“It’s terrific, you were inspiring without being sentimental or romantic… and hard headed about the challenges. Really great job.” – Michael Pollan
The Greenhorns documentary film, completed after almost 3 years in production, explores the lives of America’s young farming community – its spirit, practices, and needs. It is the filmmaker’s hope that by broadcasting the stories and voices of these young farmers, we can build the case for those considering a career in agriculture – to embolden them, to entice them, and to recruit them into farming. The production of The Greenhorns is part of our grassroots nonprofit’s larger campaign for agricultural reform.
You can now purchase our DVD from Collective Eye Films for community screenings, institutional use, and home movie nights!
If you would like to watch it but have limited funds, many local libraries have been more than happy to buy a copy. Try yours!
Al Attara, Metropolitan Exchange, Green Business Incubator Les Blank, Flower Films
Amigo Bob, Ecological Farming Association, Eco-Farm
Ignacio Chapela, UC Berkeley, Microbial Ecology
Jim Churchill, Ojai Pixie Tangerines/Film Festival
Mariana Coyne, Living on the Wedge, Slow Food
Claire Cummings, Journalist, Environmental Lawyer
Brock Dolman, Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, WATER Institute
Joan Dye Gussow, This Organic Life, Environmental Nutritionist
Karen Heisler, Pie Ranch + Mission Pie
Kendra Johnson, California FarmLink
Sandor E. Katz, The Revolution will not be Microwaved, Wild Fermentation
Craig McNamera, Center for Land Based Learning + Sierra Orchards
Ken Meter, Crossroads Resource Center
Denise O’Brien, Women’s Food and Agriculture network, Iowa
Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, The Botany of Desire, UC Berkeley School of Journalism
Bonnie Powell, The Ethicurian.com
Megan Shaw Preligner, Open source librarian, Prelinger Library
Judith Redmond, Full Belly Farm
Tom Stearns, High Mowing Seeds
Reverend Billy Talen + Sister Savitri D, Spiritual Advisors
Alice Waters, Chez Panisse
Aaron Woolf, King Corn
Almost two years after its founding in a basement in Berkeley, California, The Greenhorns has matured from an idea for a recruitment film into a widespread national community. We are now happily rooted on my first commercial farm, Smithereen, on rented land in the Hudson Valley of New York. In the autumn of 2007 we officially began seeking out mentors and characters for a film, traveling the country with a confident intuitive sense of an emerging movement of young farmers and a series of borrowed cameras and generous cinematographers. On the road for these 2 years we have found that the movement has emerged–scrappy, resourceful, adaptive young Americans have brought the products and the spirit of this movement into the sun, and we are proud to be the reporters of its successes and a hub for a much-needed centralized network. This is America, and it takes all kinds.
All over the country we have met enterprising, hopeful greenhorns: descendents of family dairies, punky inner-city gardeners, homesteaders, radical Christians, anarcho-activists, ex-suburbanites, graduates with biological science degrees, ex-teachers, ex-poets, ex-cowboys. The sons of traditional farmers, the daughters of migrant farm workers, the accidental agriculturalists and the deliberate career switchers all mark our maps. In foothills, warehouses, back valleys, and vacant lots they are popping up as we reclaim human spaces in the broad lazerland of Monoculture that has engulfed rural America. This Obama spring finds the young farmers as unlikely poster children of a new zeitgeist. Aptly so. Ranging around the country in my filmmaking, I have met hundreds of new and aspiring young farmers. I have found them a powerful, proud and wily subculture. I have found them to be charismatic icons of change, patriots of place, sensible and sensitive stewards of land and resources. They are the creators of a retrofit future, and just in time. We now have the political change. We have reawakened our democratic will and discovered a dilation in the realms of possibility. We must take advantage of the moment. Yes! We are farming! We are hopeful. The produce of local agriculture is in hot demand with the most loyal of customers. CSAs all have waiting lists, and healthy mothers determined to have healthy babies are fiercely devoted to nutrition and the farmers who provide it.
Popular literature and sensibility is gravitating to our message of health for our selves, our soil, our social fabric. I have learned that it is possible for us to succeed, to prosper; meanwhile the market continues to grow! Farming in America is simultaneously a privilege and a service. And no, it is not easy. Young farmers in America face tremendous structural obstacles. They seek access to land, capital, education, and business training. They seek cultural support and open minded consumers. They need reasonable paths to acquiring mechanical equipment and other infrastructures of medium-scale agriculture. These are missing components of our culture and our laws, and they are deeply missed by young farmers who are forced to improvise and invent new institutions to serve their new needs and new marketplace. The movement is for real. Its practitioners are skilled, savvy and ferocious. They are assets to their community and guarantors of our future. They are shovel-ready, shovel-sharpened. Relishers of flavor, recipients of the generosity of photosynthesis. Hell bent on recovering from the age of convenience. They are young farmers with young muscles wisely applying their lives to the problems at hand. But it takes the applied passions of thousands, hundreds of thousands of courageous actions to repair a nation. It will take a radical shift in the structure of the Farm Bill, in the literacy of eaters, in the shape of commerce and land management. It will take the support of you all.
If you are thinking of farming, do! If you cannot join us, connect with your stomachs and please buy and savor and share our products! If your kid wants to farm, tell them its OK! Help them open a savings account or lend startup capital to a young farmer in your town. Please collaborate. Please facilitate. Please donate. Please join us or rally on your own to ensure the success of AmericaÍs young farmers.
– Severine von Tscharner Fleming May 20, 2009 Smithereen Farm, Hudson River Valley, NY