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Food Forward 

New PBS documentary explores America's pockets of urban agriculture

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Stett Holbrook has been writing about food and restaurants for the Bohemian ever since joining us last summer, but what readers don't know is that when Holbrook first came to me, as editor, he'd just finished a road trip around the country in a 1966 Airstream trailer with his wife and two small children. The reason? He'd been filming a TV show for PBS called Food Forward, focusing on practitioners of the small but growing revolution in urban agriculture all around the United States. This week, the show finally premieres on KQED.

My advice: watch it. In a half hour, Food Forward packs in vignette after vignette—each could be its own compelling episode. We see rooftop gardeners in the West Village, community gardens in the Bronx, a tilapia farm in Milwaukee, an urban beekeeper in Manhattan, and in the Bay Area, Abeni Ramsey, from West Oakland. Ramsey went from buying Top Ramen for her family at the corner store to installing planter boxes and raising chickens; she now sells produce and eggs to area restaurants and runs a successful CSA.

Food Forward hits upon an especially poignant scene in Detroit, where supermarkets are scarce and malnutrition runs high. Here, Holbrook discovers a thriving community-agriculture network, where burned-out lots are converted to gardens and a sincere love of the land prevails. Reading about urban farming is one thing—honestly, it can seem the province of coattail riders with each new trend piece that's written—but meeting the real people of Food Forward who make a vital difference in their communities is refreshing, hopeful and inspiring. Food Forward premieres Monday, April 9, on KQED at 7:30pm.—Gabe Meline

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