In 1945, the average age of the American farmer was 39. Today, it is 55. But you don't need statistics to see the aging of the American farmer. Just stop by your local farmer's market or Grange Hall, and you'll witness firsthand the "graying of the farm population." Many of these farmers have been working their land for 20 and 30 years, but the EPA seems right to be concerned about "the long-term health of family farms as an American institution"... who's going to be farming in 10, 20, and 30 years?
If you've seen any recent media regarding the issue, you know that there are growing numbers of young farmers reclaiming American soil. Their numbers are small but growing, and in the face of minute profit margins, it would seem passion alone fuels their commitment to shaping their local harvest, and in doing so, altering America's agricultural landscape.
These farmers are often presented as happy, well-meaning people, who work under a constantly temperate sun, in picture-perfect conditions on idyllic plots, brimming with vegetables ripe for the picking. In reality, they face increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, shifting markets, pests, and poverty. They work, rain or shine (or hail or furnace-like conditions), 365 days a year. It's no small wonder why so few would want the job, but by looking at this story, audiences will glimpse the challenges and rewards that make farming not just employment, but also a calling.
The Organic Life will be a yearlong chronicle of life on the farm. The film will show not only who grows your food, but also how it is grown. We've all seen the end product at farmer's markets, grocery stores, and restaurants; however, rarely do we think about what actually transpires in the 200-some days it takes your local farmer to produce that heirloom tomato. The film focuses on one young farmer, filmmaker Casey Beck's boyfriend, Austin Blair, and tells their story, thus allowing the viewer to delve into this issue and experience over the course of one hour the low points and ultimately the joys that surface over a year of farming.
It's a story that's filled with sweat, blisters, sun, and rain as well as a compelling passion for life, food, and the earth, which seems unique to farmers. The film questions the financial future of these young people. However, as it shows one such farmer's 21st-century approach, it demonstrates that this can be a viable and fulfilling profession. In this way, The Organic Life is a look at sustainable farming-not merely how the farm itself is viable, but also how the farm sustains its keepers.