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By Lacey Gardner

Local farmers featured in documentary film

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“Foodways: Stories of Farms, Food, & Resilience”

        by Mary Gardner-Ruch

On Saturday, April 22nd, the premiere screening of a full-length feature documentary took place examining the food system of the western Southern Tier of New York State. The documentary, Foodways: Stories of Farms, Food & Resilience was held at the Cutco Theater at Jamestown Community College Olean Campus. A reception followed with a chance to meet the farmers highlighted in the film.

The event was sponsored by the NY Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, Southern Tier West Regional Planning & Development Board, and Panvenni Films and was supported with funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

Richard Zink, Executive Director at Southern Tier West welcomed the people gathered for the viewing with a special thanks to Murphy and Sharon Tom who directed and produced the documentary, and to Kimberly LaMendola, Food System Projects Manager for NY Sustainable Agriculture Working Group.  There were many others who were mentioned whose time and talent went into the making of this documentary.

Richard stated, “We wanted to tell the truth”.  “How do we learn from the last 3 years from the experience of the Pandemic and how do we learn from the last 30 years?” Kim remarked, “ We want this film to provoke you, changing what you think you know into a reaction that becomes an action.”

The documentary defines what a food system is and outlines the challenges faced by those who grow, process, transport, access, and consume food.  It also speaks of those who are regenerating the land and supporting safe food production. They especially wanted a clearer understanding of the complexities that contribute to systemic and chronic food insecurity and what lessons could be learned from the pandemic’s unprecedented blow to the farm and food economy. 

The following were highlighted in the film:  Abers Acres, Alterity Regenerative Ranching, Amos Zittel & Sons, Inc., Canticle Farm, Inc., Clearwater Creek Compost, Eden Valley Creamery, Eden Valley Growers, FeedMore WNY, Jamestown Public Market, Mascho Homestead Farms, Olean Area Farmers Market, Olean Food Pantry, Rise’n’Swine Farm, Roberto Fred Farm, Sojourner Farm, and Sunny Cove Organic Farm. 

Mascho Homestead Farm is located in Angelica and Sunny Cove Organic Farm is located in Alfred Station.  Jim and Danelle Mascho focus on pasture-based animal farming specializing in farm-to-table farm products.   They raise beef cattle and pigs, as well as their own vegetables. 

The Snyders run a family-owned farm started by Dotty and Jerry Snyder.  Their son Kelby and his wife Kristina manage the farm now.  The daughter, Meghan, plays an important role too. They provide organic milk, beef, maple syrup,  apples, and more. The store on their farm sells their animal, vegetable, and fruit products as well as soaps, vanilla, candles, jewelry, and other gift items. They also deliver their products as far as Buffalo.

It was an honor for both of these Allegany County farms to be chosen for this project.  There will be a public screening of the documentary on May 2nd at the Jamestown Reg Lenna Theater at 6 pm.  If you are interested in hosting a screening, contact Kimberly LaMendola at kimberly@SustainAgricultureNYS.org or at www.FreshLocalWNY.org.

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