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Mace & Crown | March 26, 2017

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Work Release Screens Film About Local Planting

Work Release Screens Film About Local Planting
Ben Maxie
Staff Writer

Art and nature collided on Thursday, March 17 at Work Release in Norfolk with the screening of “Branches.” The local plant-inspired art film was presented by plantPOP.

The film was presented in three parts and followed people who make plant-inspired art, cultivate home recreational gardens and own plant-based businesses. “Branches” followed the stories of several botanists and artists including a suburban farmer, local beekeepers and the founder of the Plant Doctor–a local open source plant monitoring company.

The Plant Doctor is a non-profit that designs and teaches people to make and read Wi-Fi operated smartphone sensors to help in growing plants. They have several variations of sensors, from a sensor tube attached to a normal flowerpot to a self-regulating grow box. Akin Yildiz, the founder of the company, came to Hampton Roads from Turkey for college.

“My only limit is my imagination,”  Yildiz said in the film.

After their son was diagnosed with asthma, one family in the film began gardening and raising bees to grow honey. They were among the first to start beekeeping after Norfolk legalized the practice.

The documentary also included Cleo Hicks, a retired navy veteran, who turned his suburban backyard in Virginia Beach into a farm. He has packed his plot to the teeth with tomatoes, soybeans and other edible plants.

“When you garden, you’re not just bringing in plants, you’re bringing in pollinators and a whole ecosystem of spiders, bees and such,” Sam Jones, an ODU Grounds Terf Crew member, said.

Growing your own food is easy as well. “We’re growing kale around the Webb Center,” Jones said. “We don’t really do anything to it except water it occasionally, but it seems to be fine.”