Wednesday, March 18, 2009

About the Movie

PolyCultures: Food Where We Live is a feature-length documentary movie that portrays the diverse communities around Northeast Ohio coming together to grow a more sustainable and equitable food system. PolyCultures is firmly rooted in the idea that local food is good for the health of individuals, communities, local economies, and the environment. To balance the advocacy perspective, it features many national and international experts who place area food production in the bigger picture of sustainability. The term “polyculture” refers to the ecologically-minded technique of growing a diversity of crops/animals on one farm, but it also represents the documentary’s participants coming from very different backgrounds to arrive at similar conclusions and take coordinated action. The aesthetic is a mix of “agrarian” camera techniques portraying post-industrial Cleveland and surrounding farmland, symbolizing the ground-level nature of this movement.

PolyCultures was produced by LESS Productions in conjunction with the New Agrarian Center from 2006 to 2009. The movie officially premiered at the 2009 Cleveland International Film Festival, where the number of screenings was doubled due to audience demand.


  1. Wish I could be there to see it at the festival! Hopefully I'll have an opportunity to see it soon, either here in Chicago or eventually via the internet.

  2. We had the opportunity to view Polycultures video:

    Two thumbs up for City Fresh and their mission of providing fresh food to our local neighborhoods! The opportunity would otherwise have been lost if not for this organization bringing the goods to the community since resources for most are limited at best. As we see more of a decline in urban neighborhoods, there is a decrease in places to obtain ‘real’ food. It is the simple fact that it is easier to buy ‘convenience foods’ over fresh foods.
    The education that Polycultures video provides is a real eye opener, we all knew it was there, but seems that you just don’t talk about it or feel that you can do anything about it. We have the ability in urban cities to grow and produce food! It doesn’t take acres of land to grow food that will accommodate people; taking advantages of patches of land all over the city will help people eat healthier, in addition, to filling in bare, vacant land.

    Thank you for contributing to making this city a better, healthier, thriving place to live!

    Thanks, Kristina

  3. Thanks Kristina - I'm sharing your note of encouragement with some of the main people behind City Fresh as well...

  4. I recently had the chance to view the Polycultures movie. I was very impressed by the City Fresh organization and their efforts that bring local fresh grown produce to so many communities. I was also glad to see that some of the food was provided by local community gardens from the area. I like the concept of community gardening and believe it is a great way to infill many of the vacant areas of Cleveland. It also gives the residents of densely developed areas a location to have a garden space. While this is a great opportunity for fresh food I do not think it will be able to replace the corporate farming system. I do appreciate the research and testing of eco farming practices that were shown in the video. I hope that many of these concepts practiced at this small scale can eventually be absored into the large scale farm.

    Overall I liked the video and its lessons. Films like this are a great way to help to educate people in some of the simple ways to keep themselves and the environment healthy.

  5. I recently viewed the Polycultures movie, which opened my eyes to the City Fresh initiative. City Fresh just opened a new market by Cleveland State, which I had the joy of visiting. So, thank you for the information to make me feel comfortable about purchasing there.

    I agree that we need to start with education and information. I live downtown Cleveland and there are so many corner stores, but not nearly enough grocery stores with good produce. So, I think this local fresh food is the best idea for the city.

    I was shocked about the effects of industrial fertilizer. It makes sense that if the fertilizer is produced industrially how do you know what your getting put into it. And although organic farming may be more labor intensive it is definitely worth it.

    Investing in the community is really what we need to be doing in Northeast Ohio. I love to go to Great Lakes Brewery and The Market in downtown Cleveland. The food is delicious and it puts your mind at ease. You are eating really fresh, great tasting food.

    It is very important for Northeast Ohio to use it's local farmers. We are lucky in our positioning to be surrounded by fresh water and farms. As a society we need to use these resources to the best of their potential. I found it outrageous that only 1% of people farm in America. As a country we are relying on imports and oil far too much and it will only be that much more devastating in the future. The time to change is now. I think it is great that people around Cleveland are reusing vacant land. There is so much of it lately that reuse in unique ways is possible. And the feeling of growing, weeding, and harvesting your own crops is a great feeling. I hope these urban farms will allow more people to share in the joy and hardwork of producing their own food.


  6. I also got to got to view the movie recently. I thought it was both very well done, and covered an issue that I run into living in downtown Cleveland. Typically, I have to leave my apartment on E 9th and drive out to W 117th to the Giant Eagle to get to a grocery store. While the one at Reserve Square is closer, it seems to pander more to a very limited area around it, especially since I have difficulty finding a parking spot, and walking a mile back home with bags and bags of groceries isn't much of an option.
    I also thought your coverage of the corporate farm as it exists today was interesting, since despite living in the downtown now, I grew up in the flat farm lands in Mid-Ohio (did I mention I could really relate to a lot of issues you talked about?) and have seen a thousand acres of non-edible corn first hand.
    All that being said, there was an issue you brought up that I feel wasn't adequately answered. In the very beginning of the film, it stated that the major problem of getting food into the city was actually getting the food into the city. The film then went on to talk about all the problems associated with modern farming and the corporate takeover of Ohio's crops, and I kept waiting the whole time for some sort of resolution to the question of how food could be better brought in to the city center.
    I felt that while the issue was raised well and discussed to a point, it was never really brought to any kind of conclusion. I'm guessing that it's because there isn't really a good answer, which is fine, but the film just seemed to skip over the whole issue.
    Anyway, let me say again how much I enjoyed it, and I'm really glad to see that our city is really coming together in a really cool mix of helping others, citizen interest in urban farming, and a feeling of taking back our food from people who are more interested in quantity over quality. Really well done film.


  7. I really enjoyed this video and its focused look into local issues. I was glad to see local businesses highlighted for their efforts in using local items, like the fairly closed system at Great Lakes. Here in Ohio, we have such a resource in both the land and labor that it is astonishing how much produce we import.

    I found the information on City Fresh useful. I live in Lakewood and had read a little about the LEAF program, but never really knew much about how the program worked or who was supplying the food. The sheer variety of produce is amazing; I will be getting a share next summer for sure!

    Living in Lakewood, I am able to recycle most of my trash and find that most of what still goes to the landfill is compost-able. Many of the garden spots talked about in this film used composting as a way to replenish the dirt. Do any of these locations take food scrap 'donations' as a way of supplementing their compost? I would much rather put my veggie peels toward new veggies that toward filling up a landfill.

    Thanks so much and great film!