University of Guelph Students Launch the Agriculture Protection Project
By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
A group of University of Guelph Ontario Agriculture College students have started an initiative that could change the face of Canadian agriculture. Last Friday, the group made their announcement public calling it “The Agriculture Protection Project” also known as TAPP. They’re working on producing a documentary to share the authentic side of farming from the perspective of farmers and their families. The idea emerged after one of the students attended the Southwest Agriculture Conference where Bruce Sargent, the spokesperson for the project heard from Michele Payn-Knoper, a well-known agriculture advocate and founder of the AgChat Foundation speak on the importance of farmers telling their stories. After returning from the conference Sargent shared what he had learned with a group of fellow aggies, where they discussed some of their frustrations with animal activist groups and documentaries such as Food Inc. defining agriculture in a negative light. The other founders of the project are Eddie Metzger, Jacob Pelissero, Jackie Kaufman.
“We have Twitter and Facebook and all these young people using these social media sites posting pictures of what they are doing on the farm, and that’s amazing because that’s what consumers need to see but it’s a matter of framing [the story of agriculture] the right way” says Sargent.
Sargent hopes that the documentary will turn into a movement across Canada and create a platform for agriculture producers to share their story in an intimate way. Their goal is to capture the passion and love that farmers have for raising livestock and producing food, counteracting some of the misconceptions that have been cultivated by mainstream media. Their motivation initiating this project is to ensure that farming remains an important tradition and a way of life for farm families. Sargent shared that he represents the seventh generation of farmers in his family and he wants to protect this unique tradition for future generations.
He explained that it’s vital that consumers are able to make a connection and to put a face to those who are producing their food. They are hoping to garner support across the country. “We want every aspect of agriculture to be backing this” says Sargent. Since the announcement the reception has been positive, and they have secured some industry support for the project; and farmers from across Canada have started to contact them wanting to be a part of this ground breaking initiative. The project coordinators are still looking for more monetary support and producers who are willing to come forward and share their story. The documentary in its entirety will be filmed and produced by the students.
The documentary will be filmed this summer, with the hopes it will be release on DVD next summer. All revenue generated from the project will go towards making it accessible as an educational tool to send into to schools. For more information about the project check out the project launch video below: