There probably isn’t a more important profession than farmer. The world simply wouldn’t function without the food they provide. Very few people understand the determination and hard work involved in running a farm, but with the documentary To Make A Farm, director Steven Suderman introduces us to five young farmers who have the drive necessary to make their small farms successful. Although none of the farmers have any experience, they’ve each decided that it will be worth all the sweat and effort.
What makes this documentary so interesting is the fact that it’s not really about farming at all. What truly drives the film are the reasons why these people have chosen this path in life. To Make A Farm has more to do with these people finding their place in the world than it does with their actual farms. Viewers may see each person struggles to maintain their farm, dealing with various livestock diseases, problems with water, and the simple worry that they may not produce enough food, but this really isn’t the main focus.
The first couple, Leslie and Jeff, met while taking a farmer training program. After six years, they’ve finally bought their own piece of land. They face challenges not only from the land, but from their business model as well. People place orders at the beginning of the year and the couple plant the crops after. This places a large amount of pressure to deliver not only delicious and fresh food, but the right amount as well. When they find a deficiency in the soil, their plans to run a small farm may be coming to an end.
Further along in the process are Tarrah and Nathan. They raise a variety of livestock as well as growing vegetables. While Leslie and Jeff turned to farming because of their preference for small farms instead of huge industry, Tarrah and Nathan seem to find a much more personal connection to their land. The image we may have of the organic farmer comes closest with Tarrah and Nathan, but it’s not all peace and love for the couple. Concerns about disease spreading through their stock of sheep, as well as the couple possibly taking on more than they can handle, threatens their plans of a self-sufficient farm.
The last farmer is Wes. He certainly has the hardest battle in front of him. With his purchase of just under two acres of land, Wes must figure out how to grow his vegetables with almost no equipment at all. He lives in a tent beside his land, struggling to figure out how everything needs to run. Even the most basic task of bringing water to his crops is a huge challenge for him, forcing Wes to come up with some innovative solutions. His reason for starting a farm has a lot to do with finding a home, somewhere that he can call his own. Traveling for almost 10 years, Wes has finally decided that it was time to find his place, and a farm was the answer.
Don’t dismiss To Make A Farm based on the idea that it’s a documentary about growing crops. The film is really about five hard working, caring, and determined people finding their way, and place, in life. To Make A Farm opens Friday, July 7, 2012 at Projection Booth.
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