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Travels with the truck farm

Photos and audio by Stephanie Hughes

Not many big-city residents have access to large patches of dirt.  That means urban gardeners have to get creative with the places they plant fruits and vegetables. Filmmakers Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis (known best for the movie “King Corn”) decided to use the back of a 1986 Dodge pickup truck as growing space. They planted vegetables, and created a CSA (community supported agriculture) that members can join for $20 a year to receive produce.

The two are filming a documentary about the truck, and as part of that, they’ve been visiting schools to speak about urban agriculture. They also hosted a contest among students across the country to see who can grow food in the most unusual place. And the winners are … green beans grown in a lunch box, planted by a second grader at the Glover School in Marblehead, Mass. (elementary school category), a disco ball that flourished with plant life, by a group of sixth graders at Brooklyn Prospect Charter School in Brooklyn, N.Y. (middle school category), and a garden planted in a functioning bicycle by students at Brown University (high school/college category)!

We tagged along with the truck farm as it visited several New York City schools (PS 376 and PS 59 in Brooklyn, and the High School for Math Science and Engineering in Manhattan), and heard ideas from students about possible growing spaces.

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