Koorosh Farchadi (2016 Fellow) went on a whirlwind journey to get behind the science and politics of climate change to hear from everyday farmers who are facing the impact of climate change with resilience. He recounts the story of a 40-day cross-country production trip while filming his documentary HARVESTS OF HOPE.
by Koorosh Farchadi
May 23, 2016
Just over four years ago Karen Buchsbaum and I were carpooling to Norfolk, VA, to visit a friend for New Year’s Eve. The conversation led us to climate change and how the people who are most in touch with how the land was changing—and what to do next—were farmers. The idea for Harvests of Hope was born.
So why did two people think they could make a just make a film? Passion.
I produced content for various platforms starting from a ripe young age, and held many positions at various organizations throughout my over fifteen years in the biz. Student films, foreign news, TV shows, webisodes, podcasts, corporate identity, documentaries—but never my own film. Sometimes it just takes a two-hour car-ride-conversation to find your passion.
Since then we’ve driven through three countries interviewing farmers and experts on the best solutions to the greatest issue of our time—Climate Change. In March 2015 we decided to hit the road again, this time for tell the story of climate change in our country.
The road is a crazy place. We took the 10,000+ mile, 40+ day long trip in a 2000 Nissan Xterra jam packed with equipment, food, clothing, bedding, and our little dog, Peaches.
Living and working in a SUV on the road is no easy task. We faced many challenges along the way—engine trouble, lodging issues, equipment malfunction, and above all time. Forty days seems like a lot of time, but the United States is a really big place, and there are a lot of inspiring stories to tell about resilience in the agricultural sector.
Thinking back, Climate Change was a concern for me ever since I heard of the ozone hole as a kid in the 90’s. I also recall loving to eat. I’ve always been more interested in reading the news than novels. I was increasingly seeing stories about how fragile our food systems are. The more I learned about it, the more I started to see how large a problem habitat degradation, food security, and food justice are—not just in the developing world—but in the United States.
As we meandered through the country people everywhere were saying the same things. What really drove the story home for me was seeing first hand how thirsty the Western United States is. While in California, we got the opportunity to see just how severe the drought plaguing the state. It was a view of Mono Lake from the sky. There’s a wooden boardwalk that extends from where the beach was in the 1940’s down to where the water level is now. It’s quite a distance to walk. Along the way trees grow where there was once meters high water. As you walk down you can’t help but think, “This was all once underwater?!?”
Predictions from supercomputers and experts we’ve listened to all tend to be in line with what the farmers are saying: The climate is changing and we must adapt… NOW! My hope is that we are able to adapt quickly, but our values and attitudes towards the Earth—our blue dot, our home—will also have to change.
We hope to see more localized agriculture, especially people growing gardens at home. We hope to see more biodiversity on farms large or small scale. We hope to see respect for the Earth through conscientious consumer choices and behaviors. We hope to see legislation that rewards local biodiversity and disincentives chemically grown, monoculture practices.
We’ve heard many stories from people in all walks of life and from different backgrounds. Besides hope for the future, they all share a passion. Passion for the Earth, plants and animals in their care, but ultimately passion for their fellow man. Farming is a tough and often thankless job, and external forces make it harder every year. Although we may seem powerless to change the practices of government, society, and big agriculture, we must remember—the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Let’s make sure it’s in the direction of a sustainable tomorrow.
Watch the trailer for Harvests of Hope