July 28, 2008

Urban Agriculture

Editor's note: We've been taking a brief siesta from the blog, but we're back now. Thanks everyone for reading, and welcome back to the Conversation! In the coming weeks, we'll be adding new posts with post-fest updates, office antics and just plain fun stuff.

July 28, 2008Posted by David Holbrooke, Festival DirectorMy Mountainfilm Commitment was to start a vegetable garden in our backyard in Brooklyn and as you can see from the picture below, it turns out that growing food is not so easy.


We have a couple of cucumbers and some tomatoes but a lot more weeds and brown dirt—and of course, holes that our crazy dog Lola has dug. The real problem with our yard is that half of it gets great sun while the other half is shaded all day.


Besides our own garden, one of my other commitments was to work on getting an Urban Agriculture movement started in our neighborhood. My first goal is to see if our neighbors will put in a greenhouse on their roof.

They have a reinforced roof (something many brownstones including ours do not have), plenty of sunlight and not unimportantly, money. Doing all of this—putting in irrigation and planting boxes and building greenhouses—are real capital expenses and I hope I can convince them of its importance.Since my friend Carol Black (whose film Schooling the World premiered at MF 2008) offhandedly mentioned the value of urban agriculture, I have become slightly obsessed with the idea. It makes sense on so many levels and could solve a variety of problems.I have also seen the idea showing up a lot in the media. Michael Pollan wrote about the value of Victory Gardens in the NY Times Magazine Green Issue and I came across this article in a nice little magazine called Edible Brooklyn.Despite our own lack of real edibles in our backyard so far, we are going to continue to try and grow food super-locally. To be honest, it is really my wife, Sarah who is leading the charge on this—I yap about it but she does most of the work.She has also led the way into another bit of Urban Agriculture for us: chickens. A number of years back I saw a short doc called Chickens in the City at a film fest and made the mistake of telling Sarah about it. Since then she has been slightly obsessed with getting our own chickens, something I have been protesting.With all the noise I made about Urban Ag, she was able to convince me that we could take on a chicken or two. Of course, that ended up being a chicken for each family member (mine is named Oeuf) that she ordered from www.mypetchicken.comThey showed up via US Mail three days after they were born and I have to admit they are cute as hell.


My kids are over the moon (in fact as I write this, my six year old son, Wiley is downstairs in the basement playing with Sasquatch, Casey, Sugar, Omelette, Dr. Bob and Oeuf). What the photo does not convey is how much our apartment now smells like a barn.The chicks are big enough to move outside now and hopefully the smell will abate. Soon, they should be big enough to be laying eggs (the Urban Ag part of all of this) … I will keep you posted.

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