“I am done with apologies. If contrariness is my inheritance and destiny, so be it. If it is my mission to go in at exits and come out at entrances, so be it.”
- Wendell Berry, “Contrariness of the Mad Farmer” poem
The Mad Farmer Series
The Mad Farmer is a series of character-driven video portraits of mad farmers and ranchers - people who are implementing innovative climate-forward solutions on their land, stories told by the farmers themselves. We focus our storytelling on farmers and ranchers, people who have agency in the communities where climate action can make a huge difference. We will share their stories, sprinkling a little bit of the science behind what they are doing and why their actions are not only good for the land, and their business bottom lines, but also address climate change. We will draw stories from conservative communities, black and immigrant communities, women-led efforts to show that across a wide range of political, racial and belief groups, there is common ground. Their stories, the footage from their farms/ranches, will be weaved throughout a day in their lives, with their families, a conversation about their connections to the land and why they are making the choices they are making. The characters will be the guides to tell their own stories.
WHY THIS SERIES AND WHY NOW
In the US, 14 percent of the public hold climate fatalist views and another 20 percent are pessimistic about our ability to do something about climate change. When you throw in political divides, the outlook becomes more troubling. A 2016 Pew Research Center survey found that people who identify themselves as conservative share a deep mistrust of climate scientists. This means that simply throwing more evidence at these audiences is not going to narrow the divide.
What’s missing from the media coverage of climate change is an emphasis on solutions and how small solutions can add up to big impact. Also missing are characters that share a common set of values and background with the people we are trying to reach. This is a critical component of moving the climate conversations beyond our silos. A study by P. Sol Hart and Erik Nisbet published in Communication Research found that people are more likely to believe information when it comes from others who are like them. This means farmers and ranchers are the communicators and change agents we need. To our knowledge, no climate series has proposed to approach and test communication in the way of The Mad Farmer.
We want to reach farmers and ranchers through stories that highlight people like them, who share common values and lifestyles, and who have agency in rural agricultural communities. Our films will provide a platform to share innovative and regenerative agricultural practices beyond the few farmers and ranchers who are implementing them today. Ag communities play a key role in implementing climate solutions and at the same time, supporting rural communities, creating food security, and growing local food systems - these are also key for the climate and environmental movements to succeed.
Nine 9-minute long videos, each following a farmer or rancher in the US as they implement innovative practices on their land, build back their soil health, and create a more sustainable operation
An interactive map covering a range of geographies and agricultural practices and resources for those locales
A carbon farming planning guide to help new farmers and ranchers implement the same practices as those highlighted in the films
A tour across rural US screening these films in farm and ranch communities
Partnerships with local conservation districts and ag extension offices to share these stories and the carbon farm planning resource