The documentary Truck Farm, about a whacky Brooklynite growing vegetables in the back of his Dodge truck, is a fun look at urban agricultuture and a great teaching device for kids. In addition to truck farms, the movie features such unusual veg-garden sites as barges, rooftops, and the atrium of a highrise. Check to see if there’s a screening near you.
I saw the movie at a screening to benefit D.C.’s Neighborhood Farm Initiative and found out that the Brooklyn truck farmer has inspired a whole fleet of them, including the one in the photo below. How that happened starts with an article about the original truck farm in Landscape Architecture magazine, which got the attention of some activist-type students in Denver, who rallied nutrition educators and hunger reduction activists across the U.S.
Which led them to call the guys at the DC Central Kitchen. Joelle Johnson and Karli Hurlebaus (shown below with DCCK founder Robert Egger) promptly launched an online fund-raising campaign, which raised $4,600 and a donated truck from Goodwill. And voila – a fully planted-out farm on wheels – with built-in vermiculture, too. Here’s a schematic of the truck and how it works.
Because as a teaching tool, it’s way cooler than nutrition pyramids. It gets attention – especially kids’ attention (not so easy to do). This truck has visited over 40 youth programs (ages 5-18) over the last 6 weeks, providing meals and a one-hour show-and-tell around the truck.
Joell and Karli here run the whole shebang. Though neither of them had a teaching background OR a gardening background, they had enough enthusiasm to make it work. The secret to their gardening success? Starting with the square foot method, and winging it from there.
The USDA’s People’s Garden donated plants and supplies to the project, and all summer has been displaying the truck at their weekly farmer’s market on the National Mall. I’m told it’s been quite the attention-getter with tourists and government workers alike.
On feeding the poor, and Begging for Change
Click here to read my blog story about Robert Egger’s “amazing journey from night clubs to soup kitchens.” He’s pretty awesome.