Growing Cities Blog

Why I want to see Growing Cities on PBS: Mandy Mowers, screenings coordinator

July 1st, 2014
Mandy Mowers

Why I want #GrowingCitiesonPBS: Mandy Mowers, Screenings Coordinator from Growing Cities Movie on Vimeo.

Hi. My name is Mandy Mowers, and I’m the screenings coordinator for Growing Cities. That means I’ve gotten to talk to hundreds of fabulous community-minded folks around the country and the world this spring and summer. These people have been interested in bringing Growing Cities to their communities, to help inspire their neighborhoods to grow where they are.

I saw the film in Omaha last fall. Finally. Dan Susman, the director, has become a good friend of mine, stemming from the ultimate frisbee field. We’d been hearing about this film for so long, I couldn’t believe I was finally getting to see it.

Going in, I knew the film was about gardening and growing food in cities. I had no idea just how inspiring it would be.

I loved that the documentary was so positive. I love documentaries, but they can be draining. They are often about issues affecting our world, and I’m left with a heavy, guilty sense. Growing Cities did talk about important issues of our time, but I left feeling light, hopeful, excited.

My friend Betsy and I (thank goodness I got to be her plus one!) talked the whole way home about growing food.

I’d been wanting to start a garden, but I’d resigned to just forget it for the time being. My apartment’s already-limited ground soil is soaked in lead. And I suffer from a black thumb for all vegetables. Houseplants, fine. But if it’s food, I will kill it.

Growing Cities inspired me to contact my friend Marcia, who is a master gardener. I’d help her with the labor of her garden if she’d teach me to nurture those elusive fruits and vegetables. I helped her plant seeds. She sent me photo updates later in the week of our sprouts.

As the summer has picked up, I confess I’ve slipped in my apprenticeship. But I am determined to learn to grow food, and I know Marcia will be on call when it comes time for me to start planting my own garden.

I also registered for an aquaponics class. Betsy is a teacher whose summer class last year built an aquaponics system (with help). That was the first, and the film was the second time I’d really heard about aquaponics.

These systems use fish and plants to feed each other—and to feed you. I’m deeply interested in learning more.

And finally, I was inspired to join the team at Growing Cities, to help spread word about good food and get even more people excited to grow their own. The film has been featured in more than 25 film festivals and at more than 200 community screenings.

I got involved in this project because I believe deeply in the message of the film. You don’t have to grow everything, but you can grow something. And every little bit helps move us toward sustainability.

Because the truth is, we have got to think about future generations. We’ve got to learn and then be able to teach sustainable agricultural practices, and we’ve got to do it in the cities where we live.

Me, I loved the small town I grew up in. But I live in a city now, and I think I’ll probably live in a city when I raise my own family. I want to be part of building a better world right here in the city.

A message like that belongs on PBS. I want kids to see it. I want adults to see it. The people I’m thinking of might not go looking for a documentary on sustainable agriculture or farming in the city. But they might find it if it’s on public television. And maybe they’ll get excited about urban farming too — just like I did.

Please help us spread the word about the Good Food Movement by donating to the Kickstarter today:!

Let’s Get Growing Cities on PBS!

June 9th, 2014
Mandy Mowers

We are SO thankful for the HUGE amount of support we’ve received in getting Growing Cities out into the world. Growing Cities has been an official selection at 25+ film festivals and screened in more than 200 communities worldwide. WOOT!

And now we have the chance to spread these inspiring stories of urban farmers even further:

We can be on PBS!


A national PBS broadcast would give the film exposure in millions of homes across the nation. (We’re guaranteed into a minimum of 80% of PBS markets, and with a little extra legwork, we may be able to get into 100%. That’s practically every home with a television!)

But we need your help. We are responsible for all the costs involved in getting Growing Cities onto PBS. In fact, we need to raise $30,000 to make this happen. So we’ve launched a Kickstarter to raise these funds.

How you can help:

1. Make a pledge. Your support, no matter how small (or large), makes a BIG difference to us.

2. Please spread the word! You’ve already got a community interested in urban farming, and maybe in this film too. We’d love to have you share us on Facebook, Twitter, by email, or a blog post.

