INTERVIEW WITH THE PRODUCER,
How did you become interested in the subject of the film?
Don Roberts, the main subject of the film, was a friend, he had been the media librarian for the Hennepin County Library. When he retired, after several other ventures, he and his wife, Joni Cash, started Elsie's farm in late 1990's. I became a subscriber, and I made the film, initially, to bring more subscribers to the farm.
As I looked at the footage we had shot, I was drawn to make something more of the film. All my films say something about land, and our relationship to it. People understand now, what was only intuited in the 70's, that there is a relationship between the ecologies of farming and the inner ecologies of the human microbiome. To me, this IS the avant garde of our time.
The film isn't a how-to story about farming, nor is it a polemic against industrial agriculture. It's really about the people who do this work and how they cope with the ups and downs of living out that lifestyle. How did you come to that kind of focus?
Many people today are searching for a lifestyle that is sustainable, healthy, but also rich in human relationships and connections. To me, Elsie's Farm was an expression of those hopes and dreams, a magical place.
Don was an idealist, full of ideas and theories. Initially I thought of Joni as the realist, the boots-on-the-ground person, the one who makes things happen. Of course as I got to know each of them, they subverted any such easy interpretation (laughs).
Our society does not support change easily. In these kinds of ventures, there is always resistance. There are always problems to be worked out, there's always a shortage of informed consumers to get behind those who take the risks, the personal risks, to make the change. I was fascinated by people who would take those risks. Don refers to himself in the film, as Don Quixote. We need these people, the crazy ones, the truth tellers, the heroes who refuse to give up even in the face of impossible odds.
I made the film both to increase awareness of the CSA movement, but to explore some of the deeper issues. The biggest question that I set out with, at the beginning of the film, was, what is our relationship to work? What we need to do to make money is not necessarily what we want to do to contribute, in some way, to the kind of world that we want to live in. How can we bring those things back together?
In the end, the film argues that social change is like growing a garden. It goes in cycles. Good ideas flower and die. What we do today, the work we do, may seem futile, but in the end, we are simply here to plant seeds. Elsie's Farm left behind many dedicated young people who carry Don and Joni's dream into the future. They risked everything on the farm, but they didn't lose anything. What they gained was a community, a legacy, and the satisfaction of knowing that they'd made a difference.
TO CONTACT THE PRODUCER, ORDER A DVD, A PRESS KIT, ORDER PREVIOUS FILMS, OR OTHER INFORMATION;
RED EYE VIDEO