Filmmakers capture urban agriculture in Flint


Published September 21, 2009

FLINT, Mich. — Two filmmakers from Michigan State University are examining the emergence of urban agriculture as part of efforts to revive a city that's emblematic of the auto industry's decline.

Geri Alumit Zeldes and Troy Hale have started a documentary tentatively titled "The Greening of Flint: Master King Fights and Farms." They've shot and edited some footage, and are seeking funding for a full film.

"It's going to give a good historical perspective — where the city has been, where the city is trying to go with community agricultural efforts," Zeldes said Friday.

The title hints at one of the likely subjects: Jacky King, who runs a karate school and farm with his wife, Dora, just north of Flint. Some footage the filmmakers said could open the documentary has been posted on YouTube.

Zeldes and Hale plan to film other urban farmers in Flint and get some of them to shoot footage themselves. They'll train them in filmmaking techniques and loan them digital video cameras.

"It actually gives the people of Flint ownership in the film itself," Hale said.

After lining up funding, they expect shooting and production to take about a year.

Hale, 32, is an academic specialist with the department of telecommunication, information studies, and Media. Zeldes, 38, is a Flint native and assistant professor in the school of journalism.

For Zeldes, the project is personal because of her Flint roots. She's regularly returned to her hometown over the years and recently has seen how agriculture is being seized upon as a way to help remake the city.

"It was so refreshing for me as a native to see people with such hope," Zeldes said.