Dear Friends, Family & Supporters,
Tomorrow is the deadline for my Kickstarter campaign and, most definitely, I will not make the goal I set, despite your generous pledges & support. Being on the road, meeting farmers, and documenting their stories have been my sole focus and this has kept me from being as effective as I had hoped on the marketing side of things. As a result, I've been unable to pitch and shoot simultaneously and to use social media as effectively as I had hoped to garner the support of people who do not know me, but respect the project. I have gotten some support from people who do not want to use the Internet to send money; if this appeals, you can support me directly if you would like. Whatever you have pledged or want to contribute helps greatly and I am forever appreciative.
I just tabulated the miles: 3,514 so far. Truth is, the original estimate of 5,000 miles is way short of the actual miles it will take. I am in northern Missouri at the moment, surveying the terrible impact of the flooding here on farmers and the land--and it is still going on after 2 1/2 months! I will travel through Kansas over two days to Colorado where I will spend some time traveling north and west, then on to Ackerly, TX, where the distance from A to B is so great, it taxes the imagination (and seat-time, be assured). Then, hopefully a quick sojourn to Norman, OK, then.....
This is a big country and I have only flown over it before; this time I'm on the ground and it's bigger than I could have ever conceived. We'll see what it takes to get home. In the meantime, the adventure continues. Again, thank you for your pledges and show of support. I am ever, ever grateful.
On the 21st day on the road I am in Spencer, IA, harvesting prairie grass seeds on a special combine. It's been 10 years since Dwight & Bev Rutter appeared in my first documentary As We Sow. Since those days when it looked like they were not going to make it as farmers, they have built Prairie Flower into a thriving business that sells native prairie grasses and flowers, which most certainly would have disappeared under the sea of GMO corn and soybeans that has inundated Iowa.
Today is day 10 of this journey and I am headed from rural Illinois to Chicago with farmer Tom Arnold, who sells his naturally raised beef, pork, chicken, turkey and lamb at farmers' market in the city. Just to keep you up to date, I started out on August 10 in Saugerties, NY, and have now travelled through Pennsylvania, Ohio, a slice of West Virginia, Indiana, Dubuque, IA, and Illinois, where I am right now. I have visited farms--tiny (1/4 acre), small & medium, and huge (19,000 acres of crops feeding 30,000 cows), a slaughter house, and two restaurants serving locally sourced food, including Tom Arnolds naturally raised pork. I've also eaten my share of junk food, which is as ubiquitous as the GMO corn and soybeans, and just about the only thing available along the highway--in short, we eat a lot more junk than we eat the good food produced by the farmers I've visited. But more on that on another update.
Thanks again for your generosity & support. I am just 15 days from meeting my Kickstarter deadline, so if you can continue to spread the word about this project, I will be forever grateful.
The photos below are of Fair Oaks Dairy in Indiana where 30,000 cows are milked, 500 cows per hour, yielding 250,000 gallons of milk per day. This is not what you'd call a family farm, although they say it is. Besides producing tons of milk to the marketplace via Dean Foods & Krogers, they have set up this dairy as a tourist attraction. These cows are on a carrousel where they are milked; they make this trek from their holding pens three times a day and do not spend any time grazing on pasture. In fact, they don't know what a pasture is or even what outside is, as they have been confined since birth.
The Aielo family live in Glasco, New York, where they grow organic vegetables, particularly Italian greens that they sell at the Saugerties Farmers Market. They do this intensive growing on 1/4 acres of land! They are the first farmers I visited and the smallest in size but not in heart and talent. They are true farmers.
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Pledge $10 or moreYou selected
My deepest thanks, access to project updates, and your name listed on the Farmlandia website Supporter page.
Pledge $25 or moreYou selected
For $25 or more, the official Farmlandia poster, designed by Woodstock artist, Tina Bromberg, and a DVD of As We Sow, a documentary short by Jan Weber, and your name listed on the Farmlandia website Supporter page.
Pledge $50 or moreYou selected
For $50 or more, the Farmlandia t-shirt designed by Woodstock artist, Tina Bromberg, and screened by About Time Boutique in Brooklyn, NY, and the official Farmlandia poster and DVD of As We Sow, and your name listed on the Farmlandia website Supporter page.
Pledge $100 or moreYou selected
For $100 or more, a signed pre-release DVD of the completed film and an 8X10 on-location production still; the Farmlandia poster and t-shirt, a DVD of As We Sow, and Special mention on the Farmlandia website and in the On the Road to Farmlandia blog.
Pledge $500 or moreYou selected
For a pledge of $500 or more, you will get a Special Thanks on-screen credit in the completed movie, the signed pre-release DVD of the completed film (so you can be among the first to see your name in the credits) and a signed photograph, matted and suitable for framing, by Dan Hemmelgarn as part of the project: F.A.R.M.: Food, Art, Revolution, Media--a Focus on Photography to Revitalize Farming and Strengthen Democracy. (These sepia tone photos are both gorgeous and moving.) T-shirt and poster, of course.
Pledge $1,000 or moreYou selected
For a pledge of $1,000 or more, a dinner for two at one of four restaurants, each located in a different region: New York, Des Moines, Austin, Oakland, and all noted for their passion for great food, well-sourced by the best local and regional producers. Brooklyn restaurant Saul, awarded a Michelin star, has donated this special dinner in support of my project. The others will be revealed as we go. (If these restaurants are not located near enough to you, I will do my best to find one that is.) You will also get a Special Thanks on-screen credit, a pre-release DVD of the completed film and the finished box set that will be created for distribution, and the signed art photo by Dan Hemmelgarn, T-shirts (tell me how many) and the poster, of course.
- (45 days)