ROOTED producers have followed Fresh Future Farm’s story for more than two years | Provided

Branching Out

Fresh Future Farm co-founder Germaine Jenkins hopes a new documentary detailing her mission to provide sustenance for Charleston food deserts can be a blueprint for other urban communities. ROOTED profiles Jenkins’ mission to purchase Fresh Future Farm’s 0.8-acre plot of North Charleston land and her goal of eventually reaching a wider network in the Lowcountry. 

“Just imagine how many people can take control of food justice for them and their families by watching this documentary,” Jenkins said. “My hope is that we can demystify what liberation looks like. We as communities that have been pushed to the margins have lots of needs. Through the documentary, folks can see it in real time.” 

ROOTED director and Charleston resident Bridget Besaw met Jenkins at a 2017 event, and one week later, she asked if she could document her work on the farm. Filming began shortly after in January 2018. 

ROOTED director Bridget Besaw (right) and producer/co-director Adetoro Makinde | Provided

“That initially was meant to be a very short film, which turned into a short film, which turned into a feature,” Besaw said, recalling initial filming. “I had a camera in one hand, and she handed me a hacksaw and we started hacking down banana trees. What struck me immediately is I had never seen anything like (the farm), certainly not in an urban setting.” 

According to the documentary’s outline, “While Germaine’s battle for Fresh Future Farm sets the stage for the film, at its core, ROOTED is the evolution of a leader.” 

“(Viewers) can expect to learn about food justice and food apartheid — the definition of those two terms,” Besaw said. “They’ll learn a little bit about the history of Black farming and food justice in this country — or lack of food justice in this country. All of this they learn through what we call a profile of Germaine.” 

Commenting on Jenkins’ humor and ability to entertain viewers, Besaw and co-director and producer Adetoro Makinde said they are targeting the “new foodie” demographic interested in sustainable farming. They also want to engage activists and policymakers. 

“There need to be legislative changes,” Jenkins said. “I hope people who watch this story understand the importance of ownership of land from the outset.” 

Land ownership is a focal point in ROOTED, as Jenkins’ well-documented effort to purchase Fresh Future Farm’s land continues. A July 2019 Kickstarter project raised more than $72,000 to buy the property, but progress has been hard to come by since then.

In February, North Charleston City Council voted to subdivide the property Jenkins has been leasing since 2014, clearing a path for her to acquire the Success Street plot from the city. But, Fresh Future Farm and city officials have not had recent discussions regarding the matter, Jenkins told the City Paper on March 15. 

“From what I read, I think there’s been some movement around the city selling a portion of where the basketball court goes to the school to Metanoia, and then at some point in the future, we’re supposed to hear from the city,” Jenkins said. “We got it third hand, so we’ll see.” 

The ROOTED team is currently raising initial funds to help pay for the film’s completion. A Kickstarter campaign surpassed its $50,000 goal on March 23, money that will help producers complete a first cut for submission to film festivals by September 2021. But, ROOTED will need nearly half a million dollars to “support the additional elements needed to make a final polished film,” Makinde said.

ROOTED is just part of Jenkins’ big plans for the future, and her lofty aspirations stem from the desire to help underserved communities in need. 

“The more communities that are engaged, inspired and empowered this way, the better economies of scale that we can work towards to make it even more affordable for folks to do the work. We’re a template, and we hope to open source the lessons that we’ve learned with other communities.”