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Truck Farm: Unusual Urban Garden Project

By Michelle Edelbaum, "Greens on the Go," May/June 2010

King Corn filmmakers Curt Ellis and Ian Cheney are experimenting with urban agriculture for their next film.

If you live in Red Hook, Brooklyn, you’ve probably seen King Corn filmmakers Curt Ellis and Ian Cheney—they’re the guys cruising around town with a garden planted in the back of their pickup. “If we’re going to drive somewhere, we have to drive the farm,” says Ellis. “But we can’t really go over 40 or soil starts flying out of the back.” The duo planted arugula, lettuce, tomatoes, hot peppers and more in the bed of the gray 1986 Dodge Ram, their only vehicle (and the same ride they drove cross-country for their award-winning documentary King Corn). It’s all part of the Truck Farm project the pair started last year: part political statement, part urban agriculture experiment and all-around great fodder for their next film, Truck Farm. Ellis and Cheney talked with us about their first year as truck farmers and what they hope their garden can yield.

truck farm

How was Truck Farm’s first year?
We were shockingly pleased. We’ve been gardening for 10 years and this is the most abundant garden that either of us has ever grown.

How much food did you grow?
We had three full harvests of arugula, made 20 little jars of hot sauce using jalapeño and habanero peppers, and all in all got a couple shopping carts-full of produce. Not enough to feed the world, but enough to inspire you to grow your own.

What did you do with all the food?
We started a CSA and fed 20 people from it. Shares cost $20.

This project is about more than just food, right?
It has political consequences too. We want to address the fact that many American neighborhoods are food deserts—places where people don’t have access to fresh foods—whether they’re urban neighborhoods that only have liquor stores or rural places with acres of corn, soybeans and livestock, but no other fresh food is being grown. Creative agriculture is our response to that.

You’re going on tour this spring…are you taking the truck?
We’re driving around to some universities and elementary schools in the Northeast to remind people that eating healthy, quality food can be fun. The farm is beautiful and engaging and it’s a hoot to see it roll up to your school. We want students to think about where they can grow food—plant a window box or a patio container. And we want to build momentum for students who are working to get local, sustainable food into their cafeterias.

Watch a trailer for Cheney and Ellis’s Truck Farm:

Photo Credit: truck-farm.com



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