By Vernon Nickerson
Sometimes the best independent films are life-transforming. Other times watching and listening to an exceptionally well-told story makes the heart sing. From the collaborative team of Rob Herring (Writer-Director) and Ryan Wirick (Director), The Need to Grow is that film.
The subtitle, “Save the SOIL, Save the WORLD,” summarizes an intimate journey of a mother and Girl Scout Troup leader (Ms. Monica Serrano and her daughter Alicia and their four-year campaign to get the GSA to finally produce and sell non-genetically modified cookies during their annual springtime nationwide fundraiser. Their story takes them from neighborhood organic gardening activism in Orange County, California, to New York City’s concrete canyons.
On the way, they meet the organic farmer and entrepreneur Erik Cutter. Erik’s story, if it were a children’s book, might begin with this line: “Once upon a time in Orange County, California, the city of Irvine gave Mr. Cutter land and time and a critical mission. Specifically, Cutter is allowed to prove that a small one-acre farm could successfully employ three people and provide local restaurants farm-fresh organic vegetables one hour after they are harvested.
On their journey to the Emerald City (NY. NY) headquarters of Girl Scouts of America, Alicia and Monica Serrano meet Michael Smith, a former IT professional who is the brainchild behind an indoor organic vertical farm. Amazingly, the farm was producing organic fruits and vegetables in the dead of winter in Montana. None of the journeys of the main characters are smooth. Those “bumps in the road” engage the audience and weave a colorful tapestry of a magnificent film that is more than worth your time to watch and be introduced to sustainable organic agriculture.
For those familiar with the sustainable organic agriculture movement, there are cameo appearances by Dr. Vandana Shiva, physicist and organic seed activist, and Paul Stamets, mycologist and entrepreneur, among others. Each cameo reinforces the sense of urgency illustrated by the promotional materials: a United Nations estimate has revealed that we have fewer than 60 years of soil left on Earth.
Every horticulturist and anyone who has any interest and or experience in home gardening needs to watch this film. If you have been considering growing your own fruits and vegetables and live in an urban and or rural area anywhere on the continent called America, you will want to go and see this film.
Without much fanfare or unnecessary histrionics, The Need To Grow vaporizes the naysayers and NIMBY ( not in my backyard) folks who would like us to believe that sustainable agriculture is not possible or profitable. In fact, the billions(?) that Bezos and Branson are throwing away building rockets for Moon and Mars adventures could have revolutionized the agriculture industry in the United States of America.
As you might deduce from current events, the current elites and the entire Grand Old Party are aggressively against changing any systems to benefit we, the people. To truly understand what we the people are up against in order to have a nation that works for all of its residents– go and watch “The Need To Grow”- sooner rather than later.