"There are some really big questions and problems that we're facing today - land acquisition and access to capital are huge barriers to farming - but maybe the most important one is that we don't have enough young farmers."
Ask anyone these days and chances are they'll say they support local food - they're aware of the importance of shopping at the farmers market, enjoy farm-to-table dining, and appreciate the seasonality of what they eat.
But despite this enthusiasm for local, seasonal food, many people are unaware that the agriculture industry is in the midst of a transformation - a transformation that is challenging yet promising, and offers an opportunity to revolutionize our food system.
With an average age of 55, Canadian farmers are getting older. The next generation of farmers will shoulder the burden of Canada's future food security - and are inheriting a system that has much room for improvement. In fact, with the imminent retirement of the old guard, many without a succession plan, we are at a pivotal crossroads in agriculture. What and how this new generation choose to farm now and in the coming years will have huge implications on the future of food, climate, and community in Canada.
Why this film and why now?
The devastating impacts of extreme weather on farms across the country has dominated news headlines this year. As a result of fires, droughts and flooding, crops have been damaged, communities have been displaced, and supply chains have been disrupted. As climate change continues, farming will become an even riskier endeavour and will impact the ability for young farmers to enter and succeed in agriculture - the industry that is responsible for feeding us and future generations.
It can’t be denied that conventional farming practices have played a major role in the climate crisis and have perpetuated systemic inequalities in food systems. Young farmer Ayla Fenton explains, “More industrialized agriculture that farmers have been encouraged to adopt over the past several decades has been based on a colonial mindset of dominating the land and controlling nature.” Digging into the history of farming practices brings up uncomfortable truths that make it hard to deny that more work needs to be done to ensure our food system is sustainable, inclusive, equitable and secure.
Despite the problems of the past, we see a future of farming that’s much brighter. And we believe that it begins with the next generation of farmers that support a truly regenerative model, one that considers social and environmental responsibility.
Initial interviews show this younger generation of farmers to be knowledgeable, energetic, and passionate. Many of them see their work as a form of activism, and have a strong desire to transform our system into one that can not only grow healthy food but also mitigate the effects of climate change and tackle many of the social and economic crises that we are facing today. To do this, these young farmers are turning towards regenerative models.
Regenerative prioritizes soil health while simultaneously encompassing high standards for animal welfare and worker fairness. The idea is to create farm systems that work in harmony with nature to improve quality of life for every creature involved.
- Rodale Institute
To transform this system into one that is truly regenerative - for the land, the people and the animals - this next generation of farmers need our support and deserve our attention. By sharing the aspirations, the struggles, and the visions of these young farmers, our film will shed light on the many pressing issues of our food system and viewers will be inspired to do their part to support the future of healthy, sustainable food in Canada.
Why a documentary film?
Films have the power to build awareness and inspire action. Roger Ebert refers to films as the “most powerful empathy machine in all the arts.” There’s a term for supporting documentaries that mobilize movements - “filmanthropy.” By blending film and philanthropy, we hope that our project, Farming: The Next Generation will have a lasting, positive impact.
We are deeply in need of powerful, trustworthy, extensively researched, nuanced documentaries aiming to set the record straight, shine a light on misdeeds, offer counter-narratives to official stories, and change conversations, spark action and mobilize movements.
- Lisa Leeman, Writer/Director/Producer
Pledge your support now by selecting one of the many reward categories. From film posters to t-shirts to having your name appear in the film credits, there are several rewards up for grabs. But perhaps the biggest reward of all is being a part of a movement to support young farmers on their mission to transform our food system into one that benefits us all.
What's the budget and timeline?
Through Wayblaze, sponsors and grants we are raising funds to support crucial elements of the film's production: cinematography, videography, writing, producing, directing, and travel, to name a few. Pre-production is anticipated to start Summer/Fall 2021 (i.e. research, preliminary interviews, assembling the team, initial scripting) with filming beginning in the fall/winter and carrying over into the spring and summer of 2022. Editing/post-production work will begin in Fall/Winter 2022.
Who's behind the project?
Tamer Soliman (director, producer, writer) and Sarah Douglas (writer, story editor) have collaborated on award-winning documentaries. Their films invariably deal with meaningful and timely health topics, and all have reached and inspired local as well as international audiences. Their production company, March Forth Creative, aims to create thought-provoking media and educational resources that inspire positive community change.
With a background in holistic wellness and a keen interest in longevity, Tamer shows people that a truly healthy life includes eating local and sustainable food, having strong social connections, and cultivating a deep relationship to our natural environment. Drawing on her own background in education, public policy, and the arts, Sarah Douglas strives to teach, inspire, motivate, and present possibilities, using the transformative power of storytelling to effect change.
Among their proudest achievements is writing and producing Bright Spot, a film that has contributed to the revival of the local food movement in the Cayman Islands. Their latest award-winning film, The Great Disconnect, invites people to explore the relationship between their sense of community and overall sense of wellbeing, and has been screened across Canada and in more than 10 countries across Europe. Two reputable distribution companies - Scorpion TV and McIntyre Media - have acquired the rights to the film, and are actively distributing it in multiple markets.
As a testament to their continued passion, Tamer and Sarah regularly participate in private screening and panel discussions.
Click on the links below to learn more about their film projects and the positive impacts they've made:
The Great Disconnect
- Best Feature Film award (Better Cities Film Festival)
- Film distribution through Scorpion TV
- Film distribution through McIntyre Media
- "The Great Reconnect" - news article featuring the film
- IMBD page with reviews
- Additional film reviews
- Film link
- "Precious Oil Resource" news article featuring the film
- "Annual Coco-Fest" article on the movement inspired by the film
- Thomson Reuters Foundation article featuring the film