Editor’s Note: West Coast Fellow Claire Cummings has transitioned into a newly created position of Waste Specialist. Please welcome our new Fellow and the BAMCO blog’s newest contributor, Andrew Monbouquette!
After growing up in Nebraska, the land of corn and cattle, I didn’t hear the term “sustainability” until I enrolled at Willamette University in Salem, OR, in 2006. And not until my sophomore year did I really connect the need for sustainability to the food system. I thought sustainability was all about recycling, driving personal cars less, and turning off electronics after leaving a room. However, the Bon Appétit-run café I relied on three times a day soon clued me in to food’s link to climate change — and shocked me in the best way possible.
Exposure to the unsustainable aspects of the food system ultimately inspired me to partner with a friend from middle school to make a documentary film about urban farming, called Growing Cities. We traveled more than 13,000 miles across the United States, meeting the men and women challenging the status quo of food production and inspiring people to re-imagine what’s possible in urban settings. Set to release this spring, the film is dedicated to food and social justice, youth empowerment, and the revitalization of local economies and vacant land. (Watch the trailer.)
Producing Growing Cities not only allowed me to explore one of my strongest passions in filmmaking but also developed my passion for using food as a tool to grow healthy communities. The experiences I gained will no doubt help in my new role as Bon Appétit’s West Coast Fellow. I’m eager to infect students with my enthusiasm and give them the tools to participate more knowledgeably in their food system.