Small farms around the world may be thriving, but farmers, particularly those just starting out, face a lot of challenges. Accessing affordable land is a BIG one, along with finding start-up capital, and competing with traditional producers in the market. But so are things like gaining access to locally adapted seeds, finding soil that hasn’t been too heavily contaminated by industry, and gaining rights to water.
This week, we’ll look at films that explore some of these challenges, as well as some of the creative ways people are finding to address them. These include alternative models of land ownership, seed saving projects, watershed and soil restoration and enlightened policies enacted by local governments to support these kinds of solutions.
The Land for Our Food – The Land for our Food takes us on a fascinating (and informative) journey with Gavin Bridger, a grower from Farnham Local Food in England, as he travels across Europe in his quest to find a way to access land for agroecological farming. (34.41 min)
Living Simply in a Tiny Off-Grid Cabin – A New Zealand couple tells of leaving the city, where they had a large house and high-paying jobs, for simple living and a work trade situation in the countryside. The arrangement has allowed them to access land and live their dream for almost no money. (6.42 min)
Our Land Series: Dry Land – Continuing on the theme of water, this film tells the story of Brad Lancaster, a man who has become something of a hero in the field of permaculture for his work “planting the rain” — creating abundant, regenerative food systems in the world’s most arid desert and urban settings. (8.33 min)
Conservation Generation – This beautifully shot film outlines some of the challenges faced by young farmers starting out today in the arid Southwestern USA — including increasing temperatures, decreasing rainfall, the loss of land to urban development, and the ongoing push to commoditize our water. (10.25 min)
Modern farming puts India’s biodiversity at risk – This Al Jazeera news report from Kerala, India describes the way that chemical agriculture, and government subsidies for industrial farmers, present serious challenges to those who hope to make a living on traditional diverse farms. (2.26 min)
Our Land Series: Adaptive Seeds – This film tells the story of two young farmers growing locally adapted seeds in the Pacific Northwestern USA, and doing their part to reverse the staggering loss of biodiversity in food crops that has taken place over the past hundred years. (5.09 min)
Our Land Series: The Solution to Pollution is Life – Expanding urban farming is key if we want to create resilient, sustainable food systems. Sadly, a lot of urban soil has been contaminated by industry. This film tells the story of the Soil Kitchen, a “collaborative art project,” funded by the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and partnered with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which provides residents with free soil testing. (10.52 min)
Riverhill Farm: A Succession Story – Farmers Alan Haight and Jo McProud were looking to retire after years of working Riverhill Farm in Nevada City, California, but they didn’t want to lose their land to development. With the help of California FarmLink, they were able to come up with a lease agreement that allowed a young farmer, Antonio Garza, to take over their operation — and keep the Riverhill spirit alive for another generation. (7.40 min)