There are so many new things offered at Iowa State Fair 2015. Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation has been privileged to be able to offer a new activity for visitors. FARMLAND the movie has been playing at 1 p.m. in the Maytag Family Theater Building every day for all fair goers free of charge and will continue through the duration of the fair.
Most Americans have not had the opportunity to visit a farm or ranch and just as many have never had conversations with farmers or ranchers that make their living growing crops and raising animals to feed our hungry, growing nation. Farmland allows viewers to take a step onto the farm and experience just a small piece of what farmers deal with every day. The movie is a documentary about six young farm families and their personal experiences of farming today. Immediately after the movie, there is a brief Q & A for viewers with Iowa farmers.
I wanted to share some of the photos, comments, questions and most importantly viewpoints of farmers from all over Iowa.
After a week of offering this venue to fair goers, we have averaged 175 – 200 people at each viewing. Captivated by what was shared in the movie, the audience was quick to ask questions of the farmers immediately following the 44 minute film. Over the course of 15 minutes, viewers asked things about local farms in Iowa like “When we hear about a bad market for soybeans…What does that really mean?” “Could one of you explain more about the futures market?”
One of my favorite panel discussion comments was something shared by a farmer panel member. He said “I told my grown sons – If you don’t have a passion and love for farming in your heart (and he pointed to his own heart) – then you won’t make it. You gotta love what you are doing!”
The second was when a farmer who was not a part of our panel sparked a conversation with a couple who did not come from a farm, but were curious about agriculture. As the auditorium cleared, the three stayed for more than 30 minutes talking. The farmer was sharing his personal experiences and the couple was asking lots of questions.
The Farmland movie had some excellent quotes. A few of my favorites were “What does the public want to know, what do they need to know? How can we help you? We’re not hiding anything, but what do you want to know?” from Ryan Veldhuizen. From Brad Bellah “You can’t just wake up one day and say, ‘okay I’ve got a business degree and I like working in my yard, so I’m going to be a farmer.’ Or, ‘you know what, I’ve got three dogs and I’m really good with animals, I’m going to be a rancher. It doesn’t work that way. It takes a lot of time and experience. I’m only 26 years old, but for 20 years now I’ve been working cattle.” The farmers’ honesty leads to great discussions after the viewing.
Watching reactions has always intrigued me. Seeing interests be sparked and questions being asked has been such an amazing piece of my Fair 2015. Teachers are asking about using the movie in their classes to teach STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) concepts. Hearing the laughter and seeing the tears of those watching the real life events of these farm families in Farmland has been a blessing for me. As each day’s viewing of the movie comes to a close I see the newfound interest and the compassion of people whose lives are much like those of the farmers in Farmland.