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Change is in the air

April 7, 2013

It is spring here in the temperate San Francisco Bay Area flowers are blooming and change is in the air.  I have begun planting seeds for this years garden with some uncertainty. The future of the house that my husband and I rent is up in the air.  The (not rent controlled) house needs much work and the landlord will need to raise the rent in order to do the work. Our landlord has been nothing but fair in the nearly 11 years we have lived here, but the rents for open units in our area have nearly doubled since we have move in, we are unsure about how this will turn out.  For the last few years I have been working a part-time job for pay and as close to full-time as I can on the “From the Ground Up” (not paid), so my financial situation is a bit fragile. Why am I bringing this up on the blog? Well, the garden at this house is was the first inspiration that led to “From the Ground Up”. The thought of leaving the garden, neighbors, and our community breaks my heart.  At the same time “From the Ground Up” is nearing the finish line as well, although I will never be truly “finished” with it, with the future looking like it is most of my attentions will need to be elsewhere.

Seedlings 2013

Seedlings 2013

Where is “From the Ground Up” at now? We have the first rough-cut of the main movie and are currently working on changes from feedback we have received.  We are researching music and getting ready for the illustrator and animator to get started (a big thanks to everyone who contributed for this part on IndieGoGo last year). We are planning the new website, editing shorts, and looking for partners for some really fantastic ideas that came out of the BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship last year.  We are also looking for ways to fund the final stages and make the future of the project sustainable.  I have been thinking about financial sustainability for “From the Ground Up” and would love to hear from people their thoughts on paying for media.  Do you pay for media on-line? Would you pay for a “From the Ground Up” community screening kit? Would you pay to watch it on-line? The short videos are free on-line now, would you pay or use something like the Vimeo Tip Jar function?  This has always been a labor of love for myself and everyone who has worked on this project, but in order to keep the project going we need to start generating some funds. As we continue to puzzle this out I keep thinking about a TED talk I saw recently and how “asking” is so much more nuanced than we think it is. If you have any ideas we would love to hear them.

Thank you and happy planting!

Kristi Adams


Happy 2013!

January 2, 2013

2012 was a very productive year for From the Ground Up; we have a rough cut that we screened and received great feedback for us to work from, we posted a new short on-line with more in progress, and we were a Bay Area Video Coalition MediaMaker Fellow.

The BAVC fellowship was a great experience and we felt so privileged to be a part of such an accomplished group of filmmakers.  This fellowship has made a major impact on the project, refining the long term plan for the film and identifying ways to make the media more interactive and how it can help foster community building. We are very excited about utilizing new technology and social media to reach more people and in more meaningful ways. We cannot wait to show you – so stay tuned!

We also raised $4,280 with our end of year crowd-funding campaign, thank you! So many people contributed and spread the word for our campaign, we cannot tell you how grateful we are for your support.  We will need to raise more money in 2013, the final stages of this project are going to cost tens of thousands of dollars, but we can do it, with your continued support.  We are planning more seedling sales, house parties, and another crowd-funding campaign in the spring.  You do not need to wait for any of these, you can make a tax-deductible donation any time through our fiscal sponsor the San Francisco Film Society – just go here

So, now we are going to be working on the film and holding rough cut screenings, if you would like to participate in one of these please email me and we can put you on the list. We will be putting up more shorts on YouTube and Vimeo, so please subscribe if you want to see the latest. We are going to be building a new website!  This is super exciting and we cannot wait to get going on this.  We would love some help with this as well, if you are a designer and want to participate or know someone who is, please contact me.

Our plan is to finish the movie in 2013, this is going to be tough, but the time has come.  We want to get this movie out in the world where it can inspire people to start growing some of their own food, meeting neighbors and eating healthier.

Plant a seed. Nurture it. Grow something amazing.

Thank you again and I hope your 2013 is fruitful and delicious!

Kristi Adams
Director of From the Ground Up

Thankful & Hopeful

November 23, 2012

From the Ground UpHappy Thanksgiving Weekend!
As you know, I am in the process of finishing my documentary From the Ground Up. I am thankful for all the amazing people I have met while making this documentary, they have inspired me and changed my life. When I started making this documentary I thought it was going to be a movie about the growing urban farming movement, but is has developed into a multi-layered project about participation, people becoming more involved in their communities, economies and cities. When someone starts food gardening they are taking an action, doing something that is at once traditional and revolutionary. Gardening is an effective tool to educate and address larger issues in the world: the environment, land use, industrial farming, labor policy, water conservation, seed patents, food safety, and so much more. The best part is that these issues do not need to be spelled out, they become obvious with the action of planting a seed, feeding the soil, watering, harvesting, cooking and seed saving for next year.  These are issues that I am sure you are concerned with, that is why I am asking you to join our crowdfunding campaign that will help to raise the necessary funds to finish the film.

