, set out on a journey to discover how people in cities across America are using “urban farming” techniques to grow their own food and revitalise their communities.
Beginning in the pair’s home town of Omaha, Nebraska, Growing Cities takes audiences on an inspirational journey across America’s landscape and features interviews with green-thumbed individuals who are involved in a range of farming projects, from home-grown gardens to large-scale community ventures.
In Detroit, a group of intrepid gardeners is using the city’s many vacant lots and abandoned factories (remnants of the car industry) to create transportable community gardens which feed local families and beautify the landscape. In Chicago, a not-for-profit organisation called Growing Home is using farming techniques to upskill and rehabilitate disadvantaged people. And in post-hurricane-Katrina New Orleans, former New York teacher Nat Turner is using farming to educate and empower kids through his “Our school at Blair Grocery” project.
Growing Cities Trailer from Growing Cities Movie on Vimeo.
Directed by Susman, Growing Cities also explores America’s deeply rooted (forgive the pun) connection to farming and food production. From the victory gardens of World War I to the community gardens of the Boston Tea Party era, the film uses research and historical photographs to prove that urban farming is more than just a new-age craze.
The film throws around a lot of buzz words such as “urban agriculture”, “vertical space” (growing upward, not outward) and “food justice” (an individual’s right to access fresh, healthy and affordable food regardless of their location). However, its message about the environmental, economic and social benefits of sustainable food production is clear, and the farming ideas presented could easily be applied to urban environments across the globe.
Growing Cities is a thought-provoking exploration of sustainability which will challenge the way audiences view (and hopefully use) the land around them.
Growing Cities is screening at the Mercury Cinema at 4pm on November 9, with a discussion afterward featuring Costa Georgiadis (Gardening Australia) and Nat Wiseman (founder of Wagtail Farm).
Click here to read InDaily’s interview with climate-change expert Stephen Bygrave about another of the festival films, The Future of Energy, which is screening tomorrow (Friday). The Transitions Film Festival runs until November 19 and the full program is online.
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