Two friends from Omaha, Nebraska, are creating a film exploring the phenomenon of urban farming across the USA. Dan Susman and Andrew Monbouquette have just returned from a coast-to-coast roadtrip visiting the numerous “growing cities” around the country, discovering – through many local examples – that new kind of community is growing exponentially, and that local food can exist even in the largest metropolises.
The Growing Cities website and blog alone show how urban agriculture in the United States is developing into an important national movement. A map on the website illustrates the more than twenty stops on the trip, with the links to each urban agriculture experiment: a small but representative inventory that allows us to pay a virtual visit to these places of rebirth. The website also contains a film preview and stories of the people met during the trip.
The two young men questioned themselves on the meaning of the word “growing” and decided to emphasize this alternative development model that is combining food production, education, new short supply chains and the possibility to access fresh produce in big cities. This way of “growing cities” is gaining more and more importance in the world of Slow Food with many convivia and Terra Madre food communities already particularly active in this field, not only in the USA, but also in Africa, Latin America and Europe.
For example, students from the University of Gastronomic Sciences had the possibility to experience urban agriculture in New York during their field trip earlier this year, and see how much, even in a city like the Big Apple, the reality of innovative urban agriculture is flourishing, not only for environmental and educational purposes, but also from the point of view of mere production. Young people from “Brooklyn Grange” (a one-acre farm on a rooftop, also featured in the film) explained to the visiting students how their mission is first of all to demonstrate the economic sustainability of such projects, through selling direct on-site, in farmers’ markets or to the growing network of restaurants serving only locally-produced food.
The film “Growing Cities” shows that cultivating towns is possible, involves creativity and the recovery of ancient knowledge and, most importantly, a new sense of community in places where it seemed to be long gone. In a nutshell: another type of city is possible.
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