Grazers: A Cooperative Story

How Small New York Farmers Banded Together to Save Their Land and Livelihoods
Collective Eye Films

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 are still operating and they are looking for new membership.

[Editor's Note: Here's how the Adirondack Grazers Cooperative describes themself on their website:

Adirondack Grazers Cooperative is a farmer owned co-op providing members with…

  • Information, feedback and bonuses for quality
  • Steady market outlet through FreshDirect.com
  • Simple scheduling and help with  trucking
  • Consistent prices above market
  • Bulk purchasing of mineral and supplies
  • Information sharing and learning opportunities
  • Cow/calf finishers wanted for Value Chain

...We look forward to hearing about your farm and answering any questions you may have! However, because of high interest in the Co-op, it may be a few weeks before you hear from us, as the screening and reviewing process takes time.]

 

To find out how to host a screening of the film, visit the Grazers website

Visit the Adirondack Grazers Cooperative website to get involved, either as a farmer or as a customer.

 

Go to the GEO front page

Publication Date: 
Friday, May 13, 2016