I went to view the movie as a blogger. Actually I got in line with a State Representative from South Arkansas and found myself trying to decide which hat I actually had on that evening. I wasn't sure if my invitation was because I'm in Leadership Arkansas with Director of Marketing for the Arkansas Farm Bureau. Or if I'm considered a community leaders. Or, if my world's have collided and if indeed my status as a member of the Arkansas Women Bloggers has truly made me one of the megaphones for the state. Whatever my role, and whatever my place, I was thankful to be among some of those who produce the food that arrives on my table, those who regulate how it gets there and the cute boys who were filling up the room probably because they've spent most of their life learning way more about agriculture than any of them would let on by their frat boy looks and southern boy tans.
So, I went with "consumer" brain and decided I would just let the evening educate me. And, it did not disappoint. I was educated on lots of things
- Farmers have a old world order type of fraternal bond. They just "get" each other. And, what I heard over and over was a respect for each other. Like most professions, there are different ways to get to the same end result. They may not all agree on the process, but they do know that they must internally respect each other for those externally to respect the profession. It kinda felt like the rule we have in my family. We can talk about each other and discuss our differences, but to the world we approach with the same front. Similar to the war room conversation at the office. Our differences challenge us, make us better and guide us to dream beyond today, but when we go out in the world, our message and our mission are the same. (thought was shared - we have to build our internal communication first, but if we spend too much time working on it, our external influences with dictate it for us)
- Farming is about the future. Both in the movie and in the post movie panel they talked about what they do today is about laying the foundation for the future. Much of the process they use is about adding to the soil and to their farms, things that will help them next year. But, more importantly, its about future farmers. They challenged each other to take the next generation and invite them into the process. Not just their children or grandchildren, but the children who live near them and might be interested in the profession. I loved hearing them talk about farming as a mentoring project.
- I was also reminded of the great role Mother Nature plays in the farming process. These folks can spend a whole season and loads of money getting the crop ready, but if its too hot, too rainy, too windy, too stormy, everything can change. And, its not just a line you heard in a movie, its the story the gentleman who opened the evening shared. Just that morning, he was trying to work his farm to get it ready ahead of the storms that were to come this past weekend. So much about their job depends on environment. Its not like the rest of us to go to and office, make some phone calls, send a few emails and drop by and make appointments. They can put forth every human effort possible and still come up short. Very frustrating I must imagine.
- But, the thing that stuck with me the most was the HUMAN FACTOR. Unlike anything else we encounter in our lives, everything we consume on our dinner tables has a person involved. And its not just some redneck, back woods dude with a piece of wheat grass sticking out of his teeth, these are educated men and women. People with degrees and credentials miles long. Yes, much of what they do and know is from the school of hard knocks, but more of it involves real science, real math, real sociological studies. Do you realize the marketing, public relations and writing skills that go into setting up and establishing a farmer's market brand? Do you know the science and math behind laying out a field, rotating crops, separating a heard, and raising poultry? Have you stopped to think about the hands that planted, cut, and sorted the food on your table. Stop and think about it. Look at your dinner plate tonight or even at lunch and think about how it got there. WHO helped make it happen. So often we take much of life for grated - we forget that the people behind the things we encounter every day have a story. A real life story. A story that involves hurt, heartache, back breaking work ethics, heartbreaking loss, and simultaneous laughter, rejoicing and celebration.
I CHALLENGE YOU to seek an opportunity to watch this film. Netflicks will carry it and community watch parties will occur. Do yourself a favor and go watch it. Educate yourself. And think about this quote from our discussion panel, "everybody's gotta eat, and our food has to come from somewhere".
For me, the evening was about real Reality TV and real Heroes. Our movie theather that night was showing Spiderman, Noah, Captain America and Farmland Film. All are superheroes. Some just happen to be in real life. (and that Sutton was a cute one and I'm pretty sure Margaret could kick your butt and serve it to you in a fantastic dinner setting!)
Let me also compliment the Arkansas Farm Bureau brotherhood on their treatment of guests. They provided a fantastic reception at a nearby hotel with yummy treats and room for conversation. It lent itself to ease of access and conversation. Both institutional for bread breaking and networking. And, because no trip to the movies is complete without a little popcorn and soda, we all got in line like school kids in our jackets and business attire to gather our treats for the movie.