Growing Hope

Rising actress Emma Bell has portrayed a skier trapped with two friends for a week on a chairlift in Frozen, a young woman trying to outsmart death in Final Destination 5 and, most recently, a police chief’s daughter in a pilot about a cult shot for NBC called Midnight Sun—a pilot which the network decided not to pick up. Lately, Bell is getting serious about a new role—coordinating an urban farming initiative called the Arthur Project in Los Angeles that was started by the socially minded clothing company Unite (uniteclothing.com).

2. E Magazine: Tell me about the mission of the Arthur Project.

Emma Bell: It’s a threefold initiative. One is the environmental aspect of turning an unused lot into a green space—a farm. Along with that [is] having the food that comes out of it being 100% organic. And we’re aiming toward lower income areas because it tends to be the people who are in poverty who don’t have a choice in what to eat and don’t know how to eat or what to eat. When you have only McDonald’s or fast food venues around you or dollar groceries, you’re not getting the best things available. So we want to target those areas. The third thing is using the people in the community, whether they are homeless or extremely poor, and teaching them a new trade which is how to grow food and be responsible for managing that food.

3. E: Has the Arthur Project moved beyond the conceptual stage?

E.B.: We have a site in Seattle—a farm. Once we have that up and running we can start folding in the other aspects: pulling in an income and giving it back to the community and having them take control of it.

4. E: Will you be working with any existing urban farms?

E.B.: We’d love to work with anyone, but I’m having a hard time finding places in L.A. Part of our campaigning is opening the door to other people, saying “if you know of any lots, if you know of any people, if you know of any organizations..” It’s not about being the only organization that does this.

5. E: Have you done any farming? Do you grow your own food?

E.B.: I grew up in rural New Jersey. We always had a vegetable garden and we always had fruit trees. My mom got very sick when I was young—she had leukemia. I was seven when she was diagnosed and she was given two years to live. She did a lot of things to make sure she did not die, but the biggest thing that impacted my life was changing her eating habits. No longer could we eat fast food, no longer could we have processed, pre-packaged food in our house. It was all organic, a lot of raw food. When I moved to L.A., food became a big passion for me. In L.A., there are tons of farmers markets, so there is that sensibility. When I say “quinoa” people know what it is. I don’t live in a place where I can have a garden, but I compost.

6. E: What are you doing in terms of acting projects?

E.B.: I’m auditioning for roles, and I’m also a writer. I want to write a series of books for tweens along the lines of Harry Potter. I’m really into writing fairy tales. I also have a screenplay writer partner.

Emma Bell is online at emmabell.net, and on Twitter at emmabell17.

BRITA BELLi is editor of E.