Newsletter – March 2014

Newsletter – March 2014



Great Success in Midwest
Film, farmers, friends and veterans
Busting the Midwestern Myth

I don’t know about you, but when I think of Midwest farming, I think of unending fields of waving GMO corn and countless CAFOs (“confined animal feeding operations” = factory farmed pigs).  And that certainly exists.

But who knew that there was such a stalwart group of thousands of organic farmers bravely bucking the odds of “conventional” agriculture in the Heartland? In spite of this brutal Midwest winter, they all gathered at MOSES in Wisconsin last weekend — and Ground Operations: Battlefields to Farmfields was there. Thanks to all of you whose financial and networking support helped us get to MOSES. It was a great success. 
People were excited and engaged about how to grow good old-fashioned organic food.
 There were dozens of workshops and two floors of exhibit booths. Babies on the hips of young couples, earnest students, longtime farm families and Amish elders filled huge ballrooms to capacity and then some. Anna Lappe spoke about farming and climate change, the topic of her new book Diet for a Hot Planet. 

Mark Shephard, author of Restoration Agriculture: Real-World Permaculture for Farmers, delighted the crowd with, “I’m an organic farmer. Heck, I’m not afraid of change. I AM the change!”

Ground Operations screened twice and we shared an exhibit booth with the Farmer Veteran Coalition.

A new Iowa state chapter of FVC is headed up by Ed Cox, a former Coast Guard officer, now a food & farming attorney.  We spoke with hundreds of people about this synergy of opportunities for communities with veterans in agriculture.

Road trip!!

We met with half a dozen farming & veteran non-profits to start organizing the Midwest Summer Film Tour for July, 2014.  So send suggestions in for good venues, places to stay, great local food and farms, especially veteran-operated farms, ranches or artisan foods.

A story to lift your heart:

A beautiful young woman with an infant cradled on her chest, stood in the back of the screening with her Mom. We spoke after the film. She said she’d cried throughout the film because it hit home so strongly. Her husband, a Marine who worked point with his dog – searching for bombs and land mines – returned from Iraq with 90% disability from TBI (traumatic brain injury) and PTSD. They moved back to her parents farm to live, where her husband spends every day in the field with the horses. That’s where he likes to be. They don’t know what to do to move forward, but the film gave her ideas.

She, baby and mother all showed up at our booth in the morning.  They realized they could use the farm for family camping trips for other veteran families to wind down. We talked about ways to collaborate with local sporting goods stores to provide tents and some gear, Rotary or Moose Lodges to provide some seed money for marketing. We spoke of family time and stories round the campfire, one campfire for the veterans and one for the spouses, after the kids bed down. We talked of more veterans hanging out in the field with her husband and their horses.  They left for home, replacing tears with a gleam of possibilities in their eyes.

Veteran-led community farm:

I met Steve Acheson and his buddy Todd, who are both active members of Veterans for Peace and proud new owners of Peacefully Organic Produce, a veteran-led community farm outside Madison, Wisconsin.  Steve spoke after the film about how the stories in Ground Ops were his story. After two deployments to Iraq and images that haunt him, it was difficult to return to college with young kids. Both Steve and Todd graduated with degrees in engineering but decided that they both preferred to farm. They got a miraculous deal leasing organic land; and pulling three other buddies in with them, have got the farm ship-shape and producing.  We will do a fundraiser screening with them this summer to support their young business.

It’s who you know …

Social media and email will never replace face-to-face relationship building. I was so pleased to be able to spend time with the following groups to begin lining up the Midwest film tour:

  •     Iowa Farmer  Veteran Coalition at Drake University
  •     Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture
  •     Women Food & Ag Network
  •     Farm Aid
  •     Food & Water Watch
  •     Growing Healthy People & Lake County College
  •     Sustainable Farming Assoc. Of Minnesota
Sponsorship for the 24-City National Tour    
Join the Mission & Share the VisionThe spring and summer schedules are 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 as a catalyst to engage communities to roll up their sleeves, be good neighbors to returning veterans and help them rebuild local food systems that nourish both people and planet.

We invite you to join us in this most satisfying work with a donation, a suggestion or a connection!

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

Dulanie Ellis & Raymond Singer, Producers
206 So. Blanche St., Ojai, CA 93023
The whole Ground Operations team





12 Noon
D.C. Environmental Film Festival




6:00 pm
Tidewater Community College in Virginia Beach




7:00 pm
Beach Movie Bistro in Virginia Beach



Screening Events

Ground Operations combines delicious food, local veterans speaking and a film screening. We’re raising funds to support the national network of vets in sustainable farming, ranching & artisan food production.




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