Here are some templates for sharing (feel free to copy):

Facebook: We want to see @Growing Cities on PBS! Please support their campaign on @Kickstarter: #GrowingCitiesonPBS

Twitter: We want to see @GrowinCities on PBS! Support their @Kickstarter now: #GrowingCitiesonPBS

Email to personal contacts:

Hey friends and family,

I have been inspired by this great little documentary called Growing Cities. It tells the stories of urban farmers who are not only raising good food, but growing and strengthening their communities.

Now the filmmakers are trying to get Growing Cities on PBS. The film has been accepted, but they have to fund its broadcast. Please check out their Kickstarter and consider supporting this inspiring film:

The basics:
Growing Cities: Let’s Get Urban Farming on PBS!
Goal: To raise $30,000 by July 9th to air this Fall
Kickstarter link:

Email to community after a screening:

Hey everybody,

As you know, we screened this great little documentary called Growing Cities. It was a great success for our community, and now we have the chance to help get this film into millions of homes across the country:

We can get Growing Cities on PBS!

The film has been accepted by American Public Television, but the filmmakers have to fund its broadcast. Please check out their Kickstarter and consider supporting this inspiring film:

The basics:
Growing Cities: Let’s Get Urban Farming on PBS!
Goal: To raise $30,000 by July 9th to air this Fall
Kickstarter link:

Blog post

Help us educate the nation about the Good Food Movement!

An inspiring new documentary film, Growing Cities, about urban farming in America has the opportunity to be broadcast on PBS nationwide this fall — if the filmmakers can raise the funds to make the broadcast possible.

In Growing Cities, filmmakers Dan Susman and Andrew Monbouquette travel the country, visiting everything from rooftop farms to backyard chicken coops. They discover urban farming is about more than simply good food, but also growing stronger and more vibrant communities, too.

Growing Cities has been an official selection at more than 25 film festivals and screened in more than 200 communities worldwide. A national PBS broadcast would give the film exposure in millions of homes across the nation, spreading the Good Food Movement further than ever.

The hurdle the filmmakers now face is to raise $30,000 to sponsor the film’s airing nationally on public television this fall.

We can help! They’ve launched a Kickstarter project that will run for 30 days. Since Kickstarter is all or nothing, the project must meet its goal of $30,000 by July 9 for the filmmakers to receive any of the funds pledged.

Please consider supporting this project and, with it, the Good Food Movement!

The basics:
Growing Cities: Let’s Get Urban Farming on PBS!
Goal: To raise $30,000 by July 9th to air this Fall
Kickstarter link:

And feel free to share this digital postcard image. If you’re really gung-ho, you can also make your Facebook banner match ours too!

Again, thanks for being part of this movement to help inspire millions to Grow Where They Are!

Civil Eats Kickstarter Campaign

September 21st, 2013
Editor-in-Chief Naomi Starkman and Managing Editor Paula Crossfield on the set with Michael Pollan. Photo by Robin Moore.

Editor-in-Chief Naomi Starkman and Managing Editor Paula Crossfield on the set with Michael Pollan. Photo by Robin Moore.

There is currently a Kickstarter Campaign for Civil Eats, an organization whose focus is truly one to admire–getting helpful and pertinent information about the food system out there for all eyes to see.

What follows is an excerpt from a post on the Civil Eats website, all about their campaign.

For nearly five years, Civil Eats has brought you extensive coverage of food policy stories, from the farm field to the halls of Congress. You might not know that our site is a labor of love and has been run entirely without paying anyone–ourselves, our editors or our writers.

That’s about to change, but we need your help: Today, we’re launching our Kickstarter Campaign which will take place over the next 30 days and we’re asking 4,000 of you to please donate $25 each to help continue our work in 2014.

If we don’t fund Civil Eats by the end of the year, it could be forced to shutter its doors.

Our Kickstarter aims to raise enough funding to shift the site from an all-volunteer effort to a professional enterprise in 2014 so we can produce more in-depth, original reporting and visually engaging content by paying our writers and editors a fair wage.

