Dispatches from the Field: How Does It Grow

In this month’s installment of our Dispatches From the Field column we feature another outstanding 2014 Catalyst Program, How Does It Grow, a multi-platform initiative that brings agricultural literacy for all ages. By creating media and other open-source, shareable tools, they work to reconnect people with how their food grows in order to inspire communities and comprehensively address diet-related illnesses.

How Does It Grow is built upon the power of storytelling and the expansive reach of communication technology, the project aims to be the most complete visual record of modern farming in existence.

From the project leaders, Nicole and Mark Jolly:

The Buckminster Fuller Challenge is so much more than a design competition — it’s an opportunity to reach higher and push farther. We were particularly inspired by the challenge posed by Bucky’s own philosophy: that we already have the technology to surmount the greatest global challenges, that we can do more with less, and make it work for 100% of humanity.

We believe that in order to repair our broken food system, specifically to overturn the subsidized commodity system that supports the junk food industry, we have to create greater market demand for nutritious, whole fruits and vegetables. To achieve this, we have to start with food education — and as Bucky would agree, we have to make it accessible to everybody.

We have the technology, and now we need to harness it. Video storytelling is a powerful way to communicate the stories of our food and to inspire people, starting in their youth, to make informed, healthy choices. The How Does it Grow? series takes its viewers to farms around the world to reveal not only how their food is grown, but the important issues that affect the global food system today, from food waste to sustainable farming practices.

We are working to build the first comprehensive online hub for agricultural literacy and food education — a one-stop (free) shop for learning about where our food comes from and how to incorporate healthy, whole foods into our diets. We want to break down all barriers to food education. For instance, if a school doesn’t have the resources to build a school garden, no problem — our videos will bring the garden to them. And we’ll do it through the power of broadcast-quality storytelling. Because junk food marketers shouldn’t be the only ones creating seductive broadcast content to inspire our food preferences.

After releasing just a handful of How Does it Grow? episodes, the videos have clocked over 120,000 plays in over 150 countries. Because this innovative series has been specifically designed to entertain while educating, about a dozen media outlets from Food & Wine to Yahoo Food have partnered with us to distribute our videos. Simultaneously, teachers across the US and UK are incorporating the videos into their lessons.

In addition to seeking the right sponsors to help us continue producing the video series, our goals of 2015 include working with experts and educators to create and curate lesson materials that will elaborate on the themes of each video. These will also be universally available on the How Does it Grow? online hub.

Bucky called for a creative revolution fueled by spontaneous cooperation. At the Challenge awards ceremony we were afforded the opportunity to connect with The Food Commons, a Challenge finalist whose inspirational work we hope to support with our own. After all, no one group can interrupt and improve the food system alone. But together, we can. Just ask Bucky.

Learn more about How Does it Grow? on their website: http://www.howgrow.org