A Documentary to Celebrate and Support Young Farmers
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: There’s a shift underway in American agriculture, a shift as surprising as it is necessary. With the average age of the farmer close to 60 years old, a new generation is called upon with the challenging and virtuous task of feeding America. Our documentary, Farmers For America, will outline problems like access to land, lack of knowledge, low financial pay- and chronicle solutions-based stories of young people who have set up economically and ecologically sustainable farms.
The Documentary: For the last century, families have been leaving rural towns, moving into suburbs and cities. Mechanization has made it possible for one person to farm hundreds, even thousands of acres. This mechanization has lessened the workload of the individual, and yet, in so doing has led to the erosion of many rural towns. As families leave, Main Street slowly closes- barbershops, hardware stores, and schools- shut down. Concurrently, suburbs and cities have been filling up, and more and more jobs are being found behind a desk, in front of a screen. For many years, our culture moved away from agriculture, food becoming a race for the cheapest, consumed alone in cars from drive-thru windows. In the past decade a movement has taken root, as farmers markets have sprouted up in cities, suburbs and small towns across the U.S. People have begun to see value in agricultural work, and some have left financially well-paying jobs to farm. The challenges are many- and yet some have decided to strike out into the unknown. Farmers For America is the story of this most unlikely group of people, a generation redefining the meaning of wealth.
The documentary covers a range of issues faced by new and beginning farmers, providing stories of young people who have set up successful farms. We’ll hear from a new generation of military veterans, like Kelly Carlisle of the Farmer Veteran Coalition, who after returning from military service decided to start a youth-based educational farm, Acta Non Verba, in Oakland. We’ll hear from national leaders in sustainable agriculture, like Debra Eschmeyer, Executive Director of Let’s Move! and Lindsey Lusher-Shute, Executive Director of the National Young Farmers Coalition, and who together with other young farmer and food advocates are building a coalition of young people with the agricultural and political savvy necessary to make systemic changes to our shifting food system. We’ll follow agricultural programs at leading programs like those at UMASS and Evergreen State College, as well as new programs like the California Farm Academy and St. Catharine’s in central Kentucky. We’ll hear about innovative new models of management and production from perennial agricultural stars Daniel Salatin and his father, Joel.
The resulting documentary will be a vibrant mosaic of stories from young farmers taking on the biggest cultural and economic hurdles faced in agriculture. Farmers For America will celebrate the healing and healthy work of growing food.