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Video Review: Strong Roots, Fragile Farms

  • Subject: [cg] Video Review: Strong Roots, Fragile Farms
  • From: Alliums garlicgrower@earthlink.net
  • Date: Wed, 16 Oct 2002 11:05:59 -0400

Hi, Folks!

Here's my review of the recent documentary "Strong Roots, Fragile Farms."  You can guess why I was asked to review it! ;-D  I retain copywrite -- if you want to publish it elsewhere, let me know.  Someday I'll get rich doing this, but it probably won't be this year! ;-)


Dorene Pasekoff, Coordinator
St. John's United Church of Christ Organic Community Garden

A mission of
St. John's United Church of Christ, 315 Gay Street, Phoenixville, PA  19460


Strong Roots, Fragile Farms Video,  Running time 57:46, Available for $19.95 (plus s & h) from United Church Resources  (UCCR) at 800-537-3394 or 230 Sheldon Road, Berea, OH 44017

“Strong Roots, Fragile Farms” the made-for-television documentary produced by the United Church of Christ and hosted by Willie Nelson, shows us the human faces of family farmers driven to near-extinction by the globalization of agriculture.  Sprinkled with just enough statistics to back up its points, the documentary profiles 4 different, but equally endangered types of family farmers:  an Iowa family growing soybeans and corn on 1,000 heavily mechanized acres, a North Carolina family growing traditional African-American crops on small acreage with mostly hand tools for the local restaurants and grower’s market, a Filipino family growing traditional rice varieties with a local farmers’ cooperative to improve growing techniques and market share and Mexican subsistence farmers who no longer have a market for their crops.

Because prices are set by the handful of multi-national corporations that process and transport food, none of these family farmers are able to sell their crops at a price that covers their costs, let alone make a profit.  The documentary leisurely meanders through these families’ lives as they try to remain in farming and keep their families financially solvent.  Willie Nelson also provides a short overview on why NAFTA and the last two Farm Bills have made things worse both for farm families and the small town economies that depend on them.  By the end of the video, we care about these people and are inspired to make social change.

The documentary was offered to ABC affiliates to air at their discretion starting on October 6, 2002.  Here in the Philadelphia region, our local ABC affiliate aired the program at 5:30 am on October 13
th (with fantastic public service announcements instead of commercials  an experience in itself!).  If you missed this program on your own station, it is easy enough to order the video from the United Church of Christ and download all the resources (study guide, fact sheet, poster, etc) at http://www.ucc.org/fragilefarms/index.html to set up your own discussion group about how globalization is affecting agriculture.   This video, especially when combined with the study guide and fact sheet, is an excellent way to gently introduce these issues to folks who have never considered them before.

Reviewed by Dorene Pasekoff, Coordinator
St. John’s United Church of Christ Organic Community Garden
Phoenixville, PA

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