By Steve Moore
NORWAY—One-third of the farms in Maine will change hands in the near future as farmers grow too old to continue farming. If communities want to see farming continue into the next generation, how these farms are supported during this transitional time is critical.
These are some of the issues raised by a new film, “Growing Local,” that will be screened on Friday, Nov. 7, at 6 p.m. at the Center for an Ecology-Based Economy on 443 Main St. in Norway. Admission is free.
Bridget Besaw, the director and executive producer of the film, began her career as a photographer for the Bangor Daily News and, after a decade as a freelance magazine photographer, became more intrigued by film making as a natural progression in her life as a visual artist. She says the three short films that make up “Growing Local” are her first effort at being a real filmmaker.
“I wanted to raise more awareness to my fellow Mainers about the fact that the local food movement and farming is not a sure thing and needs more support to survive as a local movement,” Besaw says.
The three farms featured in the film were selected from a list provided by Maine Farmland Trust and come together to tell the broader story of the local food movement and its challenges, she says. The three represent the different aspects of those challenges and bring the viewer more awareness of the struggles local farmers face. When asked who she thought her audience was as she made the film, Besaw said she looked inside herself.
“I had myself in mind, which is to say we talked a lot about whether we were preaching to the choir. People like us already buy local. I didn’t realize I need to take that extra step and to ask where my food comes from at local restaurants and markets,” Besaw says, adding that consumers need to “go the extra mile and not buy food that isn’t local. [The local food movement] is not nearly as mainstream as I thought, people like me are going to have to make a little more effort to support it.”
She hopes viewers will keep the issue of where their food comes from in the forefront of their mind.
“I just have to think about this a little more when I’m at the store,” Besaw says, adding that there were “so many rewarding things” about making the film. “I feel thankful and honored to be able to give a little attention to people who we really don’t think about. I feel fulfilled to be able to put the spotlight on them for a moment so people can think about them—here’s who makes your food and give them a voice.”
Following the film screening there will be a panel discussion featuring local area farmers including Heidi and Kaleb Durgin, of Durgin Dairy in Norway, Dottie Bell from Thunder Hill Farm in Waterford and Doreen and John Simmons from Stone Heart Farm in South Paris. Also in attendance will be Mike Cullinan from C&C Farm in Norway and Pat Verrill from Harvest Moon Produce in Norway.
The film made in partnership with Maine Farmland Trust, a statewide nonprofit organization that works to protect farmland, support farmers and promote the future of farming.