Nearly 300 guests packed the Bossone Research Center Auditorium at Drexel University to watch the screening of Urban Roots, a documentary based on an urban farming movement in Detroit, Michigan.
Before the screening, guests had the opportunity to watch West Philly Grown, a short 15- min film created by Drexel University graduate Clay Hereth. The film focused on West Philadelphia’s Mill Creek Farm, a nonprofit urban farm located at 49th and Brown.
According to the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, “there are approximately 40,000 vacant lots in the City of Philadelphia.” West Philly Grown showcased how the Founders of Mill Creek Farm were able to reinvent a vacant lot into a flourishing urban farm, similar to those depicted in Urban Roots.
Mark MacInnis, the creator of Urban Roots, anxiously waited for the Urban Roots screening to begin. Mark said he was, “very excited to show his film in Philadelphia” after traveling across the country from California.
MacInnis takes his viewers on a journey that raises awareness of several urban farms in Detroit. The film focuses on the rise of Detroit’s urban farming and what it truly means for a community to come together to make sure everyone has access to fresh, healthy food.
The screening ended with a Q & A session from a panel moderated by Dr. Eugina Ellis, a Professor at Drexel University. The panel included Sarah Wu, Outreach and Policy coordinator for the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Johanna Rosen, a founder of the Mill Creek Farm, Dan Pohling, the founder of South Philly Co-op, Phil Forsyth, the founder of the Philadelphia Orchard Project, Ryan Knuck, the Sustainable Programs Manager and Farming Manager of Greensgrow Farms, Chris Bolden-Newsome, Farmer Educator of Bartram Gardens and Mark MacInnis, the director of Urban Roots.
During session, the panelists discussed Philadelphia’s urban farming current successes as well as current plans for the future. In many ways, “the issues around Detroit’s urban farming is very similar to Philadelphia’s. It is Philadelphia,” said Dan Pohling.
Topics of discussion included the importance of education, getting the community involved and how policies could impact current and future urban farms.
Many of the attendees said they felt inspired by the film and gained more knowledge about the issues surrounding urban farming. In cities like Detroit and Philadelphia, urban farming is no longer “just for farmers” but for anyone, anywhere who cares about their community and the food they eat.