More than 150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln said, "Before long the most valuable of all arts, will be deriving subsistence from the smallest area of the soil. No community whose every member possesses this art can ever be the victim of oppression." I may not have as much quote cred as old Abe, but I say, “America needs a million new farmers fast – and they have to stick with it – for us to have any chance at a better future.”
The film “Growing Cities” starts with the Lincoln quote. In the realm of smart farming for the future, this film covers familiar territory, but we need a perennial diet of good films like this. The filmmakers visit Will Allen, an exemplar of spirit and commitment. He posits 50 million new farmers.
Numbers aside, the point of the travelog “Growing Cities” is that people across the country are delving into myriad ways to plant the seeds of a sustainable farming future, especially in cities. In cities, where 80 percent of the people live, there are vacant lots, empty warehouses, rooftops, lawns, balconies. Bring on the compost.
The best community efforts, especially in disadvantaged areas, cultivate attitude. Through inclusion and mentoring, people occupy a better time and place that reaps not only healthy food, but healthier connections, including connections to a bigger picture.
“Growing Cities” wonders whether young urban dwellers will become farmers, whether they’ll stick with farming. It connects us well to a needed sensibility by the thousands that hungers to germinate by the millions.