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Beyond Organic Film Premier


The Center for Ecoliteracy and the Food Systems Project invite Bay Area residents to attend an evening premier and reception for the documentary film of Michael Ableman's urban farm, Beyond Organic: The Vision of Fairview Gardens. This free, community event will take place on Wednesday, October 25 beginning at 7pm.
Beyond Organic chronicles Ableman's efforts to preserve his 12-acre organic farm in the face of rapid suburban development. This moving, half-hour color film has received critical acclaim around the country and recently won first place at the Santa Cruz Film Festival. Beyond Organic is narrated by actress Meryl Streep and produced by John de Graaf, maker of such highly popular films as Affluenza and Circle of Plenty. The film will air nationally on PBS in the spring of 2001.
The premier is the first event in a public education Speakers Series, organized by the Center for Ecoliteracy and funded, in part, by a generous grant from the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation, to support changing community attitudes regarding food, farms, education and the ecology of human health.
"Beyond Organic will appeal to anyone who cares about land, food, and healthful living," said Ableman, author of From the Good Earth and On Good Land. "The documentary shows what a small group of committed people can do, even against powerful development pressures, to preserve and create regional agriculture. While the story is about one small community farm in Goleta, California, it is really about every small farm and every community."
In addition to the viewing of Beyond Organic, Ableman will speak about the importance of community agriculture and the role of food and agriculture in public education. A reception for Ableman and de Graaf precedes the showing of the film and both will be available to answer questions at the end of the evening.
The Speaker Series is designed to broaden awareness and encourage discussion on topics such as genetically modified foods, sustainable agriculture, and organic farming. It coincides with an ongoing effort to improve the quality of food served to students throughout the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD). This effort is being led by The Food Systems Project, a project of the Center for Ecoliteracy, which has been designated one of four pilot projects in the nation under the USDA Secretary's Initiative, "Linking Farms to Schools."
The educational mission of the school district, as stated in the BUSD Food Policy adopted in August of 1999, is "to improve the health of the entire community by teaching students and families ways to establish and maintain life-long healthy eating habits." BUSD Superintendent Jack McLaughlin will speak prior to Ableman about why organic foods are part of Berkeley's Food Policy, the many innovations that are currently going on throughout the district, and how community members can participate.
"We want to create a positive, student-centered food culture where we serve the healthiest food possible," said McLaughlin. "In order to do that, we need the support of the entire community including teachers, parents, and farmers. We need people thinking about important issues." The Speakers Series is part of a coordinated effort to generate informed community support.
In addition to Ableman and McLaughlin, speakers will also include Fritjof Capra and Zenobia Barlow, founding directors of the Center for Ecoliteracy. Drawing upon the foundation's efforts working to promote education for sustainability, they will talk about efforts within Berkeley school communities using food systems as a context for systemic understanding.
"The Center for Ecoliteracy supported the making of Beyond Organic as an effective way to reach other communities who are addressing the same interrelated issues as those we are addressing in the Bay Area-the loss of sustainable farms on the edge of urban sprawl, childhood obesity, and school food lacking in nutritional quality," said Barlow.
Although the event is free, donations will be accepted for "Linking Farms to Schools," a BUSD fund devoted to supporting school field trips to local farms that provide fresh organic produce to the district food service. Co-sponsors of the event include the Center for Urban Agriculture, Chez Panisse Foundation, Earth Island Institute, and Edible Schoolyard.

WHAT: Bay Area premier of Beyond Organic: The Vision of Fairview Gardens
DATE: Wednesday, October 25
TIME: Reception begins at 7:00pm; Program begins at 7:30pm
PLACE: Martin Luther King Middle School auditorium
1871 Rose Street, Berkeley, California
See directions below.

For more information email info@ecoliteracy.org.

The Center for Ecoliteracy (CEL) is a public foundation dedicated to fostering experience and understanding of the natural world. CEL's grant-making strategies focus on educational communities engaged in food and water projects based in the particular geography of the school campus and surrounding landscapes. CEL actively supports education for building sustainable communities.
The Food Systems Project uses a whole systems approach to the study of food to link Berkeley Unified School District students, their families, their community, and local family farms. Through their work in gardens, in preparing meals, and in the classroom, students gain an understanding of the way in which their own eating and food choices impact the environment.


Directions to Martin Luther King, Jr. auditorium

Exit on University Avenue, and drive east until you reach Martin Luther King, Jr. Way (you'll pass San Pablo Avenue and Sacramento Street). Turn left on MLK Way and drive through three stoplights until you reach Rose Street. Turn left on Rose Street and drive two blocks to Grant Street. The school is on the corner of Rose and Grant. Parking is available on the east side of the school. Whether you enter the school from Rose Street or Grant Street, walk in through the open doors and the auditorium is on your right-hand side.

For more detailed directions call Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School at 510-644-6280.

Tamara Shulman
Aquatic Outreach Institute
(510) 231-5655

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