Most Americans know little about where their food comes from and even less about the lives of farming families who plant, water, feed, herd, harvest and deliver that food to market. "Five Farms: Stories From American Farm Families" confronts that information gap head on.
This remarkable series of five one-hour documentaries uses compelling first-person storytelling to personalize the lives and work of five farm families in New England, the South, the Midwest, the Southwest and West Coast. By tracking these families for a full year-long cycle of the seasons, "Five Farms" reveals the resiliency of the American farmer and documents what they do to help feed the nation, while being caretakers and conservationists of the lands and resources they use. "Five Farms" profiles people who work hard and make considerable sacrifices, but who can also flourish, and for whom the benefits — including a deep understanding of the land they work — are rich.
Spring planting on the family farm is the time of the annual gamble — on the alchemies of nature, the health of livestock, on future fall harvest market prices. "Planting" introduces five families who are among the one-percent of Americans who live and work on farms: the Griffieon family of Iowa ; the Pecusas of Hopi, Arizona ; the Mains of northern California ; the Wise family of North Carolina ; and the Hagers, western Massachusetts dairy farmers.
They are families who make their living tilling the soil, planting seeds and caring for livestock, working to produce food for American tables. "Five Farms" follows these families in their orchards, fields and barns to reveal the challenges and rewards that keep them working the land.
Ben Adler (field producer/California) first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool—though not necessarily by choice. He made his radio debut (and blatant early mistakes) at Northwestern University’s student radio station, WNUR. There, he spent much of his time broadcasting sports; an internship at Chicago Public Radio gradually helped bring him over from the “dark side.” Adler's dream remains broadcasting Major League Baseball games, but he regretfully acknowledges he’s probably better at what he does now. After three years covering the Monterey Bay Area for NPR™ member station KAZU, Adler has recently joined Capital Public Radio in Sacramento, California. He will report on the Main family in Capay, California.
Rob Dillard (field producer/Iowa) joined what is now Iowa Public Radio in January 2001. He hosted the local portions of Morning Edition™ until December 2006, and he has served as a general assignment reporter based in Des Moines since then. In a varied career, he has produced talk shows for a commercial radio station, edited a weekly business newspaper, handled media relations for a medical school and a small, private liberal arts college, operated a movie theater that specialized in foreign and independent films, and toured the U.S. and Canada with a theater troupe. He will report on the Griffieon family in Ankeny, Iowa.
Camille Lacapa (field producer/Hopi Reservation, Arizona) is the former manager of WOJB-FM, a community radio station licensed to the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe in northwestern Wisconsin. She has produced national radio programs for American Indian Radio on Satellite, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the Koahnic Broadcast Corporation. Lacapa has produced and hosted a number of talk shows, including Native America Calling™ , and assisted in the broadcast of the National Museum of the American Indian Inaugural Powwow on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Her radio experience includes serving on the National Federation of Community Broadcasters board from 1992 to 1997. She will report on the Pecusa family in Bacavi, Arizona.
Susannah Lee (field producer/Massachusetts) is a writer and a producer for both film and radio. Her radio stories have aired on All Things Considered™ , Living on Earth™ , WFCR’s Morning Edition™ , Monitor Radio™ , and She Got Game™ . She has worked for Monitor Radio’s Weekend Edition™ , and Special Series Reports. She co-produced Voices Heard™ , which received American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT) and Clarion Awards for Best Documentary. Lee was a Fulbright Hayes Fellow to Portugal. She will report on the Hager family in Colrain, Massachusetts.
John Biewen (series producer and field producer/North Carolina) has reported on social, cultural, and economic issues from across the United States and in Europe, Japan, and India. He was a correspondent and producer with American RadioWorks, the national documentary unit of American Public Media, from the unit’s founding in 1998 until 2006. In 1997–98 he covered the Rocky Mountain West as a staff reporter for NPR News™ . Biewen began his career in the 1980s, covering agriculture and rural issues for Minnesota Public Radio. In 1990, he co-produced Season of Discontent, a Unity Award–winning documentary on the lives of Hispanic farmworkers who migrated between south Texas and northwestern Minnesota, which was broadcast on Marketplace™ . As an NPR reporter in the West, Biewen reported on ranching and land use issues from Montana to New Mexico. In 2001 he co-produced the American RadioWorks special The Global Politics of Food. Biewen has harvested onions with farmworkers near Crystal City, Texas, and processed corn for four summers at a Green Giant plant in southern Minnesota. He is currently a producer, teacher, and director of the audio program at the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) at Duke University.
Wesley Horner (executive producer) has served as executive producer for Black Radio with Lou Rawls; Remembering Slavery; Jazz Singers with Al Jarreau; Mississippi: River of Song with Ani Di Franco; Folk Masters from the Barns of Wolf Trap; Memphis: Rock ‘n’ Soul with Cybill Shepherd; Jazz Smithsonian with Lena Horne; and NPR’s™ daily classical music program Performance Today™ . He served as producer for pilot programs for the weekly series From the Top and as consultant for development of the From the Top spin-off series for PBS, and executive producer for the HDTV PBS television special Piano Grand starring Billy Joel. In 2006 Horner was producer for NPR’s™ comprehensive coverage of Mozart’s 250th birthday from Salzburg, Austria, including weeklong live origination of Performance Today™ and segments of Morning Edition™ and Talk of the Nation™ . He has produced live music performance broadcast series from Symphony Hall and Jordan Hall in Boston; the Salzburg Festival in Salzburg, Austria; the Bayreuth Festival; and the Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s Day Concert.
'FIVE FARMS: STORIES FROM AMERICAN FARM FAMILIES'