Ten years ago, just before a 17-hour flight to Indonesia, I stood in front of a giant wall of magazines searching for something worthwhile to read. Glistening nether regions, outrageous headlines, sugar-coated treats and self-help tips dominated my field of view. Stuffed in the back, however, in a negative space that drew me towards it, was a slim black and white periodical with no advertising called The Sun.
In it was an interview with author and farmer Wendell Berry and what would become the impetus for our new short film, Harvesting Liberty. Mr. Berry explained clearly that industrialized agriculture has inflicted “a kind of cultural amnesia” on our society. In other words, the chasm that has been created between the people raising our food, and us (the ones eating it) is doing more damage than we are capable of quantifying.
It is safe to say that Mr. Berry and his cohorts (Jackson, Shiva, Snyder to name just a few) have changed how I see my place in this world. They have challenged me to, as Snyder said, “Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there.”
I now view the deliberate participation in healthy food-and-fiber systems as engaged activism that requires less fighting against and more working for—same goals, by the way, just less bureaucracy.
In our new short film, Harvesting Liberty, we had the amazing opportunity to document the work and vision of Michael Lewis and Rebecca Burgess, two folks who have dedicated their lives to reestablishing meaningful connections to their communities and the natural world through agriculture.
I owe a deep debt of gratitude to Rebecca Burgess for inviting us on her journey and for introducing us to the forward-thinking visionary redneck Michael Lewis. I’d also like to thank the Lewis family for welcoming us (and our cameras) into their home in the midst of raising a family, farming and finishing college.