A Short Film About < 49.6% of NYC Urban Agriculture

Posted: April 20th, 2011 | Author:

I stumbled across this lovely short film about urban agriculture, New York Farm City, using a title dear to my heart(!) and work (farmcity.us). ┬áThe piece features interviews with Daniel Bowman Simon about People’s Garden NYC, Ben Flanner about Brooklyn Grange, Gina Heatley from Harlem’s Nourishing Kitchen, and chef Patrick Connolly of Bobo.

New York Farm City from Petrina TV on Vimeo.

It’s a prettily shot film. I am all for any type of inspiration and promotion of urban agriculture. And I am not one to focus excessively on requiring that race, class or diversity be considered in every single discussion of urban agriculture because I think that all segments of society are needed to remake our city as a greener fertile food space. However, like the photo spread on urban farmers in NY Mag last year, this lovely little film shows only young, hip, white faces. Albeit, faces I know and like very much!

The portrayal of urban agriculture as the province of the young, caucasian and privileged has drawn much concern from some agrarians of a different hue, ethnic milieu and socio-economic class. In fact, the issue of inclusion and exclusion in sustainable food and farming was raised as the dominant raison d’etre motivating the launch of Black Farmers and Urban Growers conference in 2010.

In a moment, when non-hispanic whites are counted as a minority in NYC for the very first time (49.6% according to the 2010 US Census, See NY Times), artists and explorers of urban agriculture might consider how to depict or dream this bold new social & cultural agenda for urban agriculture to inspire all of us to make change together in solidarity. We should stretch ourselves to operate outside our separate spheres, moving beyond our cloistered comfort zones. Otherwise, I fear we may begin to topple our tiny sprout of a movement with its very fragile ideas barely rooted in our collective consciousness.

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