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Growing Farmers Documentary Wins Audience Choice at 2012 Hamptons International Film Festival

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Quail Hill Farm
October 1, 2017

By Yvette DeBow-Salsedo

Growing Farmers looks at the issue of affordable farmland on Long Island and the Trust's Farms for the Future Initiative.

Growing Farmers, by filmmakers Michael Halsband and Hilary Leff, in partnership with the Peconic Land Trust, is a documentary film that looked at the issue of affordable farmland and the Trust’s Farms for the Future. The film tells the stories of several farmers who are leasing land either owned or managed by the Peconic Land Trust in the face of one of the greatest impediments facing farmers on Eastern Long Island.  

The film premiered at the Hamptons International Film Festival in October 2012, winning the festival’s Audience Choice award.

“We are so proud of the film Michael and Hilary produced regarding our work with farmers here on the East End,” said Trust President Halsey. “Access to affordable farmland is certainly a real challenge to farmers – both those new to agriculture as well as those who are looking to expand their existing operations. The Trust is committed to identifying solutions to this issue, along with others, which threatens working farms on Long Island and beyond. The stories told in the film highlight the challenges and opportunities that all farmers face.”  

Not only does Growing Farmers includes conversations with farmers who are leasing conserved land from the Trust, both on the North and South Forks, but also looks at the larger community of chefs, students, and educators involved in the food movement on Long Island.  

“Working with the Peconic Land Trust to make the movie has made me realize more then ever how important it is for everyone to know how vital and important it is to each and everyone of us to support farming wherever we are,” said Director Michael Halsband. “It directly impacts our health and well being, and our support of farmers who really care about the quality of the food they grow is and has become more important then ever. I hope this documentary we made will help to spark a greater awareness and interest in where our food is coming from and an appreciation for the people who put the love into growing it for us.”  

“Getting to know some of the young farmers and hearing their stories was inspiring. The work that the Land Trust is doing in helping to keep farming on the East End is so important on so many levels; it helps the economy, it creates jobs for people interested in farming, it provides fresh, local food for the community,” said co-Producer Hilary Leff.  

The film features interviews with John v.H. Halsey, Scott Chaskey, Chef Joe Realmuto, Amanda Merrow and Katie Baldwin of Amber Waves Farm, Alex Balsam and Ian Calder-Piedmonte of Balsam Farms, Fred Lee of Sang Lee Farm, Chris Browder of Browder’s Birds, Stephanie Gaylor of Invincible Summer Farms and more.