This post is a sponsored by CommonGround Nebraska. CommonGround is a national movement of farm women who want to share information about farming and food. CommonGround Nebraska are farm women in the state who volunteer their time working to help dispel myths and build trust in farm families. They aim to answer questions and share facts as well as their personal stories of farm life to find “common ground” between the food they grow and the food you eat! All thoughts & opinions expressed are my own.
I’ve spent the majority of my life in the state of Nebraska. I’ve spent hours on the road passing miles and miles of farmland, but that doesn’t make me an expert on farming or agriculture. If I’ve learned anything over the past few years visiting with different farmers, it’s that each farmer is unique and has a different story to tell.
This is why I am such a fan of the movie Farmland. The film focuses on the stories of six young farmers from different areas of the US, including Nebraska. Even though all the farmers were focusing on different types of agriculture, the running theme throughout the film is that they all care and are passionate about the land they farm.
Last week I traveled to Carroll, NE to visit with David Loberg. David is a 5th generation corn and soybean farmer and is one of the farmers featured in the movie Farmland. In addition to growing corn and soy, he also custom feeds Holstein cows. If that wasn’t enough, he’s also a volunteer for the local fire department.
David was first approached about doing the film in the fall of 2012. He said his sister, Megan, had submitted the family name for a contest not related to the film, but the film producers from Allentown production came across his information and asked if he would be interested in doing the film. A few months later, the crew showed up on Easter Sunday. The film crew spend the next 8 days filming David’s family and capturing life on the farm.
The house below belongs to David’s great grandpa, Frank who built the farmstead. Now David lives about 1-2 miles away with his wife and son, but his mother still lives in the original farmhouse.
David was gracious enough to provide a tour of his farm and spend several minutes answering my questions. Here are a few highlights from our discussion…
What makes you similar to the other farmers in the film?
“Most of us have young families and are married. We all love what we do. We all value our family. We all have the desire to stay involved in our communities.”
Do you stay in touch with the other farmers in the film?
“Yeah, we’re all friends on Facebook and we keep tabs on each other through Facebook and texting. That was the best part of the project was to get to meet the other farmers. I felt like we were friends the second we met.”
What surprised you about the film when you saw it for the first time?
“I didn’t even know what the movie was until we actually saw the documentary. I didn’t realize that we (the farmers) were the story they wanted to focus on.”
What do you think about trolls or people who attack farmers online?
“It’s counterproductive to get to wrapped up in. You’re not going to change what the loudest voices are shouting loudly. I tried debating someone on Facebook one time and I spent 30 minutes of research to provide a nice response and then a minute later, they responded by calling me names. That’s not a productive environment. You’re not going to call somebody an idiot to their face, but people feel like they can say things like that online because it’s not face to face.”
Have you received criticism because of the film? How do you respond to that?
“Yes, but only through social media. I actually did write an email to one of the reviewers on RogerEbert.com because he just blasted the film. My response was to invite him out to the farm, but he never replied back. Most of the criticism comes from people online that aren’t tied to farming.”
Do you think people will identify with your story?
“Everybody has lost a loved one. I’m not the only one to lose a dad to cancer way too early. It’s hard losing a family member, but when you lose somebody that is the other half of your business, it will definitely impact everything. It’s not just about losing your loved one. You’re losing half your farm.”
“I was happy to see that corn on the bookshelf make it into the movie. I didn’t realize the film crew had filmed that. I’m glad they captured it. It felt like we were honoring Dad because Dad never would have told that story for himself.”
Do you think your dad would be proud of you?
“Dad always did his best to not be in the spotlight, but that was just him. But yeah, I think so. ”
What are the differences between the older generation and your generation of farmers?
“Technology for sure. It’s hard because mom and dad went through the 80’s and the recession. And we’re bracing now for an Ag recession. The older generation has been through those tough times and they get it. Without having that experience, it’s hard to keep in mind the bigger picture.”
What are you hoping that people take away from seeing the film?
“I don’t think that’s for me to decide. Everybody who watches it walks away with a different viewpoint. This is something we want the public to decide what they see and what they interpret. If we make it all about GMOs, you lose context of everything that is going on in the film. The movie wasn’t about picking sides. It opens the discussion. If you want to know about a farm, we’re there to talk.”
What do you think about being the poster child of Nebraska farming?
(Laughs) “I didn’t realize I was.”
What kind of foods do you eat? What are your favorite foods?
“I love a good pot roast with vegetables. I also love lasagna and steak.”
What would you do if you weren’t farming?
“Probably irrigation, but maybe something industrial. If I couldn’t farm, I would be working for a farmer. If I had to choose something outside of Ag, it would probably be welding. I couldn’t sit in a cubicle.”
Why should I tell my friends and family to come see the movie?
“It used to be that everybody knew a farmer. Now most people don’t have any connection to a farmer. Some people might think they know what we do, but most likely probably not. I hope it will give people a different perspective.”
Special thanks to CommonGround Nebraska and David Loberg for his time.
For those of you who live in Lincoln, I hope to see you at the screening on March 16th at the Grand Theatre at 6:30 pm. Attendance is free, but donations to the Food Bank of Lincoln are appreciated.