Urban Ag and The Good Food Movement

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by Dan Susman

When it comes to our food system, it’s easy to focus on the issues. GMOs and CAFOs, hunger, childhood obesity.

But what’s awesome is when people actually start doing something. I’m talking about urban farmers, who are transforming the food system from the ground up—one vacant city lot and backyard chicken coop at a time.

My friend, Andrew Monbouquette, and I traveled over 13,000 miles to visit these urban farmers all across the country. We turned our adventure—and these inspiring stories—into a film called Growing Cities. We wanted to show off the people on the ground who were doing something positive, right in their own backyards.

We found urban agriculture has remarkable power on many levels—it connects people to their food, strengthens communities, creates jobs, revitalizes blighted areas, and much more. Yet, what’s most exciting to me is that it gets people to reimagine what’s possible in cities. Urban farms challenge us to move beyond the urban and rural divide and examine how we can all be producers in a consumer-driven society.

Urban farming is making a move to tackle many of our issues. It won’t fix everything. But it’s a place to start, and it puts the power in our own hands.

It’s a place to start a movement. We’ve met someone of every age, race, and class who are growing food for reasons as diverse as they are people. This is not a hippie (or hipster) movement, though there are plenty of each. This movement is for anyone and everyone, whether you have a window, a rooftop, or a backyard.

As Eugene Cook, a farmer in Atlanta, told us, “We’re not asking you to grow everything. We’re saying grow something … grow where you are.”

Dan Susman is the director of Growing Cities, which has been accepted to broadcast nationally on PBS this fall — if the filmmakers can fund its airing. Please visit the film’s Kickstartertoday, and spread the word. We need to raise $30k by July 9th

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