Newsletter – November 2013

Newsletter – November 2013


For the farmers who bring the harvest to our tables!
Veterans Day in the Nation’s Capitol
What a week!  We started at the National Institute of Food & Agriculture (USDA), screening for about 80-100 staff. We met Calvin Riggleman (center below) of Bigg Rigg Farm who joined our panel after the film.
Sonny Ramaswamy, Me, Calvin Riggleman, Michael O’Gorman, Gary Matteson, Brent ElrodWhen Calvin says his family’s been farming in West Virginia for a long time, he’s talking about a LONG time, like since before the American Revolution! Calvin joined the Marines right out of high school since his grandparents were paying the same $5 an hour to tend the fruit orchards that he’d made for years.  While in Iraq, his buddies told him he could make a lot more money growing vegetables for farmers market (he’d never heard of them). But when he returned, he negotiated an acre from his grandpa, grew veggies and made money.  He planted a second acre.  Then the Marines called again, and again Calvin answered the call and returned to Iraq. But he was phoning home with planting schedules to keep things rolling.  After his second deployment, he took the abundance of fruit from the orchards to the local certified kitchen and made up jams, rather than rely on the fruit stand for sales.  He made more money. Enough money to soon buy the certified kitchen … and another 85 acres.  Now he helps over 100 other farms make value-added products and sells his produce at five farmers market, including the one at the White House.  You can’t stop a Marine!
On to the House of Representatives
We were fortunate to have Elizabeth Kucinich at the Center for Food Safety as our hostess for two screenings and panel discussions to follow. We featured two veteran speakers. First, D’Artagnan Scorza (in the film), a Navy vet told about his non-profit’s effort to turn around the diet-related diseases in his community by helping residents develop 100 vegetable gardens and fruit orchards.  Buck Adams of Veterans to Farmers shared his work training vets in hydroponic vegetable production and his current project to develop a 10,000 s.f. greenhouse for a national training center.  Coach Smallwood, the Rodale Institute, shared the program they’re doing with the Veterans Organic Farm Program at Delaware Valley College, part classroom work, part hands-on fieldwork. Jenny Materio from the Farm Credit Council reported their collaboration with the Farmer Veteran Coalition to lend farming financial support and I pulled up the rear with an overview of what’s happening nationally — and the need to pass a Farm Bill that supports the Beginning Farmer & Rancher program and other provisions that will support our veterans to grow healthy food for us all.   40 Congressional offices have asked for DVDs!

Green Friday beats Black Friday
You don’t have to leave the comfort of your couch to order these holiday gifts! Support our work and gift someone (or yourself) with a DVD… or several! Are you a golfer or a gardener? Choose our stylin’ cotton-twill Ground Ops hat. How about an uber-soft and comfy 100% organic cotton t-shirt? Or you might simply want to honor someone with a holiday donation given in their name (tax-deductible for you, of course).  A simple click on our website and Santa’s flying in with goodies. We will mail the gift or donation gift-card to anywhere in the United States if you drop us an email when you order.

A “Pig Pull” at a Georgia Centennial Farm
Matthew & Althea Raiford (in the film) have been raising heritage breed hogs and Ground Ops was there to share in deliciousness of their first public event at Gilliard Farm.  A “pig pull” is when you put a huge haunch of pork in the smoker, let it slow cook for several hours and lay it down on a table for people to pick at — along with buttermilk biscuits, herbed carrots and turnips, some snappy pickles and wash it all down with some Muscadine wine spritzers.  Slow Food USA had a rep there, Atlanta’s chef Jennifer and Chef Matthew did the honors and whole bunch of hungry people were satiated in time to watch the movie outside and slap a few November mosquitos, still hungry themselves!

BIG NEWS:  Homegrown by Heroes label to roll out!
Announced on Veterans Day, the Farmer Veteran Coalition will be working with the state of Kentucky to expand what was a statewide label into a national brand. This means eaters like you and me will be able to identify and buy veteran-grown crops and support them in a real dollars-and-cents way, to grow their businesses.

Sponsorship for the 24-City National Tour    
Join the Mission & Share the VisionThe Spring schedule is lining up.  While some screenings pay for themselves through ticket sales, many of our outreach efforts are to schools, governmental agencies (such as our Washington DC events) or military, and we bear the costs. Our national campaign uses the film to engage communities to roll up their sleeves, be good neighbors to returning veterans and help them build local food systems that nourish both people and planet. If you, or someone you know, might want to participate with (tax deductible) funding for this project, we will be happy to send you our Sponsorship Opportunities Proposal, either online or hard copy.
  • Be a local hero, sponsor screenings for a farm, a city or state
  • Scholarship a free military base screening 
  • Enjoy shout-outs and branding opportunities
  • Join in the fun with good food, film and farmer-veterans

Thank you for helping us to create a more just, sustainable and delicious world,

Dulanie Ellis & Raymond Singer, Producers
The whole Ground Operations team





Time TBA
MOSES: Midwest Organic Farming Conference




Time TBA
D.C. Environmental Film Festival




Time TBA
Furman University & Edible Upcountry


Comments are closed.