The farming bug.
Just when it seems that local food could not get any more chic, along comes an inspiring film that casts small-scale, organic farmers as nothing less than environmental heroes. The Greenhorns (thegreenhorns.net) is a 50-minute documentary that shows a series of passionate agrarians--all in their twenties and thirties--sowing seeds, raising hogs and delivering Community Supported Agriculture boxes. Never has the farming profession looked so sexy.
The film is produced and directed by Severine von Tscharner Fleming, an activist who lives and farms in New York's Hudson Valley. Fleming also serves as narrator, deploying the frank, occasionally droll humor characteristic of public radio show This American Life.
Says one California farmer named Chris Velez: "For my dad to hear that his son wants to go back and be a dirt farmer--he was totally supportive but I think he would have preferred to see me become an insurance salesman."
But the rolling green vistas of farm after farm belie a serious subtext. Fleming and her fellow farmers want viewers to join them in lobbying Congress and Uncle Sam for agricultural reform. As narrator, she notes that 400 million acres of farmland will change hands in the next two decades. These young farmers want to return to the land, but they need government loans to start up. Meanwhile, millions of Americans lack access to fresh food.
The Greenhorns is not being distributed through conventional cinemas. I saw it in a hip Chicago bar. ("How many of you intend to become farmers?" the emcee asked. Half of the people in the audience raised their hands.) The film will also appear at progressive and foodthemed events around the country throughout the year. For the "organization" price of $150, one can buy a copy.