We also plan to expand our community resources on the site so that you can better plug into the issues that impact you. In addition, funding will help us maintain Civil Eats during that time so that we can continue to produce some of the most groundbreaking and informative news on food today.

Reade more HERE!


Vermont Sail Freight Launches in October!

September 9th, 2013

Forward: Since this post is based in personal experience, I figure I would introduce myself to avoid confusion. My name is Kim and I’m happy to say I’m working as an intern for Growing Cities! I am very excited to be blogging with you all from now on!

During World Water Week last week, I could not help but be reminded of an amazing project that I’ve been following for the past year. I was lucky enough to go to college in beautiful Vermont, where there are so many people rethinking our food system. One of whom I have had the chance to meet on a couple of occasions (he’s a real “diversified” farmer, experimenting with rice, using draft horses, milling his own grain for the delicious bread he sells at local markets, the list goes on!). His name is Erik Andrus and the first time I met him, some classmates and I were making a film about his farm and about why he does things the way he does ( and the second time I was helping him bale hay (which was one of the most fun experiences in my life). But I remember him, even at that time a couple years ago, talking at length about the newest project that had been buzzing around his head. It was fairly simple: using solely water and wind power, carry and sell Vermont products down the Hudson Valley waterways, all the way to New York City.


Last fall, he launched his Kickstarter campaign for Vermont Sail Freight, and along with partnership from the Willowell Foundation in VT and the Greenhorns, the project was soon a GO! To see the building process, look at their blog

I’m excited for this project for many reasons, but two of which stand out in relation to urban agriculture and meeting the food demands of urban centers. The Vermont Sail Freight Project is one that connects city residents with good food from producers – whose main concerns are quality of their products and health of their land, communities, and children – in a sustainable manner. The vessel has a practical design: “the Vermont Sail Freight Project’s synthesis of these new and old influences led to this prototype design, 39 feet long, 10′ wide, and capable of carrying 12 tons. She’s suitable for lake, canal, river and harbor navigation, adept at handling and sorting cargo, and is an attractive means of delivering produce directly to our customers” and only needs a small crew. If the vessel, named Ceres, proves to be as cost and energy effective as she seems through her upcoming voyage, maybe we could be seeing more sailing barges pop up on our waterways. As Greenhorns put it:

“As we conceive of the next 10 years in local food system development, and the entry and scaling of next generation farm operations– distribution is a keystone issue. We’ll be working on the vast re-design of processing, aggregation, transportation, and value-adding, for a regional food system that is fair, transparent, and synchronizes product flow without pinching the farmers unfairly. As we embark re-building a regional food system, we’ll do well to recall our history, and the trends that have disempowered producers and served to centralize and concentrate control of the supply-chain– this sail boat project is a perfect vessel for a tremendously important conversation about distribution.”

I couldn’t agree more! (More on the VSF website


Another thing about this project is that it uses technology to its advantage. It was an internet-based startup, which will pre-sell its goods through an online market called (also started in VT) and will allow customers to track Ceres’ progress on Google maps as she sails downriver. I think it is the perfect marriage of something old and something new. There is something very physical and personal about this project, reminding us of the old trading routes and maritime history, and at the same time, it uses the internet to both facilitate the public’s connection to the project and to create a system that is easy for customers to get involved. I enjoyed how the Greenhorns dubbed the project on the website, as a “poetic water-shed connection to the marketplace and eaters.”

Ceres launches in October! For more information, visit

The images on in this post are from the VSF blog.


UPDATE #1 Kickstarter

April 24th, 2012

 What YOU can do to help spread the word!!

·      Share with social media.  Post us on your wall, tweet about us, pin us to your pinterest board — do whatever you can to tell your friends about this film and our campaign!

·      Write ten emails.  Sharing on social media is great. But, what works best—to get donations, at least—is getting personal.  To make it easy, we’ve drafted a quick email (see bottom of update) which gives you a simple way to share us.

