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Urban Agriculture Series #3: 5 Films to Get your Hands Dirty

Urban Agriculture Series #3: 5 Films to Get your Hands Dirty

Everyone loves a good film, right?  Here are five of my personal favs recently made about urban agriculture and the local food movement, as well as, landscape architecture and urban design. They are all inspiring and informative and have one common thread: landscape architects have the power to change the world.  Hope you enjoy the show!

#1: Edible City: Growing the Revolution (2012)

Main Topics Covered: Local food movement, transforming the food system, food education, grassroots activists, societal and health benefits, and community farms.

Quick Summary: If you’ve ever watched Food Inc. you’ll know that in reality, the movie is quite depressing… thankfully so, this movie is far from it. Edible City offers the glass half full version of our current food system (primarily focusing on urban farms in the San Francisco area), it shows us what we can do, and how it positively affects the community around us. I’ve seen this movie multiple times, my favourite part takes place in the classroom, the teacher begs one of her high school students to try a fresh made smoothie, and after much persuading, he finally tries it and enjoys it. Believe it or not, the boy had never tasted a smoothie before. This movie reveals that change is possible. 

Landscape Architect Inspiration: After seeing the smiles on people’s faces after a day full of farming, harvesting, and cooking, why wouldn’t LA’s bring that opportunity to everyone in the world; we have the opportunity to design spaces in the city that can be used for food production, community outreach, and education programs all focused around food.

To watch the preview, click here

#2: Fresh (2009)

Main Topics Covered: Industrial food system, animal distress, alternative farming methods, community outreach, and new food movements.

Quick Summary: Fresh is sort of a mix of Food Inc. and Edible City, it starts dark, and gives a peek into the truth about feed lot farms, industrial farming, and conventional growing methods, but then it switches gears. It becomes a little more inspirational, it shows people physically changing the way they eat. The goal of this movie was to raise awareness, and to “shift to a different paradigm” for the future. Very inspirational, showing that you too can make a difference. One of the best parts of the movies is when the owner of Polyface farms (and my personal favourite farmer), Joel Salatin, gives us a tour of his amazing farm. 

Landscape Architect Inspiration: Can landscape architects create designs that make people healthier? Can we create designs that bring us more access to food, and more access to nature? Or maybe we can redesign agriculture? Perhaps we can give conventional food animals better places to eat and sleep, so they can be treated fairly too?

To watch the preview, click here

#3: Dirt (2009)

Main Topics Covered: Soil science, soil in relation to building materials, food production and nature, soil erosion, climate change, and, deforestation.

Quick Summary: Dirt goes into detail about dirt. Anything and everything there is to know about it, you learn. Sort of from the perspective of an environmental scientist, this movie shows us all the things we as a society are doing wrong, and how it is negatively affecting the soil. Not as depressing as some of the other food related movies, it is more of an eye opener. Most people don’t even realize the crucial importance of soil. 

Landscape Architect Inspiration: All projects in an LA’s portfolio have to do with dirt, grading, and soil movement, we need to be more aware of how much soil we are disrupting, where it goes, and the method of extraction. Some more possible things to think about are, green cities, industrial sites back to their natural state, anti erosion practices, and organic farming practices. 

To watch the preview, click here.

#4: Women in the Dirt (2009)

Main Topics Covered: Design, sustainability, beauty, and female roles in society and design. 

Quick Summary: This documentary follows 7 female landscape architects – Cheryl Barton, Andrea Cochran, Isabelle Greene, Mia Lehrer, Lauren Melendrez, Palmela Palmer, and Katherine Spitz – through their journey in design and sustainability. Through inspirational talks and example projects, Women in the Dirt provides a strong example of how women have a great influence over the profession. Director Carolann Stoney, won the 2009 American Society of Landscape Architects Student Honors Award in Communication for this movie. 

Landscape Architect Inspiration: This movie provides an emotional, inspiration for women empowerment in the landscape architecture profession, it shows a different side of LA, and how beauty and sustainability can refine landscape architecture.

To watch the preview, click here.

#5: Urbanized  (2011)


Main Topics Covered: Urban design and planning, city center evolution, urban installations, and strategic design solutions.

Quick Summary: Urbanized goes into detail about the design of urban spaces. It focuses on the challenges a city faces in the present and future. Most of these concerns are only tackled by the professionals, when in reality the public uses urban spaces the most, and they are unaware of certain problems. It shows many precedents and examples from around the globe. This movie will make you think next time you are driving down the street, or walking in your urban center, as “everything is designed.”

Landscape Architect Inspiration: Although the movie does not focus primarily on LA’s work, if you read between the lines it certainly does. LA’s are working with architects, urban planners, policy makers, and of course the public, more and more to design city projects. If we know what the other professionals are thinking and doing, and some of the restrictions they are facing, then it makes it easier for us to do our jobs and to provide solutions as a creative – and successful- whole. 

To watch the preview, click here.

Lead image taken from Urbanized. 

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