‘Grown in Detroit,’ an award-winning documentary made by Dutch filmmakers Mascha and Manfred Poppenk, sees promise in the abandoned lots in my hometown, where others see only devastation. The documentary chronicles an environmental miracle and unfolds a lesson for everyone about failure and renewal and why we should never give up hope. The city has tragically lost half of its residents, but one third of the city has become green again, and the Detroit government is allowing its residents to become urban farmers.
The documentary focuses on a public school where young African American girls who are pregnant or already young mothers are taught agricultural skills on the school’s own
Farm, located where the playground used to be. The students are learning by farming to become more independent women and knowledgeable about the importance of nutritional foods. They are also learning to make honey, since the bee population, almost extinct in America, is flourishing in Detroit. The extensive variety of native flowers on the vacant lots and the lack of pesticides make Detroit’s unique environment perfect for a very pure, organic honey production.
On their website at http://grownindetroit.filmmij.nl/, the filmmakers talk about how they have grown in love with Detroit and its residents. Sure, they admit, Detroit could be in a better shape but they argue that it’s one of the few cities left in the region with such beautiful architecture, history, community spirit and abundant nature. Too bad most of this country only believes the Murder Capital headlines – I prefer the optimistic view of the Poppenks and that after the most tragic circumstances, we can learn from our failures and help each other to start all over again.