Five Farms: Stories from American Farm Families

Series produced by The Center for Documentary Studies

Caption: Craig Griffieon of Ankeny, Iowa, Credit: Elena Rue
Image by: Elena Rue 
Craig Griffieon of Ankeny, Iowa 

A series of five one-hour programs following five farm families through a year of their work and their lives. The farms are in New England, the South, the Midwest, the high desert West, and northern California. The programs are hosted by John Biewen of CDS but mostly narrated by members of the families themselves.

Five Farms puts a personal face on the lives and livelihoods of farmers across the country. We get to know people who work hard and make considerable sacrifices, but who also flourish, and for whom the benefits, including a deep understanding of the land they work, are rich. Through their own voices and direct experiences, we learn details of farming life and get to know members of each family --- their personal struggles, triumphs, hopes, dreams, and challenges. We learn what it takes to farm and produce the food that we count on when we go to the market.

The locations for the Five Farms series were carefully chosen to reflect the agricultural, cultural, historic, and geographic diversity of farming in America. They are in western Massachusetts, North Carolina, Iowa, California's Capay Valley, and the Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona. Beginning in March 2008, field producers and photographers in each of the locations recorded farmers' stories over the course of a yearlong cycle of seasons.

The five one-hour episodes move chronologically through the year and also through key themes in the lives of these farmers:

Hour One: Planting
Hour Two: Nurturing
Hour Three: Stewardship
Hour Four: Harvest
Hour Five: Succession

Five Farms is produced by Wesley Horner Productions and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University in collaboration with WFCR Amherst, Massachusetts; Iowa Public Radio; Native Public Media/National Federation of Community Broadcasters; The Hopi Foundation; and Capital Public Radio, Sacramento.
Hide full description

Five Farms puts a personal face on the lives and livelihoods of farmers across the country. We get to know people who work hard and make considerable sacrifices, but who also flourish, and for whom the benefits, including a deep understanding of the land they work, are rich. Through their own voices and direct experiences, we learn details of farming life and get to know members of each family --- their personal struggles, triumphs, hopes, dreams, and challenges. We learn what it takes to farm and produce the food that we count on when we go to the market. The locations for the Five Farms series were carefully chosen to reflect the agricultural, cultural, historic, and geographic diversity of farming in America. They are in western Massachusetts, North Carolina, Iowa, California's... Show full description


5 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
Caption: Craig Griffieon of Ankeny, Iowa, Credit: Elena Rue
Spring planting on the family farm is the time of the annual gamble --- on the alchemies of nature, on the health of livestock, on future fall harv...

Bought by WEKU, KBGA 89.9 FM, KFOK-LP, KWMR, KZYX and more


  • Added: Jun 06, 2011
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 11
Caption: Eddie Wise, Whitakers, N.C., Credit: Tom Rankin
Early summer is a time of long days on the family farm, perfect for nurturing crops and animals as they approach the peak of growing season. Nurtur...

Bought by WEKU, KBGA 89.9 FM, KFOK-LP, KWMR, WSKG and more


  • Added: Jun 06, 2011
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 11
Caption: Sherry Hager, Colrain, Mass., Credit: Steve Schapiro
Stewardship focuses on the daily choices farming families make to preserve their land, water, and air --- the fundamentals of farming. During mid-s...

Bought by KBGA 89.9 FM, KFOK-LP, KWMR, WRPI, KZYX and more


  • Added: Jun 06, 2011
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 10
Caption: Jeff and Annie Main, Capay, Cal., Credit: Alix Lowrey Blair
Autumn is harvest time. That means Iowa corn and soybeans; fruit dried in the California sun; greens, beans, and potatoes; slaughtered hogs and bee...

Bought by 90.5 WSNC, KBGA 89.9 FM, KFOK-LP, WMMT, WRVO and more


  • Added: Jun 06, 2011
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
Caption: David Pecusa, Third Mesa, Hopi Nation, Credit: Andrew Lewis
For each of the families of Five Farms, the question looms large: Who will take over the farm? Succession features the next generation --- the youn...

Bought by KFOK-LP, WRPI, KBGA 89.9 FM, KWMR, KZYX and more


  • Added: Jun 06, 2011
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 11