Over Grow the System is an ongoing media project started by filmmaker Syd Woodward that documents and participates in the emerging sustainable farming movement of his native British Columbia, Canada. Through captivating photography, video, and music, Over Grow the System provides a riveting artistic perspective on dozens of small-scale local farmers, their agricultural practices, interpersonal relationships, and ways of life. Food Tank had the opportunity to speak to Syd Woodward about one of the most exciting movements in food today.
FT: What is Over Grow the System working on now?
SW: This spring, we set off on a new project called Sea to Seed. The idea was to take some of our favorite artists and musicians and embark on a sailing trip through a group of islands between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Colombia. There are interesting farm communities here building strong local food systems. It’s inspiring when you consider the reality that most consumers, even in British Columbia, are still getting food from much farther away.
FT: How did Over Grow the System get started?
SW: I founded the Grounded media project to tell the story of musicians and artists engaged in social activism, but the focus was really on the art. Then a few years ago, I moved out to the White Crow Farm where I found a lot of young people bringing together the urban feel of music and art while reconnecting with the land through farming. That really inspired me to shift my film work into documenting the sustainable farming movement.
FT: Talk a little about the social aspect of this project.
SW: The Sea to Seed tour was the first time we went from being just online to actually getting out and working with the public and farming communities. I started to notice how strong the community was, and how much the local island came out to support a farmer. It’s really beautiful, and I’m seeing that on all these islands and even in cities. In Vancouver for example, there’s an amazing urban farm scene and people are supporting it. There’s a mass awakening happening right now; just seeing the amount of support and the people is really inspiring, and I want to keep that conversation going. That’s one thing that’s giving me hope right now.
FT: What are some challenges facing Over Grow the System?
SW: It’s important to be aware of the negative side, of how much of the world is right now. A lot of people have this weight on them from not being connected to how their food grows. If you are going to become a conscious human being, the first thing you do is weep because it’s bad, but then what do you do after that? You can turn off, or you can let that inspire you to act. I want to use that as energy to inspire action in the world.
FT: What do you have planned?
SW: The vision is to do a yearly project that brings new musicians together to build stronger connections in these communities. During the fall of next year, we want to put on a weekend harvest festival where all the farmers, supporters, and people we work with can come together. Farmers will be able to show off their wares. It will take the whole project to the next level.