The family farm becomes Sycamore Estates

Last week I posted a couple links to work from The Ration, UC Berkeley’s News21 2011 project that focused on food reporting. Today I thought I’d share another really wonderful piece from them produced by Thomas Gorman with contributions from Carl Nasman, Malia Wollan, and William Fritch. “Lost in Sprawl” focuses on fourth-generation Phoenix-area farmer Matt Moore as exurban sprawl starts to overtake the acreage his family has farmed for decades. Moore is thoughtful, critical, and humane in his reflections about the process of transformation underway that began long ago. In addition to being a farmer, he’s an artist; check out his fascinating websites here and here.

A few highlights from the video below are also touched on elsewhere, such as this recent profile of Moore by Richard Nilsen. For example, watch for the striking aerial images around the 2-minute-33-second mark: “In 2005, [Moore] took a 35-acre chunk of his land and planted wheat and sorghum in alternating areas in a design that echoed the street plans of the surrounding housing development. From the air, it looked very like the tract housing.”

Both the video and Nilsen’s article touch on Moore’s consideration of the modern consumer’s disconnect from produce: “”How long does it take to grow a carrot? I did a film about it at Sundance last year, and when I asked, I got all kinds of answers. ‘Thirty days?’ It takes me 160 days to grow a carrot. When you’re at the store, it’s just a commodity, but start peeling back that onion and it’s endless. You sit there and think about 160 days. How much water, how much labor? Organic or non-organic, food grows in the ground and it takes time.”

Take a few minutes to watch the video below: I promise it will be time well spent.


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