Part of my coverage of the 10th annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival: January 13-15, 2012, in Nevada City, CA.
They were expecting to be doctors, accountants, lawyers, chemists, physicists, historians, anthropologists. Instead, the twenty some, twenty-something farmers featured in Grow! took to the land. The film tells their story.
Shot exclusively in Georgia, Grow! profiles a dozen organic farms and the farmers that own or manage them. Some farmers began as share-croppers, others teamed-up with family or friends who owned the land. The intergenerational relatiohship, though is a constant: the older generation has the land, the younger generation has the stamina to farm it.
Of particular note is the 1/2 acre urban farm in Atlanta: Oakleaf Mennonite Farm. Past John Wierwille explains that the land used to be lawn. He saw the irony and, with his parish, asked God to send him a farmer. Shortly after, Tim and Krista were on the scene, tilling up the grass and planting okra, carrots, onions, and many other vegetables in its stead. Krista realizes that providing true food justice must go beyond the soup kitchen. “Our food issues are related to injustice,” she says, and for her, growing the food for the homeless and hungry is the best way to manufacture that justice.
Joe from Love is Love Farm in rural Georgia came to farming after years of traveling and experimenting with his career and self image. “Farming has given me the chance to be the anarchist I’ve always yearned to be and the capitalist I’ve always run away from,” he says. He appreciates that “knowledge doesn’t have to be an intellectual property right. We share–with everybody.”
The farmers keep afloat with a balance of CSA, farmer’s markets, and restaurant clients. The days are long, humid, and challenging. Elliot arrived at Hope Grows farm in Georgia to help manage and work the farm with his friend Arianne. The farm was in a state of disrepair when he arrived, and Arianne was overwhelmed. “We’re gonna make one thing work. Then we’ll make another thing work,” he spoke of their process, adding with a grin: “No health insurance, but lots of fun!” “Part of the Zen of farming is expanding your own patience and your own grace in response to adversity,” Arianne explains.
Grow! features stunning cinematography, some aerial, and explores, as the best farming films do, hundreds of shades of vibrant green. This Anthony-Masterson film weaves the stories of these dozen farms and their farmers together in a gorgeous, edible tapestry. Grow! screens Friday and Sunday at Wild and Scenic. The filmmakers will be on hand.