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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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  • Kristy B.

    I love it! Especially in LA the Growing Food Truck is a great metaphor for how we can take back our food supply and our health! All I want to know is when is the edible parade?

    I think that little girl has the right idea, “monkey bar,eat a strawberry, monkey bar, eat another strawberry”

    Thanks lads! PS: King Corn! Great film guys! Keep up the good work.

  • BGreggJ

    I’m not sure it’s safe to grow edibles in old PCs… heavy metals, dioxins, & such aren’t good for people; not sure how they can prevent those toxins from leaching out and being absorbed into the food.

  • BGreggJ

    …but, I did grow a spider plant in an old typewriter… and, gave it to my typing teacher as a gift. [It was well received, but I don't know how long it lasted.]

  • Neer

    What a great story. And adorable kids :)

  • Jen O’Neill

    What a fabulous concept! I love, love, love it! It’s inspiring me to try one myself after our failed attempt to plant a large family garden in our yard.