We’re asking every one of YOU to send this out with a little personal note to at least ten of your friends.  This will be incredibly effective in helping draw more people into our campaign.  Please feel free to add your own personal touch…especially if you know, have met, (or feel like you’ve met) Andrew or Dan!

·      Talk to people.  Lots of them.  Seriously.  Kickstarter is a great topic of conversation…and once you start talking about Kickstarter, you can’t help but mention your favorite project that you are backing right now (that would be us…)  And, of course, offering to send them a link!



How’s it going? [INSERT PERSONAL]  I’m writing to let you know about a great looking documentary film, Growing Cities, which I’m supporting on

The film follows two young guys across the country as they meet folks who are revitalizing cities by growing food.  They want to inspire people to grow healthy communities across the country, but they need some help!!  To finish the film they need to raise $35K in 30 days to get the film out to as many people as possible.

I hope you will consider making a donation (no matter how small or large) to help them out.  You can watch their trailer & pledge here.  If you can’t make a donation, I hope you will share with others.


Young Food Activists Capture the Growth and Energy of Urban Farming on Film

April 17th, 2012

***For Immediate Release***

 Filmmakers Dan Susman and Andrew Monbouquette traveled 12,000 miles to meet the leaders of the urban farming movement. With over 140 hours of footage to show for it, they are now launching a Kickstarter campaign  to help finish the film.

Omaha, NE (WEB) April 12, 2012 – Independent filmmakers and food activists Dan Susman and Andrew Monbouquette have thirty days to raise $35,000 for their feature film, Growing Cities, a documentary about urban agriculture in America.

After growing up in Omaha, Nebraska near factory farms and fast food outlets, they resolved to seek out the people who were growing food in a healthier, more sustainable way. “Everyone is really tired of hearing about all the problems with our food system,” says Susman, age 24.  “So we figured it was time to show off the people who were doing something positive, right in their own backyards.”

He and his childhood friend, Monbouquette, also 24, visited more than eighty urban farmers—from rooftop gardeners to backyard chicken keepers to vegetable farmers – who are working to transform the way this country grows and distributes its food one vacant city lot at a time.

Growing Cities Kickstarter

“Urban farming has remarkable power on so many levels,” says Monbouquette, “it connects people to healthy foods, strengthens communities, creates jobs, revitalizes blighted areas; and much more. That’s why this story is so compelling.”

Growing Cities is the first film to focus specifically on urban agriculture across the country. The film shows viewers the vast potential to transform our food system in the unlikeliest of places.

They also learned there’s no such thing as a typical urban farmer. “There is no single face of the urban farming movement,” says Susman, “and no way to sum up in a sentence or a headline. That’s part of the magic and why it will be so powerful to put their stories into a film.”

The filmmakers are beginning to raise money for the film’s post-production using Kickstarter, the increasingly popular online fundraising platform.  They must raise $35,000 by May 15th in order to complete the film by early 2013.  To learn more about the film, readers can visit the project’s pitch page here.

For questions, press inquiries, or other comments please contact:

Dan Susman

And we have lift-off!

April 16th, 2012

The Kickstarter campaign is finally launched and underway! We had a magnificent turnout at the launch party- thank you to all who attended, it was so nice to finally meet some of you. Keep track of our fund-raising progress and if you can- make a donation. We would greatly appreciate it!

Every little bit counts!



Launch Party

April 10th, 2012

Hello everyone,

We are gearing up to start our Kickstarter fundraising campaign! If you’re in the area, we are throwing a little launch party to kickoff the fundraiser and premiere our trailer. Stop in, say hello, grab a bite, and donate what you can! We’d love to meet you!


Thursday, April 12th
Watie White Studio, 1314 William Street
Omaha, NE 68108
5:30pm – 7:30pm

Hope to see you there!



PS Because you are awesome, here is a FIRST LOOK at our movie poster — be the first to get one at our fundraiser (only $20) OR get one via Kickstarter starting tomorrow!

Kickstarter Sweet Prizes

March 13th, 2012

One of the sweet prizes you can win on our upcoming Kickstarter…the elephant, not Dan.