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From the city to the farm to the big screen

To Make A Farm, a new feature-length documentary film exploring the lives of five new farmers with non-farming backgrounds, will show in Ontario in early March, with screenings in Guelph, Walkerton and Campbellford. Filmmaker Steve Suderman and the operators of three featured farms — two of which are located near the Grey County community of Neustadt — will be in attendance.

Stepping into the limelight to help promote the film and connect with those in attendance at the screenings will be Tarrah Young and Nathan Carey of Green Being Farm (also highlighted in this edition of Regional Country News for recently achieving certification as a “Bee Friendly” farm); and Leslie Moskovits and Jeff Boesch of nearby Cedar Down Farm — both of which are Neustadt-area community shared agriculture operations producing a variety of vegetables, meats and other produce.

The other featured farmer in the film is from Minnedosa, Manitoba,

Promotional material for To Make A Farm, named one of the 10 most popular Canadian films at the Vancouver International Film Festival in 2011, says the film asks: “What might the future of local food and farming look like?” Suderman, who grew up on a farm in western Canada and later taught courses on documentary and experimental film at the University of Regina, examines his own family history in farming while, according to the promo material, “discovering a vibrant community of new farmers with urban backgrounds.”

“To Make A Farm depicts the struggles and triumphs of a season on a fledgling farm through the eyes of five young people who have decided to become small-scale farmers, despite having no backgrounds in this demanding profession.”

Upcoming screening events for the film are: Jubilee Hall in Walkerton, 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 3; and two screenings at the Bookshelf Cinema in Guelph, at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 5 and 9 p.m. on Monday, March 5.

“I thought it would be impossible for someone to take up farming who didn’t grow up as a farmer,” Suderman says in a news release about the film. “But once I met these farmers and started filming, I was inspired by their passion and hard work.

“I think there are skeptics out there who think the new farmer movement is driven by romanticism, and perhaps there’s an element of that. But in the film you see the struggles and setbacks, and the need to make it work as a business.”

To Make A Farm was described as “exceptionally hopeful” by critics at the Vancouver International Film Festival, where the film had its world premiere in 2011 and was held over for an additional screening after attracting sell-out crowds. Since then, the film has continued to play at festivals across Canada. Last month it made its US premiere at the Big Sky Documentary Festival in Montana, and later will play at the Environmental Film Festival in Washington DC, one of the world’s largest environmental film festivals.

“The filmmaker and farmers hope to draw attention to the lives of local farmers and the realities of small-scale agriculture,” stated the promotional material.

The southern Ontario connections for the film aren’t confined solely to the portrayal of the two Neustadt-area farms. While the director, producer and editor are all based in Saskatchewan, the music for To Make A Farm was recorded at Chalmers United Church in Guelph.

More information or to preview clips of the film, visit http://tomakeafarm.ca.

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