‘In one’s lifetime, you might need a solicitor once or twice, a doctor once a month, but you need a farmer three times a day.’ Organic farmer Gerald’s passionate plea for a renewed respect for those who have been ‘our bread and butter for centuries’, is indicative of a workforce who feel forgotten, undervalued and ploughed over in our current situation.
Through stunning visuals, In Our Hands takes us into the fields and to the front-line, to meet the growing network of people who are trying to restore a system crushed by the industrial food model. As society reaches for convenience, small scale farmers are struggling to survive, and any dialogue which we once had between producer and consumer has disappeared. This film shows the effort to rebuild the shattered relationship between the people, food and the land, here in the UK.
In Our Hands was commissioned by the Landworkers’ Alliance (LWA), a union of small scale ecological producers who are campaigning for a better agricultural system. Yet the tone is not didactic, nor are we hammered with a bulletin of policy proposals. Instead, the narratives of real people are woven into the broader picture of a broken food culture, and the pressing need to remedy it.
At the core of the film is an effort to expose the ‘myth’ that the industrialisation of food production is an effective and necessary response to a growing demand. On the contrary, the film explores how it is detrimental to our health, the environment and our communities. The majority of the global seed market is owned by two companies, and put simply, it is not safe for things to be in such a small set of hands.
As it turns out, small scale producers actually provide 70% of the world’s food. This fact underpins the film, and when plated up alongside the image of the struggling farmer, the question is raised as to where it is all going wrong.
There is a danger here of creating heroes and villains; of romanticising the land worker and vilifying government bodies, supermarkets, and the ignorant consumer. The attempt to moderate such finger pointing is played out in the scene of an LWA sit-in, where happy protesters hand out pamphlets whilst leisurely lunching on a selection of ecological produce outside The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The timeliness of this film is emphasised, and it is brought to light that in our Post-Brexit climate the landscape of our agricultural policy is changing, and in order to move towards a fairer, healthier and more sustainable food system, we need everyone at the table. It is with this inclusive thinking that the film was created as an open source tool available to everyone, and leaves us optimistic about ‘spreading the seed’ and the vision for change.
By Jessie Coleman