October 13, 2009 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
As our access to fresh and local foods becomes more important to us, many of us have begun to grow our own, either on our patios, terraces, and rooftops, or collectively in community gardens. In a window box, schoolyard, or formerly vacant lot, urban gardeners are finding more ways to bring healthy nutrition to their tabletops.
I would like to promote two films that deal with the subject: Fresh, the Movie and The Garden.
FRESH celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Each has witnessed the rapid transformation of our agriculture into an industrial model, and confronted the consequences: food contamination, environmental pollution, depletion of natural resources, and morbid obesity. Forging healthier, sustainable alternatives, they offer a practical vision for the future of our food and planet.
Among several main characters, FRESH features urban farmer and activist, Will Allen, the recipient of MacArthur’s 2008 Genius Award; sustainable farmer and entrepreneur, Joel Salatin, made famous by Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma; and supermarket owner, David Ball, challenging our Wal-Mart dominated economy.
FRESH, the Movie:
For screenings in your area, or to arrange a screening:
The Garden follows the plight of the farmers of a fourteen-acre community garden in South Central Los Angeles, the largest of its kind in the United States, from the tilled soil of this urban farm to the polished marble of City Hall. Mostly immigrants from Latin America, from countries where they feared for their lives if they were to speak out, the film watches them organize, fight back, and demand answers:
Why was the land sold to a wealthy developer for millions less than fair-market value? Why was the transaction done in a closed-door session of the LA City Council? Why has it never been made public? And the powers-that-be have the same response: “The garden is wonderful, but there is nothing more we can do.”
Started as a form of healing after the devastating L.A. riots in 1992, the South Central Farmers created a miracle in one of the country’s most blighted neighborhoods, growing their own food, feeding their families, and creating a community. This oasis of fresh produce and community inspiration was bulldozed on June 13th, 2006, as a step toward a proposal to build a giant warehouse and distribution center for the Forever 21 clothing company which would generate an estimated 2581 diesel truck trips a day to this neighborhood already overburdened by carcinogenic diesel particulates.
The vision lives on in the South Central Farmer’s Cooperative: