Casa Esperanza sponsored a screening of the motivational documentary “Urban Roots” at Santa Barbara City College last Saturday as they welcomed National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

In addition to the film screening, Casa Esperanza announced it is creating an organic community garden.

The film is set in Detroit, where corporations like General Motors run the city, leaving small businesses and grocery stores to fall by the wayside. Most of the food available to the city’s inhabitants comes from fast food joints or produce that has been shipped from around the country. Because of the lack of successful businesses and produce, the sale of fruit and vegetables is exploited and the products are often not even fresh.

“Urban Roots” was directed by Mark MacInnis, a Detroit local, and it follows several people from different agricultural and environmental groups around Detroit who have taken produce into their own hands. With so many vacant neighborhoods and lots that have been abandoned due to a failing economy, these groups have made an effort to make use of these lots with urban farming. By doing this, they not only promote community spirit, they provide fresh vegetables and fruits to several businesses and homeless shelters and also help feed a dying economy by helping small restaurants get the best food for cheap prices. Furthermore, the farmers, not having to worry about paying for food, can make a profit to live on.

Many environmentalists and academics have joined and are in support of the movement known as urban farming. They believe that as the industrial era is beginning to decline, the most important role we have as a society is to sustain ourselves in a natural and healthy fashion. What better way to do that than to produce our own food and replace abandoned, run-down factories with fresh greenery and nutrition? The groups in Detroit have gotten children involved, granting them a great learning experience outside of a classroom, and also offered it to criminal offenders as a form of community service. It sure beats picking up trash on the side of the freeway.

The documentary is an attempt to inform people that the future lies in our hands. We don’t have to rely on fast food, mini-marts or produce from across the country. Our children shouldn’t have diets that consist of Pop-Tarts, McDonald’s, processed meats and questionable fruit from a corner store. “Urban Roots” is a well-made, inspiring documentary, and it definitely got me interested in the prospect of farming. If I had a backyard with soil, I would certainly grow my own artichokes, or at least I’d try.

The fact is, this does not apply only to Detroit; it is relevant to every state and nation. The movement is growing by the day, and they are always looking for new volunteers. One organization located in Santa Barbara is Casa Esperanza, a homeless center that provides many services to the homeless, including food, shelter, counseling and job opportunities. They support the “Urban Roots” and have local farms where anyone is welcome to help out.

Anyone interested in the movement can check it out at and

I would also encourage anyone who is interested to check out the documentary as well. The 99 percent can now be 100 percent organic.