Jackson, MS – June 01, 2020 – The City of Jackson announced today that Fertile Ground, a documentary examining the extensive impact the industrial food system has on Jacksonians, will air on June 10th at 7pm CST on the Mississippi Public Broadcasting television station and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) will make the documentary available online here. On June 21st at 5pm CST Mississippi Public Broadcasting will re-air the documentary on their television station. The Fertile Ground documentary follows the life of local residents experiencing challenges accessing healthy food options, while also detailing the systematic policy failures that have allowed “food swamps” to thrive. Featuring interviews with local farmers, food activists and city leaders, the documentary also spotlights the growing possibility to transform Jackson’s local food system. This documentary is part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge. View the trailer here.
Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said, “This project is so important because we live in abundance, but we operate from a place of scarcity and in our society there is no justification for anyone to go hungry or anyone to not have access to healthy food options. In many respects, food is love in our communities. Food is a reflection of how we demonstrate our appreciation for people. And, in spaces where people have very little to offer, food is one of the few things that they can give you to demonstrate their love and appreciation for you. And so, as a city we should return the love and show our citizens that we want them to have an abundance of healthy food alternatives. The Fertile Ground documentary does an excellent job of portraying just how prevalent the problem of food access is here in our city and I am proud to have members of this administration actively working to remedy this issue for our citizens.”
The documentary team is comprised of homegrown, a host of Mississippi talent including, Executive Producer – Robby Piantanida, Director Alex Warren, Director of Photography, Aaron Phillips, Producer – Jocephus “Skipp” Martin, Sound Mixer, Taiwo Gaynor, Set Photographer – Drew Dempsey.
Salam Rida, City of Jackson Urban Designer said, “The documentary is an art project that inspires a larger conversation about the issues with our global food system. The COVID-19 crisis has brought a newfound awareness to Jacksonians about where their food comes from and how global supply chain volatility can disrupt our everyday lives. At the City of Jackson we hope communities can use this moment to move forward on how we would like to address food access and decentralize some aspects of our food system.”
The documentary is part of a larger initiative called “Fertile Ground: Inspiring Dialogue about Food Access”, which uses public art as a medium to inspire dialogue about food access in Jackson, Mississippi. The City of Jackson was awarded the grant from the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge in November 2018.
Mike Bloomberg said, “The Public Art Challenge is designed to strengthen communities like Jackson with moving works of art that highlight complex problems – and foster public discussion about solutions. Fertile Ground does just that, telling the story of a city that has too few healthy food options. It’s also the story of people – like Mayor Lumumba, artists, farmers, urban planners, and other local leaders – who are creating new opportunities to deliver better options. As the Coronavirus proves especially dangerous for those with underlying health conditions, and as African-American communities suffer the highest death rates, Fertile Ground has taken on new power and urgency.”
In addition to this documentary, the project is made up of physical installations deployed within food deserts across the city, community engagement sessions, a podcast series, performance art, a food policy roadmap, and a project opening expo that has been postponed due to COVID-19. The project brings together an interdisciplinary network of artists, designers, architects, farmers, chefs, nutritionists, policymakers, and community members to discuss the complexities of the City’s food system. To keep up with the project updates please visit the Fertile Ground website.
A press kit with stills and other information is available here.
About the Public Art Challenge:
In February 2018, Bloomberg Philanthropies invited mayors of U.S. cities with 30,000 residents or more to submit proposals for temporary public art projects that address important civic issues, and demonstrate an ability to generate public-private collaborations, celebrate creativity and urban identity, and strengthen local economies.
More than 200 cities applied for the 2018 Public Art Challenge with proposals reflecting diverse artistic mediums addressed a range of pressing issues and social themes such as community development, environmental sustainability, cultural identity and immigration. Fourteen finalists were announced in July.
Five cities won the Public Art Challenge: Anchorage, Alaska “SEED Lab,” Camden, New Jersey “A New View,” Coral Springs in partnership with Parkland, Florida for “Inspiring Community Healing After Gun Violence: The Power of Art,” Jackson, Mississippi “Fertile Ground,” and Tulsa, Oklahoma for “The Greenwood Art Project.”
More information about the Public Art Challenge can be found on http://publicartchallenge.bloomberg.org.
About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in more than 570 cities and over 160 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2019, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $3.3 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.
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