From the Ground Up is nearly complete; the movie is shot and is currently being edited. We have a talented and dedicated team of people involved in this project who have been working with us for years and we want to make the best movie possible for them, as well as for the farmers and gardeners in it. In order to do that we need a minimum of $15,000 to obtain archival footage, music, and illustrations for the animations.  We are running our crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo, which is similar to Kickstarter.  The campaign ends midnight November 30th – only seven days from today. So far we have raised over $2,600 with over 39 people contributing, please join them in supporting the hard work and vision of everyone involved in the project.

How do you join the campaign?
– First go to our campaign page:
– Then watch the video and check out our very nice perks (Things that you can get for contributing like: digital download or DVD of the film when it is finished, t-shirts, beverage koozie, urban farming book, seeds, photos, Victory Garden collectors items, urban farm tour and much more)
– Check out the comments other people have left and leave one of you own.
– Pick a perk or contribution amount that works for you and press the Contribute Now button.
– Share the campaign with your friends and family! This is just as helpful as contributing money, it helps us get the word out not just for fundraising, but for building an audience for when the movie is finished.

Thank you for your encouragement and support,
Kristi Stephens Adams

P.S. – Besides joining in on our crowdfunding campaign you can help by following us on twitter and liking us on facebook (and invite your friends). Thank you!

Special Guest Blogger Genevieve Brazelton

November 9, 2012

Hello!  During our crowd-funding campaign we will be having a series of guest bloggers to share their experiences urban farming and cooking local and seasonal produce. The first one will be my friend, neighbor and member of my community garden Genevieve Brazelton.  She writes the fantastic blog On Becoming a Housewife, check it out. Here is her contribution to From the Ground Up, enjoy:


I grew up with a backyard garden. Some of my fondest memories are of picking raspberries for my morning cereal or eating sun warmed cherry tomatoes wrapped in basil. However it wasn’t until about 3 years ago, in my mid-30s, that I finally started growing food for myself.

I had just moved in with my boyfriend, now husband, and we had this great back deck with 8 hours of sun in one of San Francisco’s warmest neighborhoods. I am a tomato fanatic so we started with three tomato plants. It was a successful first crop and we were hooked.

The next summer we were planning our wedding so we ended up a little behind the ball on getting things started, but we decided to step it up anyway and added two 2×3 foot containers to the back deck in addition to our three tomato plants. After some sage advice from a few friends and local garden experts we put in scarlet runner beans, carrots, radishes, and lettuces. The tomatoes got hit hard with aphids and mold, some years are just that way. The runner beans never took off, nor did the carrots or the radishes. The lettuce however was bountiful enough to keep us in salads for the summer and inspired us to try a fall garden. We also started thinking about what we could do with more space.

San Francisco has a bounty of community gardens, but we were realistic and knew that if it were too hard to get to we’d never make it work. So we inquired with the only one that fit our criteria. The wait list was long and I had a hard time even getting in touch with the organizers, but fate and the word of a good friend transpired to get us a plot this past summer.

Since taking over the plot in late June my husband and I have more than doubled our gardening knowledge. We did some serious soil prep with fertilizer and compost only to quickly realize that we made the soil so hospitable every weed seed that had been lying dormant came to life. Some of our first planting was choked out, but we did get it under control and learned to identify many of the local weeds. We also now know if we ever do that again we need to let the garden sit for 2-3 weeks so that all the weeds can sprout and be tilled under before planting your intended crop.

The extreme weed experience also led us to mulch the garden, something I would have thought overkill in the past. However, it’s been a godsend especially because we laid a drip system under the mulch. Now not only do we hardly have any weeding to do, we also don’t have to water as often and as the mulch breaks down we’ll be feeding the soil. For busy city dwellers, knowing the garden can go an extra day or two here and there without our attention is great.

Now we’ve got close to 65 square feet of garden space between our back deck and the community plot. We’ve learned a lot about what grows well both in our neighborhood and even in the respective spaces. Carrots and radishes hardly did a thing on our deck but were big and full of flavor at the plot. We’re already excitedly planning a winter garden and figuring out how we can maximize the space we have for an even bigger bounty this coming summer. The satisfaction of eating food you’ve grown yourself can’t be beat and when you’re a city dweller there’s a tinge of triumph to everything you harvest.

Genevieve Brazelton On Becoming a Housewife

Genevieve Brazelton in her GardenGarden Plot

Where we are at this fine fall

October 24, 2012
Happy Fall!  The last few months have brought much progress to the multi-layered project that is From the Ground Up.  We have been participating in the Bay Area Video Coalition Mediamaker Fellowship.  This has been a great experience and an honor to work with BAVC and such talented filmmakers. Through this program we have re-structured the main movie to work better for the type of screenings we have in mind, come up with a great plan for the future of the project and ideas for interactive media.  All very exciting! We have been editing like mad and nearly have a rough cut of the main movie which we will be continuing to edit, add animations, archival footage, music and other finishing touches. Very soon we will be releasing shorts of footage that is not in the main film, but that we think really need to be seen.  These shorts will be with inspiring people who are starting CSAs, training youth for green jobs, and with some of the original victory gardeners.  We will also be having a series of guest bloggers sharing their experiences starting gardens and cooking fresh local produce.  Make sure you like us on Facebook, follow us on twitter and subscribe to the blog to get announcements of new podcasts and blog posts. To keep all this work moving forward we need to raise money to make it happen in a timely manner.  We will be having seedling sales, a costume/garage sale (in San Francisco) and crowdfunding on IndieGoGo, which is similar  to Kickstarter.


