Film Reveals Hidden Struggles of Neighboring Farms
'Forgotten Farms' Details Dairy Farmers' Fight for Survival in Age of Artisan Cheese
May 5, 2017
The Upper Valley Land Trust (UVLT) and the Co-op Food Stores are teaming up to screen the new movie Forgotten Farms at the Briggs Opera House in White River Junction on May 17 beginning with a 6:30 reception. The film looks at several New England family dairy farms and explores intersections of community, farm policy, land use and economics.
Forgotten Farms gives us a glimpse into the past and a vision for a future regional food system. The documentary shows the cultural divide between the new food movement and traditional farming, highlighting the need to examine differences, develop mutual understanding, and find common ground.
UVLT president Jeanie McIntyre, says the film is timely. New England has lost more than 80% of its dairy farms in the last fifty years. Today less than 120 New Hampshire farms are shipping milk into the commodity market. “In the Upper Valley, many consumers make a concerted effort to support local businesses and eat local food,” she said. But dairy is complicated.
Upper Valley milk may travel hundreds of miles to be processed before returning in cartons with out-of-state labels to be consumed by people who live only a few miles from the farm. So is it local? Is it possible for dairy farmers to participate in and benefit from the local foods renaissance? How can people support the farms that are such an important part of their communities and landscape?
“Dairy farms get very little attention, especially compared to the sort of boutique farms that are getting an overwhelming amount of attention in the press,” says producer Sarah Gardner, who is the associate director of Williams College’s Center for Environmental Studies. “Yet those farms produce a relatively small proportion of the food that we consume, while the traditional dairy farms produce almost all of the milk that’s consumed in New England.”
Partnering with Upper Valley Land Trust on this film “is a ideal opportunity for the Co-op,” said Ed Fox, General Manager of the Co-op Food Stores. “Our Co-op seeks to build a well-nourished community cultivated through cooperation. To be able to cooperate with UVLT on the showing of ‘Forgotten Farms’ is another way we can act as an educator on issues important to our members and customers.”
Following the screening, former NH Agriculture Commissioner and Plainfield dairy farmer Steve Taylor will moderate a panel discussion with local farmers, Gordon and Pat Richardson and John and Beth Haynes and Liz Bayne, farm business consultant with Yankee Farm Credit, and film director Dave Simonds. Advance tickets are $9 (available online at www.uvlt.org) and $10 at the door.
The Upper Valley Land Trust is a nonprofit land conservancy whose mission is to help individuals and communities protect the places they love. Founded in 1985, UVLT works in 45 Vermont and New Hampshire towns in the upper Connecticut River valley and has conserved over 500 properties encompassing 51,000 acres and including working dairy farms as well as fruit, vegetable and livestock operations. Most properties remain in private ownership; about two-dozen are owned by UVLT for conservation stewardship, recreation and educational purposes. UVLT also manages trails and campsites used by Connecticut River paddlers.
Sarah Gardner, Director, 'Forgotten Farms': [email protected]
David Simonds, Producer, 'Forgotten Farms': [email protected]
Jeanie McIntyre: [email protected], (603) 643-6626, ext 106
Allan Reetz: [email protected], 603-640-6503