“Rhythms of the Land!” is a documentary-in-progress which tells the important stories of African American farmers. Join Food Sleuth Radio host and Registered Dietitian, Melinda Hemmelgarn, for her interview with cultural anthropologist and film maker, Gail Myers, Ph.D. Myers shares her life experiences, explains the transformative nature of gardens especially for troubled youth, and gives us a sneak preview of what to expect in her upcoming film.
Over the course of 4 weeks, Gail Myers traveled by car to 10 Southern states interviewed African American farmers, former sharecroppers, and urban gardeners. This trailer spotlights a few of the more than 30 interviews weaving a compelling story of love for family, land, God, and community. “Rhythms of the Land” brings to life a love story seldom told.
The film features, amongst others, interviews with aunt Rosa L. Hurt; the stately former sharecropper Icefene Thomas born in 1903; Prairie View, Texas farmer, Charlie Brown, who can boast of never having suffered a failed crop; and Devorah Williams, daughter of a Georgia sharecropper, who in 1996 founded the first Atlanta community garden in a trash-strewn vacant lot, now a thriving urban farm where the community can freely pick fruits and vegetables, to each according to need.
There’s also Alvin Steppe, whose own fight against the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture for loan discrimination against black farmers initiated the historic 1999 class action, Pigford v. Glickman; Texas aquaponics visionary, Russell Prince; and Shirley Sherrod, the Georgia State Director of Rural Development for the USDA who was forced to resign her post because of unfair charges of racism, who tells the tragic story of her farming father’s murder by a white farmer that inspired her long career of public service.
Ms. Myers has traveled ten Southern states and gathered the testimonies of over thirty farmers and gardeners. They all speak of doing more with less, and keeping their farms natural without using pesticides, GMOs, or chemical fertilizers. Accountability to one’s elders and responsibility to one’s neighbors, community, and to the land itself are constant themes in their stories, all told with considerable Southern panache. It is the filmmaker’s hope that “Rhythms of the Land” will connect individual stories of hardship and resistance to the larger rhythms of nature and history, and inspire urban youth to reconnect with their deep and sustaining agricultural roots.