We love to have seedling sales, they give us face to face time with local gardeners and a chance to talk in depth about why we are making this movie. We grow the seedlings ourselves and try to have as many heirloom and open pollinated varieties as possible.  We just recently had two great sales, one at Esperanza Gardens in the Mission District of San Francisco, thanks to the generous Lisa Lee Benjamin and another at Kezar Gardens at the HANC Recycling Center and Native Plant Nursery. This garden is facing eviction, please go to their blog to learn more and how to help them fight it.

The costume/garage sale is inspired by a local filmmaker and we loved the idea – more face time and with people that may or may not be gardeners and our neighbors. Since it is the weekend before Halloween we decided to get people to donate costumes.  We will have seedlings to sell and treats from the garden.

If you are not familiar with crowdfunding – “Crowdfunding is asking a crowd of people to donate a defined amount of money for a specific cause or project in exchange for various rewards.”  We have some fantastic rewards!  We decided to go with IndieGoGo because they allow us to offer tax deductions for donations since we are fiscally sponsored by the San Francisco film society.  This is a great opportunity for you to help us get this project out in the world so it can inspire people to start gardens of their own.  Other things you can do to help is to tell as many people as you can about this project and encourage them to join us and/or donate to the film.

Thank you for your support,
Kristi Stephens Adams

Willow Rosenthal & Novella Carpenter @ 18 Reasons

March 20, 2012

Last month I attended an evening of conversation with Willow Rosenthal & Novella Carpenter @ 18 Reasons in San Francisco.  Willow and Novella have recently published an incredibly useful book “The Essential Urban Farmer”. The book has a ton of information, diagrams, resources and covers what you need to get started and keep growing food in cities. Here is a a great review from Edible East Bay.

Olivia Maki of 18 Reasons, our host for the evening, was very friendly and really kept the conversation moving, not an easy job when people are sometimes a bit shy and are eating. The food and wine were delicious. I had the pleasure of sitting near Naya Peterson of Fire Escape Farms and  Blair Randall of Garden for the Environment (who was a co-host of this event), it was great to hear about their future plans.  We were seated around a rectangle of narrow tables with Willow at one end and Novella with her 9 week old daughter at the other.  The topics of conversations were varied and inspired by attendees questions as well as from the book. The first discussion was about what inspired them to write this book, it seems that people are always asking them how to get started in urban farming and how did they know if something they were doing was allowed.  Both of them answered that they didn’t know if it was allowed, but they did it anyway. This led to other topics like class issues – like that a middle class white lady is probably not going to be arrested for breaking an urban agriculture related law, but someone who is living closer to the edge may not want to take the risk. The cycles of urban farming over the decades – the original farms just outside of most cities, victory gardens, the permacuture movement of the 70’s, and now the DIY culture that has kept this movement growing steadily over the last 10 or so years. And about how there need to be more ways for gardeners to come together to share information, resources, and use the strength of numbers to get more urban farming friendly laws passes, like rural farmers do with grange halls.  After  dessert Willow and Novella signed copies of the book for sale from Patrick of the Green Arcade bookstore.  All in all, it was an informative and fun evening, a big thank you to everyone involved.

Happy Almost Spring & Good News

February 18, 2012

I wanted to let you know about the progress of our documentary “From the Ground Up”.  We have some great news – I will be in the 2012 cohort of the Bay Are Video Coalition Media Makers Fellows.  This is a great honor and I am excited to work with BAVC and the other filmmakers over the next year.  What this means for “From the Ground Up” is that we will have support and access to people, facilities and resources that will assist us finishing the doc and creating exciting new media.  For more info about the Media Makers Fellowship check out:

We are looking into other ways to interact with the gardening communities and we would love your input, we are wondering:

What gardening resources do you use?
Do you use mobile or on-line gardening apps?
Do you belong to any on-line gardening communities?
What are your favorite garden blogs?
What does not exist that you would like to see as far as information, guides and communities?

Send us an email with your thoughts:

As for finishing the main documentary  “From the Ground Up” things are moving along; we are currently editing the rough cut, creating animations, preparing shorts that will be posted on line, and gearing up for an eventful spring and summer.  The American Community Garden Association is having its annual conference in San Francisco this year and we are looking for meeting many gardeners from around the country.  Also, we will be having seedling sales again this spring and summer to raise money for the documentary.  If you unable attend a seedling sale there will be other opportunities to participate and help us get these uplifting stories out there.


Thank you for your support,

Kristi Stephens Adams
From the Ground Up