Jewly and I made this movie about local food issues that we feel passionate about…
Viva La Veggie:the Local Food Revolution is a documentary shot mainly in Greenville MI. What started out as simply a habit of bringing the digital camera everywhere we went became the launching pad for this project. Our regular trips to the Greenville Farmer’s Market every Tuesday and Thursday was a favorite ritual. That is where we met our favorite farmers, John and Katie Town, two local farmers interested in sustainable, chemical free farming. Like many local farmers, they didn’t use the term organic because they did not have the certifications that are too costly for the average little guy farmer to obtain, but their farming practices for all intents and purposes were as close as you can get without the little stamp of approval from the National Organic Program.
We were so impressed by John and Katie, and all of the other growers and regular customers at the Farmer’s Market, and by the feeling of genuine community we found there, that were inspired to make the movie. Of course we were so passionate about the topics we touched upon in the movie that we almost couldn’t bring ourselves to stop filming at the end of summer. In fact, i was shooting film in Toronto at an open air market in China Town during a sunny October afternoon when i had to admit that maybe i was stretching the scope of my “local” movie a little too broadly! In the end, my idea for a 5 minute movie turned out to be a final product of just under 30 minutes… and that was after a lot of judicial editing..
We used Greenville as the model for the thesis in our movie. We found that sticking to the rural area surrounding town was pretty productive. Untold acres of farm land for crops and animals… tractors of every shape, size, and color… plenty of decaying barns… a C.A.F.O. full of calves… and a thriving Amish population in the county gave us plenty of opportunities to discuss the themes in our movie. Our city is even home to a regional big box grocery and retail outlet,Meijer, so it was a perfect choice for our movie location given all of these resources. Though we felt that it didn’t matter if you live in New York City or Greenville or any size city in between; Local food is available everywhere. Sometimes you just have to look a little harder.
It was amazing to find all of these great resources for eating local. We found a lot of great people everywhere we went in search of material for our movie. We learned an insane amount of information doing research. I think the most important part of it all for me was the way all of this forced me to rethink my eating habits and my lifestyle in general. It really is important to get into a more sustainable way of living, by the products you buy and consume, the food you put in your body, the investments you make in your community.
So after a summer of shooting endless gigabytes of video, and a long winter of alternately editing, and then procrastinating, followed by more editing, we finally came through on our vision to complete the movie. Now we just needed an appropriate venue to show it. To solve this issue, we took matters into our own hands. We decided our local food movie should be seen locally. We thought it would be fun to put together a festival that some of the themes in the movie, promoting local food, organics, sustainable living and more. What we finally ended up creating was the Greenville Earth Day Fest 2009, which you can read about on Analog Mutant. We had art and craft vendors, local foods, representives from United Solar Ovonic, a hybrid Prius from Randy Merren in Greenville, State Rep Mike Huckleberry, Mayor Snow, and nearly 30 great local bands.
We ended up getting lots of coverage from The Daily News of Greenville, who were also a sponsor for the event. WGLM 106.3FM was also another generous sponsor who supported us with ads on air, and even played an interview with one of our musicians, Gloria Coon. I even recorded one of Gloria’s songs for the radio station to play after the interview. It received a lot of buzz in town.
The aftermath of the Earth Day Festival was pretty fun in itself. Lots of people told us how much they enjoyed it, and how Greenville really needed events like this. We kind of felt like the proverbial big fish in a small pond. We had all kinds of ideas for the next event we wanted to throw, bigger and better this and that, and we learned a few valuable lessons on how to run things next time around. Now that we have moved to Grand Rapids, we have gotten temporarily off track with these plans. Once we get our lives a little more turned around (both of us were laid off recently- stupid economy!) and start making some more networking connections in the city, we have plans to do similar events for the future. We’ve already made some good friends who will be a big help when the time comes for next big show. Stay tuned for details