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Film fest showcases sustainability

photo courtesy of "Grow Food Northampton: Three Years Later"
The Florence Organic Community Gardens, are part of the 121-acre Grow Food Northampton cooperative documented by amateur filmmaker Trey McCain. This image is a screenshot from his film, "Grow Food Northampton: Three Years Later," told the story of the property, which was saved from development when the community banded together to buy the plot. It now hosts four farms and the community garden. McCain took first place in Friday's Pioneer Valley Transition Towns Film Festival.

photo courtesy of "Grow Food Northampton: Three Years Later" The Florence Organic Community Gardens, are part of the 121-acre Grow Food Northampton cooperative documented by amateur filmmaker Trey McCain. This image is a screenshot from his film, "Grow Food Northampton: Three Years Later," told the story of the property, which was saved from development when the community banded together to buy the plot. It now hosts four farms and the community garden. McCain took first place in Friday's Pioneer Valley Transition Towns Film Festival.

GREENFIELD — What do commercial compost, community gardens, old-fashioned barn raising and a free harvest supper have in common?

They were all subjects of short films on sustainable living screened at the third annual Pioneer Valley Transition Towns Film Festival Friday.

Trey McCain of Florence took home first place for his film, “Grow Food Northampton: Three Years Later,” which told the story of a 121-acre plot of farmland in Northampton that was saved when the community banded together to keep the property from being developed.

The property is now home to Crimson and Clover Farm, Slow Tractor Farm, the Sawmill Farm Collective, Mockingbird Farm, and several community garden plots.

The documentary was McCain’s first foray into filmmaking.

“I loved it; the best part was just sitting people down and letting them tell their stories,” he said. “I’ll definitely do it again.”

He’s got a vested interest in the subject of his first film.

“It was as much a labor of love as a matter of convenience,” said McCain, who lives a half-mile from the property. He’s been involved with Grow Food Northampton since he first came to town.

“The first thing I did when I moved to Florence was sign up for a community garden plot, even though it was already fall,” said McCain.

Other films detailed the principles behind cooperative businesses, gave insight into the commercial-scale composting at Martins Farm in Greenfield, provided recycling tips, documented a community-style post-and-beam barn raising in Ashfield, and more.

In “Ashfield Farmers Then and Now,” filmmaker David Fessenden interviewed several farmers in the small town. They told the story of farms started by their forefathers, lamented the disappearance of several of the town’s dairies, and showed how some of them have survived to the present day by adapting to the ever-changing world of agriculture.

“Free Harvest Supper” gave a history of the annual fall feast area farmers feed to all comers in a huge dinner on the Greenfield town common. It started as a pot-luck farmers held at the end of the farmers market season, and grew into something greater.

Though some of the filmmakers are veterans, and have honed their production skills through practice, 10 local access television stations made their experience and equipment accessible to all aspiring documentarians, which helped to level the playing field.

Partner stations included GCTV, Bernardston and Northfield’s BNCTV, Frontier Community Access Television, Shelburne and Buckland’s Falls Cable, Montague’s MCTV, Athol-Orange TV, Easthampton’s ECAT5, Northampton’s NCTV and TV5 of Hadley. Check individual listings to see when the films will air.

The event was sponsored by the Pioneer Valley Institute, Transition Towns groups in Greenfield, Northfield, Wendell, Amherst, Pelham and Northampton, as well as Greenfield Cooperative Bank, Citizens Bank and Locust Press.

Though only a dozen were shown at the festival, all 15 films accepted to this year’s competition are now available online, at www.gctv.org/pvttff2013. They will also be shown on all partner TV stations. Check your local listings to find out when.

David Rainville can be reached at:
drainville@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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