farming

Worth Watching

Worth Watching: Upstate NY Dairy Farms


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This is a series of videos from the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council profiling Upstate New York dairy farms, created to educate inner-city school kids about where their milk and yogurt comes from. I especially like that two of them feature women farmers.



Multimedia, Visual Journalism, Worth Watching

Worth Watching: Eric Seals


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This weekend I was at the NPPA‘s Northern Short Course Conference in Warwick, RI. My favorite sessions were led by Detriot Free Press visual journalist Eric Seals, who is pioneering new ways to create really creative, thoughtful video stories.

This is a short spot from a documentary he’s working on following a group of divers in Michigan who are exploring shipwrecks on the Great Lakes. Not only is it a really beautiful story, but the underwater GoPro shots are amazing.
Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 9.24.14 AM

This is a feature story from the Detroit Free Press about the long-term emotional harms faced by Michigan cattle farmers due to PBB contamination over 40 years ago.

Hopped Upstate, Uncategorized, WAKE Projects

Hopped Upstate in the Utica Observer-Dispatch


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“Leslie Von Pless believes social change is best captured on film. And one of the faster growing issues she’s latched on to? Hops, and the people who grow them…The 15-minute film mostly features Dave Pasick and his wife Kayla of Szaro Farms, who fell into hops growing when they discovered the flower-like cones used to bitter and flavor beer  creeping up the side of a barn on their Schuyler property.”

Read the full article here and check out more press from the film’s release!

Documentary, Hopped Upstate, Multimedia, WAKE Projects

Hopped Upstate: Launching the Film!


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I’m very excited to launch the full HOPPED UPSTATE film today. I spent the last 8 months traveling around Upstate NY, collecting stories from some really wonderful brewers and farmers who are working hard to start new ventures in hopes to do what they love for a living and contribute to revitalizing their home state.

Watch it below and visit the HOPPED UPSTATE page to learn more about the film, find production stills and additional footage.

[vimeo 75160196 w=640 h=360]
Hopped Upstate, Multimedia, WAKE Projects

Hopped Upstate: Starting from Scratch


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Last weekend I headed to Munnsville, NY to interview Steve Miller of Cornell Cooperative Extension at Foothill Farms. Steve is the resident NYS hops specialist and is doing a ton of work across the state to bring information to new hop farmers. He’s the founder of the Northeast Hop Alliance and he started the “GeoHopping” project that is tracking the varieties and locations of wild hops in New York.

Steve told me that in the last few years, we’ve gone from having just about 15 acres total of hops growing in the state to over 130 acres today. That’s still not much, but the interest is booming and new hop yards are popping up all over. Despite the heritage of hops farming in NYS, today they are basically a brand new crop and every farmer is starting from scratch to grow them.

I also stopped at Szaro Farms in Utica for an update with Dave Pasick. He strung wire on new poles he put in and told me about the research he’s been doing on funding opportunities through Empire State Development’s one-stop shop for the beverage industry. Lots of questions remain for him as far as qualifying for grants since his farm hasn’t been in production for many decades. For now, Dave is learning as he goes and doing what he can to keep expanding his hop yard.

Multimedia, Web Video

Faces of Farm-to-Table


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As I continue with my hops farming and craft brewing video project, I’ve been doing a ton of research on food, farming, and sustainable agriculture – and the people behind it – as profiled via video. One of my favorite series I’ve found so far is Food. Curated. by Liza de Guia.

Today she debuted her latest story, from the Bell & Anchor farm-to-table restaurant in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. It encompasses exactly how I feel about living in Brooklyn right now – that I’d rather be out of the city and in the woods, on the farm.

One of my all time favorites from the series is from last summer in Montauk, NY on Long Island. The founders of Montauk Shellfish Company talk about their passion for great seafood, sustaining the ocean, and simply supporting their families.

And my first introduction to Food. Curated. was through this video – the first attempt at a farm-to-keg pumpkin ale by Captain Lawrence Brewery of Elmsford, NY and Katchkie Farm.

Hopped Upstate, Multimedia, WAKE Projects

Hopped Upstate: A Rising Tide


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This is the 3rd video from Hopped Upstate and the second update from Dave and Kayla Pasick of Szaro Farms in Utica. I visited Dave in May while he was finishing up a new row of poles and transplanting new wild hop plants from the barn and silo on his land. At that time, he was already seeing tremendous growth in the bines and by now, they’re probably towering.

Earlier this year Dave set up a Kickstarter campaign in an attempt to crowd source some funding to help expand his hop yard. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to reach his goal (meaning he received none of the money pledged), and felt that maybe the timing had something to do with it. Now half way into the first year of New York’s Farm Brewery Law, we’re seeing a rising tide of media attention around craft beer, hop farming, malting, etc. Dave was interviewed in April by Innovation Trail radio, and before that by the Utica Observer-Dispatch. He feels extremely encouraged by the continuing hype and thinks it’s the best way for people to get informed about the business and farm networks developing in their local communities.

Watch the latest video below and learn more about Hopped Upstate here.

Hopped Upstate, Multimedia, WAKE Projects

Hopped Upstate: Sustaining the Land


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This is the release of the second video in the Hopped Upstate series: Sustaining the Land. Casey and Kelly Holzworth are creating a sustainable farm that they one day hope to turn into a homestead. As part of their operation, they started a quarter acre hops yard. Almost a year since Governor Cuomo signed the Farm Brewery Act into law, a new market and demand for New York State grown hops has taken hold. Casey’s hops have already peaked the interest of area breweries and he’ll be looking to sell come fall.

Kelsey’s Quarter Acre Farm is located on land leased through Saratoga P-L-A-N’s land easement program. The goal for the farm is to put the land they need into agricultural production, while preserving the natural landscape and protecting the environment. Casey believes one idea behind the state’s legislation was to create this kind of opportunity for agricultural production and sustainability in local communities – and he’s excited to be a part of it.

Watch their story below and learn more about the project here.