Movie Review: ‘Growing Cities’ Will Make Urban Farming Your New Obsession

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EcoSalon reviews a new documentary about urban farming.

Do you feel overwhelmed by all the negative stuff happening in the world? Want to create sustainable change but aren’t sure how to tackle massive issues like social inequality, insufficient education, food deserts, consumption, waste, and unemployment? Yeah, me too. But those feelings fell away when I watched “Growing Cities,” a new documentary about urban farming by young filmmakers Dan Susman and Andrew Monbouquette.

The movie opens with short introductions by Susman and Monbouquette. Like many of us, they used college as an excuse to flee their hometown. Natives to Omaha, Nebraska, the pair fled to the coasts to find themselves, and others who wanted to change the world. After discovering their passion for sustainability, food, and film making, they decided to return home, but only long enough to gather supplies for their next adventure: a nationwide a road trip to meet the men and women who are challenging the way America grows and distributes its food.

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Urban farming may seem like a cliche term batted about by people who can afford to shop at Whole Foods, but Susman and Monbouquette’s adventure proves that the reemergence of city-based farms is much more than a yuppie past-time. The film follows their journey to San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Detroit Milwaukee, Boston, New York, Atlanta and back again. At each stop, they meet hardworking community members who’ve chosen to dig in (literally) rather than surrender their neighborhoods to blight, violence, or poverty.

Watching “Growing Cities” exposes the viewer to many different styles of urban farming. You’ll see folks growing food in vacant lots, front yards, on rooftops, and in abandoned buildings. Some of these urban farming operations are brand new while others are decades old, remnants of the Victory Garden era–a time when growing food was endorsed by the government and considered the most patriotic act one could perform, aside from enlisting.

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As hungry as it will make you to see all the fresh fruits, veggies, herbs, and even eggs and fish growing on these urban farms, the food isn’t even the most inspiring part.

What I loved most about “Growing Cities” was the way that it demonstrates how urban farming can be the simple, sustainable answer to many of the problems plaguing our society. Cities that grow their own food are also growing economic security, healthier citizens, a stable job market, an educated and multi-skilled workforce, and perhaps more importantly, a sense of pride and accountability for the environment around us.

The film was released last fall at film festivals, and is beginning community screenings this spring. The creative team invites you to host-a-screening for Earth Day or to kickoff the gardening season. Doing so will share the “Growing Cities” journey with an America that believes in a more sustainable, just, and healthy future for all!

I highly encourage you to watch, but be warned: a side-effect of this movie is that you’ll immediately want to get your hands in the dirt.

Related on EcoSalon

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Revitalizing Food Deserts: 3 Ways To Bring Healthy Food Where It’s Needed Most

Foodie Underground: Truck Farm

Images via Growing Cities