HRC Doc Lab‘s research “Documenting the Sustainability of Localized Organic Farming” is an episodic documentary video and photo essay that will focus on the Yue Feng Island Organic Farm which is located in Kunshan. The documentary will investigate the sustainability of smart agriculture at the intersectionality of culture, linguistics, economics, ecology, and environmental studies. The documentary will consist of three parts: 1) the regional oral culture: the connection between traditional farming culture and the local Kunshan dialect, 2) the relationship between crop diversity and genetically modified food, and 3) sustainability in smart agriculture: how the farmers and administrators incorporate the idea of sustainability into production and operation.
- Associate Professor Chuanhui Gu – Faculty Advisor
- Assistant Professor Kaley Clements – Faculty Advisor
- Yufan Gao – Student Researcher
The project’s Student Researcher, Yufan Gao, shares the research in her own words:
Could you tell us about this project?
This project is an episodic documentary video and photo essay that will focus on the Yue Feng Island Organic Farm which is located in Kunshan. The documentary will investigate the sustainability of smart agriculture at the intersectionality of culture, linguistics, economics, ecology, and environmental studies. The current focus is on the conservation of old rice varieties.
What inspired you to start this project?
I’ve been interested in organic agriculture, and I’m always looking for a way to combine my interests in environmental science and media arts. Based on the scientific research I have with Professor Gu, I work with Professor Kaley Clements to produce a documentary film on the Yue Feng Island Organic Farm. The purpose of the documentary is to explore sustainability in organic farms from a humanistic perspective. Besides, previous research on Kunbei Folk Music with Yulai Yang, a recent DKU graduate, made me realize the charm of regional oral culture. Random talks with staffs in Yue Feng Island Organic Farm enriched my knowledge in seed diversity. I would love to combine all my interests to conduct a project.
Who will you be involving in your project?
Prof. Kaley Clements of course, he would be the primary faculty advisor and mentor in this project. Prof. Chuanhui Gu would also be an advisor, providing some scientific support in the documenting process. Students in DKU would also be involved. Now I’ve had 3 potential partners, from the class of 2023, 2024, and 2025 respectively.
What are you hoping to gain from this research?
I hope to explore the different dimensions of sustainable organic agriculture research with a humanistic narrative perspective to further understand the cultivation and growth process of organic crops such as rice. Meanwhile, as a local, some research such as local oral culture in the field of agriculture can also provide me with a deeper understanding of the cultural connotations of this land that is not barren.
Kaley Clements is the Co-Director of HRC’s Doc Lab and an Assistant Professor of Documentary and Digital Media Arts with expertise in documentary, filmmaking, photography, visual narratives, aural storytelling, and soundscape design. He received an MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts from Duke University. His research focuses on where social conflict, climate change, and the loss of diversification converge under the power structures of the globalizing economy. He has produced work in Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Mexico, Vietnam, and the US. His work has been screened internationally and he has curated film exhibitions and festivals in the Greater Shanghai Area.
Yufan Gao is from the Class of 2024 at Duke Kunshan University, majoring in Environmental Science with a track in Biogeochemistry. She is interested in the interdisciplinary study of media art and environmental science. Previous research on Kunbei Folk Music and guidance from Prof. Kaley Clements gave her rich experience in filming and editing. Based on scientific research on carbon footprint in smart agriculture, she is now working on a DocLab project concerning the sustainability of localized organic farming. The documentary will investigate the sustainability of smart agriculture at the intersectionality of culture, linguistics, economics, ecology, and environmental studies. The current focus is on the conservation of old rice varieties and seed diversity.
Dr. Gu graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in the United States with a major in Environmental Science. He completed a postdoctoral study at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Dr. Gu held faculty position in Appalachian State University and Beijing Normal University prior to joining DKU. Key areas of his research include pollutant transport and fate at the land-atmosphere and land-water interfaces, groundwater-surface water interaction and its impacts on nutrient cycles, the multiphase flow and reactive transport model in porous media. Current research projects include soil organic amendment by solid wastes and its ecological risk assessment, greenhouse gas emission from human-disturbed lands, sponge city and stormwater management, bio-geomorphic effects on tidal channel evolution, etc.