The First Season directed by Rudd Simmons, producer of compelling Hollywood films such as The Road, Dead Man Walking and The Royal Tenenbaums, dramatically tells the story of dairy farmers Paul and Phyllis VanAmburgh, an upstate New York couple, as they struggle to learn how to milk cows while caring for their young children, coming together in the evenings to face down monumental financial stress at a kitchen table piled with overdue bills.
“Culinary arts students use fresh, healthy farm products every day and influence the minds and stomachs of New Yorkers,” said David Haight New York State Director for AFT. “Today’s event was designed to raise student awareness of the issues dairy farmers face in bringing their products to market and the fact that the farmland dairy farmers need to survive is being paved over at an alarming rate.”
The screening of The First Season was followed by a discussion between attendees and panelists about the future of dairy farming in New York and the role of farmland conservation in protecting the agricultural land base critical to the success of the dairy industry.
The discussion was moderated by American Farmland Trust’s David Haight and panelists included: Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell, Beekman 1802; Sam Simon, Hudson Valley Fresh; Paul and Phyllis Van Amburgh, Dharma Lea Farm; and Stuart Ziehm, Tiashoke Farm.
“Josh and I have great respect for our neighbors Paul and Phyllis VanAmburgh of Dharma Lea Farm as well as all the hardworking dairy farmers in our community,” said Brent Ridge of Beekman 1802. “The wide open pastureland in Sharon and our neighboring towns of Seward and Carlisle have historically been a dairy and cheese-making stronghold and combined represent the largest solid block of agricultural land in our region. It is critically important to the local food supply that we support our dairy farmers and keep this irreplaceable farmland in agricultural production.”
American Farmland Trust has several initiatives in New York to strengthen the economic viability of farming, including: Farm To Institution New York State (FINYS), a partnership of agricultural, economic development and public health interests aimed at increasing the volume of local food served at institutions in New York and the Hudson Valley Farmlink Network, a partnership of agricultural and land conservation organizations aimed at facilitating farm transfers and improving access to land for the next generation of farmers in the Hudson Valley.
The American Farmland Trust is the nation’s leading conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land.