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Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

Free Film Series Explores the Future of Farming: The Up Up! Farm Festival in Lower Hudson Valley

The Up Up! Farm Festival, a collection of 20 independently produced films and shorts illustrating the unique successes and challenges of small farming today, is now showing in the Lower Hudson Valley as a yearlong series of free screenings in Dobbs Ferry, Ossining and Yonkers, NY. The festival launched in November and will run through October 2016.

The festival is sponsored by Grow Local Film Series (see sidebar), a partnership of community groups with a shared vision of nurturing vibrant local communities while promoting sustainable living. The partnership includes Down to Earth Farmers Markets, the Masters School, Greenburgh Hebrew Center, Greyston Foundation, Groundwork Hudson Valley, the Greenhorns, and Roots & Wings. Each partner organization will host several films throughout the year and lead a discussion after.

Each film or short in the Up Up! Farm collection explores questions of farmland access, rural livelihoods and the relationships between people and place. Together, the 20 films paint a broad picture. The collection was designed by the Greenhorns in cooperation with each filmmaker.

Upcoming films include Root Hog or Die, showing December 10 at 7:30 p.m. at South Presbyterian Church in Dobbs Ferry, and The Greenhorns, showing December 19 at 7:15 p.m. at the Greenburgh Hebrew Center in Dobbs Ferry. The full schedule and details are available at

Gabriela Munoz and Mark Pennington, the organizers of this film series, are on the steering committee of Roots & Wings, whose community garden supplies fresh produce to the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry. Munoz says her interest in sustainable agriculture led her to the Up Up! Farm Festival—a series that has been shown this year by institutions ranging from Washington State’s San Juan Islands Ag Guild to Rhode Island’s Brown University.

“More and more people are choosing alternatives to the industrial agriculture model and rediscovering the benefits of fresh, local, sustainably produced food—of eating in synch with nature, having a relationship with our farmers, and bringing new life and vibrancy to our local communities,” she says.

The Up Up! Farm collection offers fresh and varied perspectives on the concepts of food, farming and what’s best for a society, she says.

“These films provide a window into the lives of farmers, their plights and triumphs,” she says. “I hope as we think about our food—something we can all relate to—we also start recognizing there is an even deeper theme here. I think it’s time we ditch our society’s current, utilitarian ‘bottom line’ of narrowly defined efficiency and profit maximization. It is long overdue to start prioritizing and maximizing everybody’s well-being. I trust that these films will help us see this reality and inspire us to act for a more just and sane society in general, and to make healthy, affordable food and fair conditions for farmers the norm rather than the exception.”

For more about the Up Up! Farm Festival or Grow Local Film Series, visit

Like-Minded Community Groups Host Film Series

Mark Pennington, an organizer of the Up Up! Farm Festival, says the event’s sponsor, Grow Local Film Series, is always looking for new community groups to join its effort. “We would love to include other like-minded partners,” he says. “If it’s a good fit for your group, please contact gro[email protected]

Currently, Grow Local Film Series is run by seven local organizations:

Down to Earth Farmers Markets ( curates and manages farmers’ markets in Westchester and Rockland Counties as well as NYC. Its members envision a strong regional food system built by independent farms and food businesses, providing everyone with an alternative to industrial food.

Greenburgh Hebrew Center ( is an inclusive, egalitarian, participatory Jewish congregation located in central Westchester County. They welcome singles and families, including interfaith and nontraditional families, to join with them as they celebrate, learn and perform tikkun olam—social action to repair the world.

The Greenhorns ( is a grassroots organization that works to support new farmers in America. They focus on event organizing, in-person networking, mixers, celebrations and workshops as well as the production of traditional and new media.

Greyston Foundation ( provides individuals in Southwest Yonkers with employment skills and resources to lift them out of poverty.

Groundwork Hudson Valley ( works to make neglected neighborhoods more livable and sustainable through an array of on-the-ground environmental projects that directly involve local residents.

The Masters School ( celebrates active participation, deep understanding and meaningful connection to be a power for good in the world.

Roots & Wings (, the sustainable living initiative of South Presbyterian Church of Greenburgh, follows the principles of permaculture: “peoplecare, earthcare and fairshare.” Its public gardens are the focal point of its many outreach efforts nurturing spiritual journeys and offering practical steps to a sustainable lifestyle.