Published 11:25 am Friday, April 10, 2015

These days there’s a lot of talk about food in relation to health, to regulations, where it comes from and how far it has to travel to get to a given chain grocery store. It’s a national dialogue that often leaves out some its most important voices — those of farmers.

That changes in Beaufort County on Sunday, as the Beaufort County Farm Bureau invites the general public to a screening of “Farmland,” an award-winning documentary that chronicles the lives of six young American farmers, the risks and rewards, and the passion they have for an occupation and way of life that’s been passed down through generations. The film will be shown free of charge at 4 p.m. at the Turnage Theater in downtown Washington.

The documentary, originally released in April of 2014, was made available to the Beaufort County Farm Bureau by the North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation, said Mike Godley, president of the local Farm Bureau.

“The motivation for us to air it is that people are talking about their food — the consumers and people involved in the food industry. It’s a topic of conversation whether it’s a matter of taste or safety. As farmers, we would rather be part of the conversation. We would rather be talked with, rather than talked about,” Godley said.

There’s a story behind the making of the film, he said. It was largely funded by the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, of which North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation is a member, but when USF&RA representatives approached filmmaker James Moll with the project, they gave him creative license to make the film the award-winning director wanted to make, without

“It’s not 100-percent positive,” Godley said. “It’s not an infomercial. … He was inspired to do it his standards of artistry.”

Godley is owner of Godley farms, located four miles east of Bath, where he grows cotton and grain on land that’s been farmed by his family for over 100 years. He said the 70-minute film will appeal to a broad audience and laughed when asked who should come see it: “Everybody who eats,” he said.

“It is for people who have a farming background or some connection to farming in their family history — it will be an emotional experience for them,” Godley said.

For those without a farming connection, who don’t really know much about where their food comes from and who may have never set foot on a farm, it will be highly informative and a lesson in the diversity of agriculture, he said.

After the screening of “Farmland” there will be refreshments, as well as a very informal question and answer session in the lobby of the Turnage Theater. While admission to “Farmland” is free, those who attend are asked to make a voluntary donation of a nonperishable food item (or cash) to Eagle’s Wings Food Ministry and/or Food Bank of the Albemarle upon admission.

“I think everybody has something to learn about that mission as well,” Godley said, referring to the eastern North Carolina food banks.

The local Farm Bureau board was given many options as to how to screen the film — to the public or to Farm Bureau members, at a private event or on a bigger scale — and they chose to screen it at the Turnage, so a fairly large number of people can attend.

“And it’s an opportunity to get people in there who haven’t seen the restored Turnage, so they can see how nice of place that we have there,” Godley said.

The Turnage Theater is located at 150 W. Main St., Washington.