The erratic weather did not keep local residents home as the 5 o’clock screening of Grown in Detroit had a nearly sold out crowd last Saturday afternoon. The Windsor International Film Festival were screening three films, in partnership with WindsorEats, where all three films related to (you guessed it) food.
Grown in Detroit surrounds a high school, the Catherine Ferguson Academy, which the student body comprises of pregnant women. There are only three high schools in Detroit who are only offered to pregnant women, due to the high number of teenage mother dropouts in the city. The school doubles as a nursery, as the young mothers would be able to focus on learning while knowing their daughters and sons are only footsteps away. The Catherine Ferguson Academy, which was founded in 1986, offered urban gardening courses to educate the student body on the importance of homegrown foods. Throughout the documentary, these women were responsible for harvesting honey, milk and other goods the old-fashioned way.
The responsibility of their child’s burden is enough for these young girls to deal with, but they need this education to make a better living for themselves. Commuting from their homes to school (which may take up to an hour or two due to the undeveloped transit system) is just one factor for these teenagers to overcome on a weekly basis. They were able to grasp the duties of growing local goods, and making a profit by selling these foods at the local market. This is a major development for the students since the principal stated these teenagers are five or six generations removed from actual farmers. The sincerity of the teachers and students towards the urban gardening initiative at Catherine Ferguson Academy makes this documentary depressing knowing that this year, the school had to close due to the inability for the state to financially support the institution.
Financial hardships plague Detroit as even the community cannot intervene in saving the Catherine Ferguson Academy. The current state of Detroit contains one-third of the city in vacant homes and one-third of the population living under the poverty line.
The pressing issue is the documentary however is the importance of local food, as the reliance of produce from other areas in the United States or internationally has its drawbacks. After the film, a panel consisting of one of the co-founders of WindsorEats and representatives of the Ford City Community Garden and the Windsor Essex Community Supported Agriculture project talked specifically of this topic. One response to this issue was the idea of an attack upon American soil, and transportation would be scarce due to intense security and protection precautions. This would put a halt on the produce we receive from the United States. That is just one idea though, how if the importance of local food is recognized, then we would not have to rely on international or out-of-province products. Windsor and Detroit have vacant areas that could transform into urban garden initiatives, but that rests with the jurisdiction of the city members. Community involvement is key here, and Grown in Detroit has taught that lesson to the student body of the Catherine Ferguson Academy, and for also the viewers of this film.