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Arlington Farmers Market brings 'Fresh' to Olympic Theater
ARLINGTON — The Olympic Theater shined a spotlight on the farming industry with its Saturday, May 26, screening of "Fresh," a 2009 documentary highlighting the differences between industrialized farming practices versus those of more local, organic, family-owned farms.
Audrey Houston, Samantha Schuler and Mark Lovejoy of the Arlington Farmers Market organized the screening and were heartened by the turnout they garnered at 11 a.m. on the sunny Saturday of this year's Memorial Day weekend, with Houston laughing as she admitted that she briefly hoped for rain to drive more people indoors.
"We also wanted this to be an opportunity for people to meet the farmers in their area among the attendees, because we're very lucky in the number of great family farms we have here locally," Schuler said.
With only a 70-minute run time, "Fresh" briskly cycles through interviews with a variety of experts in the farming field, including those who have started community co-ops, to point out how many standard practices of industrialized farming will be unsustainable in the long run, both ecologically and economically, according to those experts.
Among the subjects addressed in the film are how concentrated breeding of single species of plants and animals leaves them more susceptible to infections, in addition to requiring more expensive infrastructure and procedures, as well as producing greater amounts of waste that's harder to convert into resources for farming itself.
"Seeing this and thinking about it can change the ways in which we grow food," said Lovejoy, who runs the Garden Treasures Nursery & Organic Farm on State Route 530 east of I-5, and has coordinated the Arlington Farmers Market since 2007. "I'm grateful to Audrey and Samantha for the passion they've brought to the table, because I don't have the time to do marketing and outreach like this. I'm a guy who grew up in Arlington and watched our local farms start to disappear, and I don't want to live in a community without its own farms."
Local farmers Bill and Lisa Pierce joined Lovejoy in thanking Houston and Schuler for "stepping up" to present the film.
"I enjoy living in a community that cares this much," Bill Pierce said.
Houston touted one of the advantages of family farms as being the degree to which farmers and consumers can connect with each other on a more personal level, and echoed Schuler's assessment that one of the strengths of "Fresh" is its non-accusatory tone.
"It's not about squabbling over who caused these problems," Schuler said. "This field can get pretty polarized, but the film's approach is more inclusive. It simply says, 'This is the system that we have now, and it's not working, so let's look at some systems that can work.'"
Jason and Jodi Hopkins took time out of their warm Saturday morning to take their 9-year-old daughter Mary with them to the Olympic Theater, and all three left the screening feeling enlightened, not to mention carrying an organic gardening basket that they'd won as a raffle prize.
"It made me appreciate our local farmers so much more," said Jodi Hopkins, whose family maintains their own garden, and even raises chickens. "If not for local farmers like the Lovejoys, we wouldn't have access to fresh food."
"I've never seen anything like that," Mary Hopkins said. "When you see everything that happens to your food, and where the beef you eat comes from, it changes your opinions about a lot of stuff."
"You can have food without hurting the Earth," Jodi Hopkins said. "I loved when they showed how happy the little chicks were on the family farm, as opposed to the chickens who were miserable being cooped up together so close. It's part of why we buy local."
The Arlington Farmers Market starts on July 7, and runs Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Sept. 1 at 200 North Olympic Ave. Their website is http://arlingtonfarmersmarket.blogspot.com. For more information on "Fresh," log onto www.freshthemovie.com.