This year’s Hamptons International Film Festival will screen a documentary about, by and for residents of the East End who value preserving land and ensuring there will be farmers to till it. On Sunday, October 7, as the HIFF celebrates 20 years, Growing Farmers, a documentary short, will debut.
The film, directed by surf documentarian, acclaimed photographer and life-long Watermill resident, Michael Halsband, tells the story of East End farmers who have participated in Peconic Land Trust’s Farms for the Future program. An incubator for eager first-time farmers, the initiative provides knowledge and guidance, as well as the land and necessary materials (deer fencing, irrigation, equipment, etc.), to begin and maintain a new career path. The film centers on 20 farmers currently in the program. “By providing new farmers with affordable access to protected farmland, we are not only conserving an important resource, but also the business of farming.” says John v.H. Halsey, president of Peconic Land Trust. “The film inspires viewers to support both conservation and local food production. It furthers our mission to conserve Long Island’s working farms, natural lands, and heritage for our communities now and in the future.”
Producer Hilary Leff, childhood farmer turned lawyer turned pastry chef turned member of Quail Hill Farms turned vice chair of Peconic Land Trust, was inspired to make this film after talking with farmers who have been successful due to Farms for the Future. “I think more and more people have learned that when they can interact with the person who is growing their food it is not only enjoyable, but informative,” she says. “These new farmers are working so hard and creating such a bounty for the community, we should celebrate them, but also understand how much hard work goes into what they do.”
One of the farmers featured in the film, Katie Baldwin, a former Quail Hill Farms apprentice and a product of the trust’s program, now operates Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett with partner Amanda Merrow. Amber Waves, a nonprofit provides education as well as food. Farms for the Future, says Baldwin, helped her get there. “It’s remarkable that you can gain the skill set that you feel empowered enough to grow your own food on your own farm just after a short 10 months.” In the weeks prior to HIFF, the team behind Growing Farmers will show their film in local schools. “Many of these children will come from farming families. Others may have the interest themselves,” says Leff. “It’s local and relevant and important to share this with our younger generation. They could be our future farmers.” For more information on Farms for the Future visit www.peconiclandtrust.org. For more information on the HIFF and for tickets and schedules visit www.hamptonsfilmfest.org