Reflections on contemporary agriculture inspired by the poem Georgica from Virgil.
Over two thousand years ago, Virgil wrote an ode to farming: Georgica. Is there something to be found for a farmer in Flevoland that has not lost its relevancy?
We float above the plains of the Flevopolder, the last reclamation project of the Dutch government. We see how various farmers carry out their occupations in that ordered landscape. Over two thousand years ago, the Roman poet Vergil wrote an ode to farming and to life in the countryside with the title Georgica. What do the farmers think of the texts by Vergil. Some things have remained the same: the seasons, the ground that has to be ploughed, the weather, the sounds of the birds. Spontaneously however stories are also conjured up on what has changed, about the influence of the food industry, about contemporary regulations.
On the basis of four chapters we make acquaintance with very different people. Corrie Vogelaar (85) tells about how she and her husband Piet started their company (cows) in the Flevopolder. For the opening she had liked to invite Sicco Mansholt, minister of agriculture and advocate of modern large-scale farming. He was absent however, taking a solo sailing trip to reflect. Corrie Vogelaar says that when he got back a different Mansholt returned.
We further get to meet Carel Bouma, an organic farmer, who says that there are only a few genuine farmers left. Many have started to do something else, or have specialised like himself. Sjaak Groot has made the turnaround from arable farming to care farm. Therein a sort of small-scale casualness is possible, reminiscent of the agriculture of the past. Wim van Wageningen has worked for a while in ICT, but still started a goat farm, with about 1800 goats. He thought that a goat was a small cow, but found out that it is an animal in its own right. His father and brother help out. Peter Culenaere is primarily passionately involved with potatoes, but combines this with trade and machines. Bram Versprille knows everything about fruit cultivation and inspects fruit at a propagation nursery. The consumer wants a vibrant red apple, even though an orange one might taste better.
Erik Veldhuisen has just sold his ultra-modern company with 100 cows. Along with the cows he also held thousands of ducks. We lastly see beekeeper Kotterink at work. Conscious small-scale farming by and of itself.
The film shows the landscape in all its large-scale beauty. We hear fragments of the poem by Vergil, sometimes read aloud by farmers. In a landscape full of windmills, Piet Vogelaar tells about how keen he used to be when working with horses and how difficult the transition to tractors was. He is on the other hand eager about the windmills.
In the final chapter (Future) we see a kitchen table discussion by the Culenaere family. Will the son succeed his father? How will that turn out? The cows at Erik Veldhuisen in the meantime have gone, his stable is empty. He will start again. The goats at Wim van Wageningen are having their hoofs cut before they enter the enormous carousel to be milked. Can durability happen on a large scale? Can farmers still make independent choices? Have authority over the food industry? Even over their own existence?
script & direction: Katelijne Schrama
camera: Ben Geraerts
sound: Alex Booy
editing: Katelijne Schrama
sound design: Boon & Booy
image post-production: Loods Lux & Lumen
music: Gert-Jan Blom
producer: Digna Sinke
this film is a co-production of SNG Film with the Buddhist Broadcasting
this film is financially supported by:
Dutch Cultural Media Fund
Filmfestival „Der neue Heimatfilm“, Freistadt 2015: Prize for Best Documentary