For the past two years we have been filming the stories of farmers making profound changes in their farming practices so they can feed their local communities sustainably grown produce and grains. From farms in Oregon’s fertile Willamette Valley to underserved communities of color in Richmond, California, our film GAINING GROUND reveals the ingenuity and courage of these diverse urban and rural farmers, committed to serving and empowering their communities. The documentary interweaves experiences of urban farmer-activists in inner city Richmond, California; a small family farm in rural Oregon converting from a commodity dairy to a sustainably grown produce farm; and a large farm in the Willamette Valley transitioning from grass seed to organic grains.
Your contribution will enable us to complete a film that instills in its viewers the potential to create change on a personal, local and global scale. Your support will help us inspire people to make choices in their own lives that support local and sustainable food and the farmers who are working to take back our food system.
The stories in GAINING GROUND document the courage and effort it takes to question your assumptions,values and practices and be willing to do something different.
Vicki Hertel and her family own Sun Gold Farm in Verboort, Oregon. A fourth generation farmer, Vicki and her husband Charlie struggled to make ends meet on their small commodity dairy farm. When stricter water quality regulations forced them to sell their cows, they needed to find a way to make a living. Determined to remain on their land, they expanded their small family vegetable garden and discovered their niche growing and direct marketing pesticide-free fruits and vegetables to the Portland area.
Doria Robinson, a third generation Richmond, California resident, directs Urban Tilth, a grassroots urban agriculture program in the heart of Richmond’s Iron Triangle neighborhood. In this impoverished, violence-ridden community access to healthy food is a serious issue. “Creating opportunities for growth, using food as the excuse,” Urban Tilth operates 13 community and school gardens to feed their neighbors organic food. “Growing food from a seed to a fruit is the best project management training you can possibly get.” They provide jobs and training opportunities in a neighborhood with few resources, reconnecting community members with their own innate wisdom and self-worth.
Harry Stalford and Willow Coberly own Stalford Seed Farms, in the Willamette Valley, where sixty percent of the world’s grass seed is grown. Willow was concerned that their farm didn’t grow food. When she realized that their local food co-op sold no locally grown grains, she decided they should grow organic grains on their farm. With unrelenting persistence, she convinced her husband Harry, a life-long grass seed farmer, to experiment growing organic gains on 11 acres of their 10,000-acre farm. As they continue to convert more acreage to organic farming, they face the challenge of rebuilding local food storage and processing infrastructure that was dismantled decades ago. At the same time they are working to stave off the threat of GMO crops being introduced to the Willamette Valley.
Who We Are
My name is Elaine Velazquez and I am producing and directing Gaining Ground with Barbara Bernstein. The two of us have been creating film and radio documentaries for over thirty-five years. Our award winning work has been broadcast on public television and radio, screened at international film festivals and distributed through broad grassroots networks.
Our film collaborations combine our diverse strengths and perspectives. I approach documentary through the power of personal stories. The depth and richness of the stories we tell come from the time we invest in developing trusting relationships with the film’s protagonists, who have allowed us to document their unfolding stories of struggle and transformation. Barbara is a radio journalist who brings to the project a lifetime of environmental activism and a profound interest in food as a social justice issue.
We are passionate about films and food and care about the quality and health of the food that we all eat. We are making this film to help everyone make healthier choices for our communities, our planet and ourselves.
What We Need & What You Get
How Far We've Come and What We Need Now
For nearly two years we have been filming Urban Tilth in Richmond, CA, and Sun Gold Farm and Stalford Seed Farms in Oregon. We are currently finishing filming interviews and location footage. We have completed a short preview edit for fundraising. To complete filming and post-production we need to raise $20,000. The funds will pay for production crew, video and sound editing, music composition and recording, color correction and photo animation.
We have a long track record of making films that explore social issues through a powerful personal lens. Our work has been widely shown on broadcast television, and screened at film festivals, theaters and educational settings. Several of our pieces have been used extensively for political and social organizing campaigns. Our films and radio documentaries have won numerous awards and have helped to create tangible social change.
All donors will have their names listed on the Donor Wall of our website
Donations of $15 will have their names listed o the Donor Wall of our website.
Donations of $25 will receive a DVD of the finished film.
Donations of $30 will receive a limitd edition signed film poster.
Donations of $50 will receive signed Gaining Ground DVD, plus a limited edition signed film poster or your choice of two bags of Greenwillow Grains.
Donations of $100 or more will receive a thank you credit at the end of the film as well as a Gaining Ground DVD and 2 tickets to a premiere screening.
Donations of $500 will receive a funding credit at the end of the film, a Gaining Ground DVD, 2 tickets to a premiere screening and an opportunity to meet the filmmakers before the screening.
Donations of $750 will receive a funding credit at the end of the film, a Gaining Ground DVD, 2 tickets to a premiere screening, an opportunity to meet the filmmakers before the screening and an opportunity to meet Doria Robinson, director of Urban Tilth, who will take you on a tour of Urban Tilth's urban farms and gardens in Richmond, CA.
Donations of $1,000 or more will receive a major funder credit at the end of the film, a Gaining Ground DVD, and your choice of either 2 tickets to a premiere screening and an opportunity to meet the filmmakers at a pre-screening reception, or a visit to Sun Gold Farm in Verboort, OR, where you will enjoy an early evening hayride tour of the farm.
Donations of $1,200 or more will receive a major funder credit at the end of the film, a Gaining Ground DVD, 2 tickets to a premiere screening and an opportunity to meet the filmmakers before the screening, as well as a farm tour and dinner cooked with local ingredients at Stalford Seed Farms in Tangent, OR.
Donations of $1,500 or more will receive a major funder credit at the end of the film, a Gaining Ground DVD, 2 tickets to a premiere screening and an opportunity to meet the filmmakers before the screening, and a weekend in beautiful Irvington - close-in NE Portland, OR - at Kinley Manor Coach house bed & breakfast.
Other Ways You Can Help
If you can’t support us with money, you can help spread the word about our campaign and our film. Help us spread the buzz. Share this link with your friends, post it on your social media networks, send this announcement directly to your friends, make use of the Indiegogo share tools and check out our longer work sample on Vimeo.