Having worked professionally as a sustainable food advocate for the past decade, I’ve ended up watching many, many films about food and agriculture. I love that these films are being made, but I’m not going to lie to you, dear readers, I’m kinda sick of watching them. So when I saw that a rough cut of the Growing Cities documentary was being screened as part of this year’s Urban Agriculture Conference, I almost skipped it. But the event was near my apartment, and admission was free for conference attendees, and it was advertised that there would be a reception with complimentary cheese, which is a fairly effective device for compelling me to do just about anything. Ultimately, I was very glad I attended the screening – because Growing Cities is the most inspiring food film I’ve seen to date.
The documentary chronicles an epic road trip taken by filmmakers Dan Susman and Andrew Monbouquette, who crisscrossed the US to explore the emergence of an urban agriculture renaissance. Weaving together a series of interviews with practitioners, advocates and beneficiaries of urban food production, the film tells a relentlessly positive story of ingenuity and creativity and innovation and opportunity, celebrating the efforts of an ever-growing community of individuals who’ve made the simple, yet decidedly radical decision to reject convention and produce food in cities on their own terms. The motivations and models and logistics and scales and scopes of these efforts vary wildly – but that’s part of what’s so incredibly exciting about the movie and the movement: there’s such tremendous possibility in urban agriculture, and so much room for growth.
Watch the Growing Cities trailer in our media player (above, right), and check out the Growing Cities website, which includes a map of urban ag operations throughout the US. The filmmakers hope to use the documentary and accompanying website to support urban farmers and empower more people to take an active role in reshaping our food system.
Catch the World Premier
If you’re in Portland, OR, this Sunday (September 1), join the filmmakers for the Growing Cities world premiere at the Portland Film Festival. I don’t know if they’ll have complimentary cheese, but the screening is free, and definitely worth attending. Find details on the facebook event page, and watch Dan and Andrew’s Portlandia spoof if you need convincing.
Growing Cities will also be screened on September 19 at Farm Aid 2013 in Saratoga Springs NY (details on the Farm Aid events page). Check the Growing Cities website for additional events and community screenings.