DURANGO HERALD - Aug 22, '07


"Heart and Soil" documentary celebrates local food and farmers. By Karla Sluis.

A few generations ago, most people knew how to produce dinner from seeds and animals, today not so much.

"One hundred years ago, everyone was self-sufficient with cows, a garden,chickens" said a farmer in a new Durango area documentary.  "Now we depend on 90 percent of our food being shipped in, and that has changed the face of agriculture."

Following growing interest in "localvore" eating habits, Durango filmmaker Mara LeGrand hopes to re-educate people about the origins of dinner.  Her documentary "Heart & Soil" centers on the importance of buying and growing local food.  It shows the landscape and lives of farmers in the Southwest, along with farmers markets and farm to school programs.

The project began as a simple local TV piece on the Durango Farmer's Market.  After LeGrand began going behind the scenes at the farms, she discovered more.

"There was so much to learn and see" she said.  "The farmers here aren't country bumpkins.  They are wise and guirky and informed. There's a lot of awareness and collective consciousness."

A promotional clip of the film showed many scenes and people Duragoans may recognize. Including shots of the Durango Farmers Market.  Jeff Mannix with his longhorn cattle, and farmers working at Regional Agricultural Supply.

"I'm not going to get rich growing food" said a RAS farmer in one clip. "It's just the right thing to do."

The film will be shown as a sneak preview Sunday to honor local farmers.  LeGrand said.  It's not a true premiere because she is working to get the documentary into "green" film festivals and recoup the $20,000 and 14 months spent filming.  The film "may have a life in the education system, after the festivals," she said.

The film touches on topics that are controversial in modern agriculture, such as water rights, shipping methods that burn fossil fuels and corporate livestock farms.  But LeGrand said she worked to keep the tone positive.

"I want to support community and not create divisions.  I don't want cattle ranchers who have been here for generations to be perceived as villains."

LeGrand, a resident for 16 years, formerly owned an Ayurvedic health retreat in town with a holistic approach to nutrition.  Her background frames a personal view of farming.  "I think the film shows small-scale, sustainable farms as the answer to a changing industry.  People in the film speak about how the land is generous, how they're connected to the plants, how farms are a cycle of life."

LeGrand, a former photojournalist, said making "Heart & Soil" was a challenge.  "Video is different." It's about getting audio right, and there was a lot to pay attention to.  You think about snapping pictures,but you have to hold the camera longer to capture the full range of expressions. But the film is not just talking heads.  There's lots of lively activity."

LeGrand also has done screenwriting and helped other people create films.  She went through the documentary process on a fukn she was a writer and public health worker on in Nepal.  The  film explored an East-meets West approach to food, herbs and medicine.

"Heart & Soil" took on a life of it's own for LeGrand.

I came from a background of nutrition and the helping people restore their health through the nourishment and healing power, nature brings.  But I didn't know I was going to make a film about that.  It just evolved.  I think when we're paying attention, we are called to do things."

Sneak Preview. The local-food documentary "Heart and Soil" will be shown at 6:30p.m.  sunday at the Smiley Theatre, 1309 East Third Ave. in Durango.  There will be a panel of local speakers after the film.  Tickets.........

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