Short film tells plight of family-owned farms

Western Today staff

(30 seconds) Our Farms Are at Risk

The Resilience Institute at Western Washington University’s Huxley College of the Environment has released “Our Farms are at Risk,” a short film detailing the key threats to the region’s family farms.

The two-and-a-half-minute film was made by Bellingham’s Hand Crank Films and recently won a prestigious ADDY award from the American Advertising Federation in the category of best interactive web videos. It can be viewed online at

The short film and a series of interviews with local farmers are intended to spark conversation about farm issues and a search for hopeful solutions. The ultimate goal? To decrease farm vulnerability, increase farm resilience, and find strategies that keep farming viable for all ­– but it’s really about Huxley partnering with regional farmers.

“We made this video to tell a moving story – about the loss of farmland and what it means for rural communities. Although it is an emotional portrayal of difficulties in farming, it nevertheless carries a powerful message about the need for all farms, irrespective of size, to reduce risks to high energy prices, natural hazards like seasonal flooding, and climate change,” said Gigi Berardi, director of the institute’s Resilient Farms Project and a professor of Environmental Studies at Western.

The film features local farmers Dorie Belisle of BelleWood Acres, Larry Stap of Twin Brook Creamery, Debbie VanderVeen of Veen Huizen Farms and Troy Lenssen of Lenssen Dairy.

“My hope is that people watching the film will start to care about the rural landscape – and that means valuing food a different way as well,” said Berardi.

“With a new farm bill on the horizon and people’s general ‘disconnect’ from the food they eat, we thought it more important than ever to launch this program.”

The Resilience Institute is part of Western Washington University's Huxley College of the Environment. It facilitates scholarship, education, and practice on reducing social and physical vulnerability to natural hazards through sustainable community development. The Institute promotes sustainable development strategies as a way to minimize loss and enhance recovery from disasters, and foster resilient communities in Washington State and its interdependent global communities.

WWU's Huxley College of the Environment is one of the oldest environmental colleges in the nation and a recognized national leader in producing the next generation of environmental stewards. The College's academic programs reflect a broad view of the physical, biological, social and cultural world. This innovative and interdisciplinary approach makes Huxley unique. The College has earned international recognition for the quality of its programs.

For more information on the film or on The Resilience Institute at Western Washington University’s Huxley College of the Environment, contact Gigi Berardi at (360) 650-2106.

Friday, February 24, 2012 - 12:12pm