Forgotten Farms examines class divides in our farm and food communities. Most people buy their food in supermarkets and don’t have a chance to meet their farmer, as the bumper sticker recommends. But in more affluent communities, farm-to-table restaurants, farmer’s markets and CSAs are booming and the new farmers are celebrated.
There is another farmer who is left out of the local food celebration.
New England has lost over 10,000 dairy farms in the past 50 years; fewer than 2,000 farms remain. Collectively, they tend 1.2 million acres of farmland and produce almost all of the milk consumed in New England. In our enthusiasm for the new food movement, we often overlook the farmers at the foundation of the regional agricultural economy. Only 100 years ago, New England produced most of its own food on 16 million acres of farmland. Climate change will demand that more of our food is grown closer to where we live. As we strive to revive local production, we have much to learn from dairy farmers who have been managing most of the farmland and sustaining the farm economy all along. Through conversations with farmers and policy experts, the film reconsiders the role of these vital but forgotten farmers.
Forgotten Farms gives us a glimpse into the past and a vision for a future regional food system. The documentary shows the cultural divide between the new food movement and traditional farming, highlighting the need to examine differences, develop mutual understanding, and find common ground. A truly sustainable local food system that benefits everyone will rely on all of our farmers.