In recent years, the media has sensationalized farming to the extent that consumer purchasing is influenced by perspectives that are not representative of America’s farms (of which 90% are family farms).
But, on Thursday, May 1st there was a shift in the agricultural conversation when 6 young farmers shared their stories in the documentary Farmland, a film directed by Award Winner James Moll and funded by the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance.
The 80 minute film broadcasts the lives of 6 farmers and ranchers who take over their family businesses as 4th, 5th and 6th generation farmers. Well… all except Margaret Schlass. Margaret is an anomaly in the farming industry. Without a family history in farming, she took the giant leap to start a 1st generation farm (which she so appropriately named One Woman Farm.)
“There she is in all her glory,” exclaimed Margaret’s mother who so proudly presented her daughter to community members who regularly purchase Margaret’s produce, but this was an introduction that echoed across the entirety of the film. When the film opens we meet David Loberg and his mother scouring their fields for a sign of sprouting seeds, along with poultry farmer Leighton Cooley with “an open door policy” and a truckload of baby chicks. Each farmer toting personalized messages that they are “normal” families shopping at the Gap, picnicking on summer days, and that ultimately, their livelihood is contingent upon good stewardship of their farmland.
Beyond the introductions, the film attempts to touch on the major issues surrounding animal cruelty, conventional versus organic farming, GMO’s and antibiotics. And while viewers aren’t given finite answers regarding the “right” choice and “direction” for modern farming, they are left with a perspective that farmers have a mutual respect for one another and a common goal to leave behind “good” soil for the next generation.
While there is certainly a lot more to be explained about modern farming, the film does a good job of demystifying aspects of the industry by opening up the gates and parading viewers through the barns and fields of America. Finally, there’s a valiant attempt to include the farmer’s perspective so that authentic conversations about farm-to-fork can begin!
But don’t take my world for it. Check out the film for yourself!
If you are a Chicagoan, the film will be airing at the River East AMC Theatre throughout the week. For all others, you can check out the trailer and movie showing locations here.
It’s time you get educated about whose growing your food!
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