By Supriya Kumar
Having grown up on a farm in Idaho, filmmaker Karney Hatch has always felt connected to agriculture, even after moving to Los Angeles. It was while he was living in the city of Angels, that he became interested in urban agriculture. Alarmed by the countless lawns that adorn the LA landscape given the city’s water scarcity – in order to meet a 15 percent increase in demand by 2030, the city will have to save 32 billion gallons a year – he questioned why residents didn’t grow crops on their land, instead of just grass.
Filmmaker Karney Hatch is embarking on an international urban agricultural tour in a quest to improve agricultural policies back home. (Photo credit: Karney Hatch)
After a little research, Hatch realized that he was not the first person to pose this question. Urban agriculture has been around since the existence of cities and projects, such Heather Flores’ Food Not Lawns, have led to a number of movements in the United States, Canada, Europe and around the world, that are converting gardens and neighborhoods in to food-growing communities. Although Hatch was happy to see such initiatives already in place, he felt that there was a real need, and room, for growth. What would it look like if urban agriculture was scaled up in the United States? What would Los Angeles look like if enough livestock was raised within the city limits to feed city inhabitants?
As a filmmaker, whose work includes a feature length documentary, Overdrawn, which looks at the lending practices of national banks, Karney Hatch was determined to use his talent to investigate this issue, and put it in a form that would be easily accessible to citizens and policymakers.
After talking to food and agricultural experts, Hatch decided to look internationally for examples of urban agriculture for lessons and advice, which he could bring back to LA and the rest of the United States. “With the current trend of high food prices, we are facing a food crisis. We need more sustainable ways of living, and urban farming can be one of those ways,’ explained Hatch.
In his quest for successful urban agricultural stories, Hatch has bought a one-way ticket to China. From there, he hopes to travel to Vietnam, India, Africa, and Europe, and be back in the United States by November of this year. His findings will be produced in to a documentary, which he plans to be finished by the summer of 2012.
Hatch anticipates that his documentary will coincide with the energy and excitement of the 2012 elections in the United States, where he hopes policymakers will take notice of the issue. Currently, there is only one bill on urban agriculture, and with the ongoing debate on the Farm Bill, Hatch hopes that his movie will generate more interest in agriculture. He believes that there is a need for the government to become more involved in order for urban agriculture to be scaled-up nationwide.
Click here to learn more about Karney Hatch’s upcoming travels and documentary. And, click here to support Hatch’s journey and ensure that he makes it out to all the countries on his list. Donors have the opportunity to win prizes, so don’t miss out!
Supriya Kumar is a research fellow with the Nourishing the Planet project.