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Broken Limbs
Apples, Agriculture, and the New American Farmer

Looks at the plight of apple growers in the age of globalization, and points the way to sustainable US agriculture.

A printer-friendly version of this page 57 minutes
Produced by Jamie Howell and Guy Evans

"Broken Limbs is a very accurate and moving description of what is happening to agriculture in America." - Fred Kirschenmann, Director, Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University, organic farmer
Wenatchee, Washington, the "Apple Capital of the World"; this pastoral valley in the heart of the Northwest prospered for nearly a century as home to the famed Washington apple. But the good times have vanished. Apple orchardists by the thousands are going out of business and thousands more await the dreaded letter from the bank, announcing the end of their livelihoods and a uniquely American way of life.

After his own father receives just such a letter, filmmaker Guy Evans sets out on a journey to find out what went wrong here in this natural Garden of Eden. Over the course of filming, Evans witnesses small farmers struggling to compete against the Goliaths that populate today's global economy, only to be ultimately forced off their land. The future looks grim for the Apple Capital until Evans happens upon an entirely new breed of farmer, practitioners of a new model called "sustainable agriculture".

BROKEN LIMBS explores these hopeful stirrings within agriculture, outlining ways in which any individual can play a role in saving America's farmers.

Grade Level: 7-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2004     Copyright Date: 2004
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-042-1     VHS ISBN: 1-59458-029-4

"Inspiring and powerful...[Broken Limbs] is cutting new ground in terms of where agriculture in this state, country and the world needs to go."
Rev. Paul Benz, Director, State Public Policy Office of Evangelical Lutheran Church

"Broken Limbs is a powerful film that, using humor and drama, gives viewers a lot to think about in this increasingly globalized world we live in...What works in this film is its intellectual honesty and the sense of hope that is its underlying message."
Rufus Woods, Editor and Publisher, The Wenatchee World

"Broken Limbs is a very accurate and moving description of what is happening to agriculture in America. Focused on apple growers in Washington State, the story reflects what is happening to hog producers in Iowa, citrus growers in Florida and dairy farmers in New York. The video offers a ray of hope---the 'new farmers' who add value to their production and retain more of that value on the farm by producing the quality, attributes and services that a growing number of food customers want. A moving and compelling story."
Fred Kirschenmann, Ph.D., Director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University and a North Dakota grain and livestock farmer

"Broken Limbs is amazing, excellent, and on the mark...The entire group was enchanted by this film... the first half of 'bad news' was terrifically and delightfully offset by the second half of the film which focuses on solutions and alternatives to traditional style farming."
Michelle Frain, The Rodale Institute

"Broken Limbs will break your heart with its images of the sad plight of the independent American farmer being forced off the land by the global economic machine. But then, it will begin to heal your heart with its stories of new small scale farmers who are living well, low to the ground with a vision of a sustainable agricultural future."
Sam Keen, filmmaker, author

"Broken Limbs can well serve to demonstrate that sustainable ag 'socializes' responsibility in the food system among all participants, while industrial ag 'socializes' environmental and community costs onto society but jealously retains responsibility only for financial rewards."
Brad Redlin, Center for Rural Affairs

"This insightful documentary works through how agriculture is changing. It's a personal story for filmmaker Guy Evans...[b]ut the film's concerns affect us all. When Evans begins his inquiry, he is pushed toward accepting as inevitable the trends that squeeze the small-to-mid-size farmers, leaving only the largest, most globalized and vertically integrated or, maybe, a few of the smallest, niche-market producers. Evans captures the waste and sorrow this entails...But as Evans keeps searching, he finds another trend that, with nurturing, may offer hope - sustainable agriculture. It requires we reformulate decision-making so that the overall, long-term quality of life, land, and food become the defining terms. This can only be done when the farmer and the consumer understand how they are connected to each other. Starting in Washington State, Evans has examples around him. Farmers markets and produce stands abound in the Seattle area and beyond. For much of the rest of the country, the trend has weaker roots fornow, but its where we should be heading."
Deborah Popper, Co-author of The Great Plains: From Dust to Dust, Associate Professor of Geography at CUNY's College of Staten Island

"This is a poetic, lyrical film with excellent visuals of the land, appropriate musical soundtrack, and soft voiced narration. Environmental studies, science, and current events classes can utilize this film and be challenged to live with hope for the future and believe that 'one by one we change the world.'"
Patricia Ann Owens, School Library Journal

"If you're looking for a video to provide background information and be the springboard for a group discussion about agricultural issues [Broken Limbs is] worth considering... I can imagine this video being shown to church classes or social justice groups and being the impetus for a church or home becoming the drop-off site for a CSA operation or meat producer."
Dana Jackson, The Land Stewardship Letter

"Provides a vivid example of how agribusiness and world trade practices have disasterously impacted family farming of apple orchards...[a] strongly recommended addition to school, college, and community library collections."
Midwest Book Review

"The production elements of Broken Limbs are excellent. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in agriculture. Broken Limbs presents a refreshing look at ways that farmers can survive and even thrive without becoming bogged down in discussing the often depressing outlook for the future of the family farm."
Educational Media Reviews Online

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DVD Features
Special Features include Spanish version (subtitles), full keynote address by Dr. John Ikerd, more from farmer Grant Gibbs, directors' commentary and -- on the DVD-ROM portion of the disc -- both the teacher's guide and viewer's guide plus the Buy Local Challenge.

Broken Limbs web site
Viewer's Guide in PDF format
The works of Dr. John Ikerd
Local Harvest's website
Slow Food's website
Study guide

Awards and Festivals
The Chris Statuette, Columbus International Film & Video Festival
Honorable Mention, Rural Route Film Festival
Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival
The Conscientious Projector Film Festival
Siskiyou Environmental Film Festival
Vermont International Film Festival
Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival
Port Townsend Film Festival
Marin Environmental Film Festival
Environmental Media Awards
Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival
Our Island, Our World Film Festival, Salt Spring Island, Canada
American Conservation Film Festival

American Studies
Business Practices
Local Economies

Sustainable Agriculture
Western US

Related Titles

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My Father's Garden
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Beyond Organic
A model of community supported agriculture in the midst of suburban sprawl.

Deconstructing Supper
A leading chef investigates food safety in the age of GMOs and industrial agriculture.

Valley at the Crossroads
The battle over sprawl in California's Central Valley, where 50% of America's fruits, nuts, and vegetables are grown.

The Trade Trap
Ghanaian farmers struggle to get a foothold in the international market.

Cultivating Opportunity
Hard-pressed farmers in the southeast US and in Mozambique find co-ops work.

Food for Thought
Presents the environmental effects of eating meat.

Cultivating Change
Garden tour that proves that growing food can be an avenue to social change.

Field of Genes
The effects of the biotechnology revolution on farmers and consumers.

Global Gardener
Permaculture helps people turn wastelands into food forests.

Big Spuds, Little Spuds
The impact of climate change and monoculture on one of the world's staple food crops.

Circle of Plenty
John Jeavons demonstrates biointensive agriculture as a way to alleviate world hunger.

Economics and its relation to social change and our lifestyles.

The Seattle Syndrome
Were the WTO protesters right in their effort to protect workers and the environment from exploitation?

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