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New film festival showcases sustainability

GREENFIELD — “Grow Food Everywhere” was not only the name of the winning film in a local festival, but a theme shared by many of the documentaries shown.

The first-ever Pioneer Valley Transition Towns Film Festival was a chance for veteran and new filmmakers from the area to have their films shown and bring attention to some innovative projects going on up and down the valley.

A total of 18 short (under 10 minutes) films were received, and nine were picked for the festival, emceed by filmmaker and Bernardston resident Rawn Fulton.

The winning film was about programs run by Seeds of Solidarity Farm in Orange. Samantha Lyon, a graduate of Smith College who now lives back in her hometown of Los Angeles, interviewed farm owners Deb Habib and Ricky Baruc, as well as the kids they’ve taught and members of the community they reach.

The main focus of the film was the farm’s Seeds of Leadership program. Area high school kids come to the farm after school to learn how to care for crops. Then, they help local elementary school kids start their own gardens. The high-schoolers harvest their own veggies, and divide them into farm shares which go to low-income families and seniors in the area.

Habib and Baruc also run their farm — and their house — completely off the grid. They use solar hot water and electricity, heat with wood and run vehicles on biodiesel.

You can see “Grow Food Everywhere” now on Greenfield Community Televesion’s website, www.gctv.org.

Over in the Patch section of Turners Falls, Tom Sullivan is spreading the message, “Pollinators Welcome.”

The film, by Jessica Tanner, shows Sullivan’s efforts to make a bee-friendly section of town. By planting flowers and edibles that attract honeybees and bumblebees, he shows how people can build pollinator-friendly habitats, and encourages neighbors to create “fly-ways” for bees, so they can go between pollen-rich plants with ease.

Other films featured projects focused on growing food in under-used spaces.

Ever been out for a walk downtown and started to feel a bit hungry? A Northampton group envisions a town where you can reach out an pluck some fruit right from the tree.

“Help Yourself!” details the efforts of the group by the same name.

“Why not grow an apple tree or some herbs on that median or strip of public grass?” the group asked itself, and later, city officials. Neither could come up with a good reason not to, and the group got the city’s approval to start planting.

Festival organizer Judy Phillips of Transition Northfield hopes the festival will be an annual event.

“The quality and inspiration of all the films was great,” she said. “Over the years, it could become a real library of how-tos and possibilities.”

Pioneer Valley Transition Towns Greenfield, Northfield, Wendell, Pelham, Amherst and Northampton sponsored the event, along with the Pioneer Valley Institute. Partners include the community media centers GCTV, MCTV, BNCTV, AOTV, FCAT,Falls Cable and NCTV also provided their resources to filmmakers.

Several local businesses also donated food for a post-festival reception.

If you’d like to hold a screening of any of the films, the festival’s organizers can be reached at pvttff@gmail.com, and are glad to coordinate contact with filmmakers.

You can catch all 18 short film submissions on GCTV starting at 5 p.m. Friday. They will also be shown on the other participating local access stations; check their listings for details.

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

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