Film Festival to screen “Farmageddon”


The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival begins its Winter Film Series this Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Chilmark Community Center with a night full of activities for families and the screening of the film “Farmageddon.”

The film features armed agents of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, who take possession of an Ohio family-run, member co-op, holding 10 children and 2 adults in a room for over 6 hours. The house is ransacked, personal food and food from the co-op is taken, as well as cell phones. Forty to 50 armed agents take possession of a 12-year-old private membership food club in Venice, California for five and a half hours and take thousands of dollars worth of food not on the search warrant. Tens of thousands of dollars worth of livestock, mostly sheep, are taken from a small farmer in Vermont and killed on suspicion of mad cow disease, which sheep have never been known to have.

“Farmageddon — The Unseen War on American Family Farms” is a passionate film that has taken on multiple goals. It attempts to uncover the truth behind numerous raids on “small, family farms that were providing safe, healthy foods to their communities and were forced to stop, sometimes through violent action by agents of misguided government bureaucracies.”

It attempts to come to terms with the reasons behind the raids, which are not always clearly explained by the government. No government employee would agree to be interviewed for this film, but a wide range of knowledgeable people did. And the film attempts to suggest solutions to a problem that is characterized as the result of laws enacted to regulate and control some of the issues of large farming and factory agri-business, the sometimes horrific conditions of factory farming, while ignoring — and, worse, sometimes destroying — small farms. The film clearly makes the point that governing laws vary from state to state. The uneven application of both state and federal law has created an air of uncertainty and often a burden of bureaucratic paperwork and regulations that can smother a small farmer.

Filmmaker Kristin Canty had a son who was hyper-allergic. In her quest to find relief for him, she discovered that when she changed his diet to include raw milk from grass-fed cows, his allergies and asthma disappeared. She then began to focus on adding healthier foods to her family’s diet and avoiding factory processed foods that were, in her words, “tainted by antibiotics, steroids, and genetically modified grains.”

Her search led her to small organic farms and a food co-op that purchased from them. Then she heard about the armed raid that occurred at a food co-op in Ohio and then about more raids and closures of organic farms and co-ops in other areas around the country. She decided to tell the farmers’ side of the story.

Ms. Canty’s use of interviews with a wide range of people, the accused and threatened, experts and consumers, is interspersed with film of small farm, sustainable growing methods, and clips of raids and on-site investigations. It is an interesting and sometimes frightening film that should be seen by anyone who eats.

The series begins this Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Chilmark Community Center. Like their Summer Film Series, the Winter Film Series will involve activities for families and for adults. The first part of the evening begins at 5 pm with food and activities for families, followed by a screening of a collection of short films for kids. As a lead-in to the evening’s main film at 6:30, there will be a community dinner with local farm food. Then the screening of “Farmageddon will begin at 7:30, followed by a discussion with local farmers. The screening is co-presented by Slow Food Martha’s Vineyard.

The community dinner will be cooked by Chris Fischer of Beetlebung Farm. The menu will be: baked pasta with Beetlebung Farm ground beef and tomato sauce, roasted and pureed Morning Glory Farm squash with sage, sautéed Beetlebung Farm kale with garlic and lemon, and a chopped salad with greens from Beetlebung and Morning Glory Farms.

There will also be some options for kids: pasta with olive oil, with cheese on side and steamed Beetlebung Farm carrots.

Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival Winter Film Series this Saturday, Dec. 3 at the Chilmark Community Center. The prices for the kids portion of the evening is free for MVFF members and $5 for non-members. The screening of “Farmageddon” is $6 for MVFF or Slow Food members and $12 for non-members. The dinner is $10 for adults and $5 for kids.