|First trip to a farm and yes I had to sit in the John Deere!|
I still remember that first trip to the farm where the directions were to turn left after 3 miles by the two silos. It's no surprise that us city girls got lost trying to follow these directions! And as you can see from the bottom picture, we forgot jackets so it was flannel shirts for everyone!
A few months ago, Arkansas Women Bloggers announced that the Arkansas Farm Bureau was hosting a special screening of the new documentary film Farmland. I quickly signed up to attend the screening and learn more about young farmers and the evolution of farming in America.
Farmland follows the story of six farmers and ranchers who cross a broad spectrum from first generation farmer to a multi-generation farmer. Less than 2% of Americans have a direct connection to agriculture except we all eat and consume the products of agriculture. You would think we all should feel connected to our food sources but outside of certain hot topics around things like organics and GMO we don't tend to own our role in the food supply chain. The goal behind this film is to strengthen the relationship between the consumer and agriculture producers.
Some of the themes that I thought really resonated in the film are that all farmers and ranchers have struggles and challenges every day to provide a good supply of food for us and the world. We rely on farmers to provide us with a healthy and abundant food supply and that is a trust that farmers take very seriously. Becoming a farmer isn't something that happens overnight, it takes time and experience. There is a huge skill set in being a good farmer from knowing when/what/how to plant to having the skills to harvest for peak freshness and taste. There is a reason the subtitle to this film is called The Evolution of a Tradition. It really does follow the evolution of farming.
My favorite farmers profiled in the film were Margaret Schlass - the one woman farm supplying a Community Supported Agriculture membership program and Sutton Morgan - the son of a farmer who branched out into organic farming. Margaret seems to be a one woman phenom! She is a hard worker who is building her business and helping her community. Sutton on the other hand is a 4th generation farmer who relies on the mentorship from his parents in building his organic business.
The film made me think about my own connection to the food that I eat. The timing of the screening was perfect since our local farmers market has just kicked off. I'm excited to shop for fresh, locally grown produce. The thing that I will take from the film is that I should engage in conversation with the farmers and ask questions about the produce that they have grown and be more than just a consumer.
One surprising discovery about the film was that director James Moll had previously directed one of my favorite running documentary films called Running the Sahara. Farmland film was made with the support of the US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance. The USFRA works to coordinate dialogue for Americans on how food is grown and raised. You can learn more about Farmland at www.farmlandfilm.com. If you have the chance to view the film, I recommend that you do. It is a great look into the challenges, struggles, and triumphs that young farmers are facing in bringing us a sustainable and healthy food supply.