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Rolling out the Red Carpet for Farmland

Senior Reader
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Dim the lights, settle down with bag of popcorn and watch how farming is done.


Last week my Farmer and I attended the North Carolina premiere of Farmland.  Which meant I got to walk my first red carpet.  Okay, it's probably the only red carpet I will ever walk and the only paparazzi that wanted my picture was my Farmer, but it was still a red carpet. 


red carpet.jpg


The documentary follows six young farmers and ranchers through a season.  I'd seen the trailer several times but still was surprised by the film.  I laughed, I cried (seriously, you need tissues), I learned something new, I was left wanting to know more.  You don't have to farm to appreciate this documentary.  If you eat food, this needs to be on your must-see list. 


Directed by Academy Award Winner James Moll (in the picture with me and my Farmer below), who attended the premiere, the film featured six farmers from across the country and from a variety of farms.  There is the first generation female farmer from Pennsylvania who sells locally.  There is the fourth generation farmer from California who started his own organic farm.  The poultry farmer from Georgia.  A cattle farmer from Texas, where they work cattle from horseback. 


Ryan Veldhuizen, a hog farmer from Minnesota, also attended the NC premiere. Of course I had to get my picture with him and talk farming.  His largest field is 310 acres.  I can't imagine having one field that size.  Ryan couldn't imagine working in a field that was only 10 acres. Just because we farm doesn't mean we know how to grow every crop or raise every type of livestock, so it's always interesting to see how other farms do things.  Raising soybeans and corn in North Carolina is different than raising the same crops in Minnesota. 


me and Ryan.jpg moll.jpg


The film may be about farmers and ranchers but the actual business of agriculture is a supporting actor.  The farmers themselves are the main attraction.  From the opening scene featuring David and his mother in their Nebraska field looking for seeds that haven't sprouted, the film is about people and families who happen to farm.  


In 90 minutes the documentary covered organic and conventional farming, large and small farms, first generation and multi-generational farming, GMOs (genetically modified organisms), animal welfare, public perception, taxes, estate planning, the cost of farmland, the weather..... Did I mention it was only 90 minutes?  And it featured six farmers?  It could easily be a mini-series. 


What was most refreshing was this documentary had no agenda. As Mr. Moll said during the discussion afterwards, there was no script.  There is no voice-over.  It is the farmers voice.  It is the story of what these farmers do every day-the good, bad and ugly.   One rancher talked about how they are regular people- his wife shops at GAP and he drinks beer.  Another talked about waiting four hours for the new version of a computer program in his tractor to upload so he could go to field.  Another mentioned the skill it takes to grow and harvest food.  Yet another discussed challenges he faced taking over the farming responsibilities after his father's death (tissues required).  


I do wish there had been time in the film to talk about the farming itself.  There were some scenes I caught myself whispering to my Farmer, "What are they doing?".  If I'm wondering what's going on, I know other people, farmers included, will be. 


If you haven't seen the documentary yet, visit the website at, on Facebook at, or on twitter at .    You can watch the trailer, meet the farmers and the director and see what theaters are showing the film. The premiere was hosted by Feed The Dialogue NC ( and BASF. 


Farmland will be available on DVD later this summer.  If only those in agriculture see it, then we are preaching to the choir.  Everyone needs to see this film...before the final curtain falls on agricutlure.


Have you seen it yet?  How will you share this film with a non-agriculture audience and answer those whispered questions?