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“Persistence” Mini-Documentary Highlights Midwestern Producers of Uncommon Fruit and Nut Crops

A new mini-documentary featuring Midwestern fruit and nut producers has just been released by the Savanna Institute, North Central Region SARE, and the UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS). Entitled “Persistence: Midwestern Farmers and their Uncommon Crops”, the fifteen-minute documentary explores the challenges, delights, and motivations of perennial fruit and nut producers in the Midwest. The film was produced with the support of a SARE Research and Education grant, and is currently available on the Savanna Institute’s YouTube channel and Facebook page. Video produced by Anders Gurda at Windborne Media LLC, a Michael Fields Board Member.

“You are choosing a life, and it can be a good life,” says Jackie Hoch, one of the farmers featured in the film. “My bank account, at many times, doesn’t look very good. But I’ve lived a life that I can be proud of. I’ve lived a life that I like.”

The film features interviews with several farmers throughout the upper Midwest and includes footage of their farms and products. Appearing in the film are:
• Jackie Hoch – Hoch Orchard and Gardens, La Crescent, Minnesota
• Tom Wahl and Kathy Dice – Red Fern Farm, Wapello, Iowa
• Michael Dolan – Seven Seeds Organic Farm, Spring Green, Wisconsin
• Jim Riddle – Blue Fruit Farm, Winona, Minnesota
• Wandy Peralta – Branches and Berries, Wauzeka, Wisconsin
• Rachel Henderson and Anton Ptak – Mary Dirty Face Farm, Menomonie, Wisconsin

The featured farmers participated in a panel discussion following the debut of the documentary at the Savanna Institute’s 2018 Perennial Farm Gathering in December. The documentary was also screened at the 2019 MOSES Organic Farming Conference.