GRAZERS: A Cooperative Story (screening)

  • Directed by: Lisa F. Jackson & Sarah Teale
  • Produced by: Sarah Teale & Lisa F. Jackson 

 
https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0133/2562/files/Grazers_Screenguide.pdf?13880331703347033096

Released: 2014
Running Time: 69 mins
Subtitles: None
Subjects: Agricultural StudiesEnvironmental Studies

GRAZERS: A Cooperative Story, follows a group of small farmers with big ideas who fight to start a cooperative to sell their grass-fed beef and are almost undone by a broken food system and their own naiveté. In New York state where a farm is lost every 3 days, the Coop’s 2-year struggle affords an intimate perspective on a national problem: is it possible for local food and small farms to compete with an industrialized food system? At stake for many are their farms, their communities and a way of life.

Grazers: A Cooperative Story (trailer) from Collective Eye Films on Vimeo.

Awards:

  • Official Selection, Doc NYC 2014
  • Official Selection, Berkshire International Film Festival 2015
  • Official Selection, Florida Film Festival 2015
  • Office Selection, Colorado Environmental Film Festival 

Quotes & Reviews: 

In addition to helping farmers with tangibles like the marketing and sale of their beef, the cooperative is also providing something more elusive — call it hope — in a state where, one farm is lost to development every three and a half days. - Kathryn shattuck, NYTimes

This languidly paced documentary attempts to capitalize on the surge of interest in the organic, farm-to-table, and localized food movements. The advantages of knowing more about the food we eat are obvious—it contains fewer chemicals and is more natural. In most of America, as farmers lose their land, a vast amount of property goes unused for agricultural purposes. Grazers follows farmers in New York and Vermont trying to save their land through the creation of the Adirondack Grazers Cooperative as they get into the grass-fed beef business. Between stiff competition and organizational mistakes, it is just as difficult to be in the cattle-grazing business as it is to plant fields. Watching earnest, hardworking folks struggle to make a living gives the documentary an air of sadness. VERDICT Full of images of striking, rolling pastures but barely over an hour long, Grazers is plagued by an unfinished quality. Its inability to create depth with its subjects makes it recommended only for communities with a strong interest in these food movements. - Library Journal

We get a lesson in the fact that this is not just a matter of keeping your cows healthy and making sure that they will produce good beef, but also you have to become experts in packaging and navigating the intricacies of selling beef. - Leonard Lopate, The Leonard Lopate Show WNYC


This Kickstarter funded documentary begins with the following sobering statistics: In New York State a farm is lost every 3.5 days. 215,000 acres of farmland lie idle. Noticing the alarming rate in which local farms were being be sold off, in 2012 documentary filmmaker Sarah Teale (HBO’s The Weight of the Nation) formed a cooperative of grass-fed beef farmers called the Adirondack Grazers. Grazers follows the Co-Op’s first two years. These are not the young hip urbanites we’re used to seeing in the current deluge of agricultural and sustainable living documentaries such as Edible City (2014), Growing Cities: A Film About Urban Farming in America (2013), Brooklyn Farmer (2014), and Plant This Movie (2014). This co-op is not interested in artisanal products, organic food or environmentalism. The children of these rural New York farmers are choosing other careers and giving up the family business. The co-op is a last-ditch effort to keep their land and maintain a dying way of life. The co-op faces the predictable challenges of any project undertaken by a bunch of independently-minded adults. But the most interesting trials are those not covered in other co-op documentaries: finding a reliable local food distributor, locating chefs who know how to cook their specialty beef, and crafting relationships with chefs and restaurants who pay on time. According to American Farmland Trust, every minute of every day the United States loses nearly an acre of farmland. Grazers provides an alternative to that alarming future. As of this writing the Adirondack Grazers (http://adkgrazers.com/) are still operating and they are looking for new membership. Grazers is very specialized subject matter, most appropriate for New York local collections, agricultural collections or a rural public library.- Educational Media Review Online


This lushly filmed documentary follows the joys and tribulations of a group of farmers in upstate New York - many of whom originally raised dairy cattle - as they form a co - op to raise and sell grass-fed beef. Farms in the state continue to cease operations at an alarming rate - one every three days - and in this corner of the Adirondacks the gently rolling terrain is not amenable to huge agribusinesses that have overtaken small enterprises in the Midwest and prairies states. Filmmakers Sarah Teale and Lisa F. Jackson spend two years following the nascent Adirondack Grocers Co-op, interspersing bucolic shots of the landscape and herds i all season with the drama of survival, as farmers tend their stock and marketers struggle with supply and distribution problems, trying to get upscale restaurants and groceries to order the more expensive meat. At one point, the organization collapses, but the participants forge on. With the signing of a large online grocery retailer, the effort seems finally to be on firm ground - the original 10 members outfits having growing to 36. An encouraging exploration of how small-family farming ventures can make a go of it, this is highly recommended.