Documentary series highlights local farmers working to make the land better for future generations
The Big Pine Creek watershed flows through Johnny Klemme’s backyard. A strong-hold in the area, the 209,000-acre watershed curves through prairies and woodlands, farmlands and fields, nourishing four counties in west central Indiana before emptying directly into the Wabash River. It sustains rare flora and fauna and also acts as the catalyst behind Klemme’s passion project: Land Values Group and Stories of Stewardship, a grass-roots documentary project that shares the stories of local farmers adapting to the challenges of modern farming and adopting conservation practices in order to leave the earth better than how they found it.
“Our mission as storytellers is to tell the story of agriculture and conservation and economics,” says Klemme. “And we sit at the intersection of all those things.”
The full feature film is a twenty (20) minute documentary and Stories of Stewardship is currently comprised of seven vignettes – all available on YouTube – with more on the way. Each story highlights a different farmer in the region, exploring the nuances of how they’re making conservation practices like cover crops, no till, rotational grazing and more work on their fields in order to boost the soil health, maintain quality yields and improve profitability. Each vignette combines strong cinematography as farmers talk about how these practices have helped them evolve with the changing climate. Because farmers are part of the solution and are the stewards of the land, we all rely upon.
On deck is an episode that shares the story of Iowa farmer Mitchell Hora and his passion for soil health. Hora is a seventh-generation farmer who runs Continuum Ag, an agricultural consulting company, and is also co-host of the Field Work podcast.
“Our priorities are the same,” says Hora of collaborating with Klemme and Land Values Group. “We both work to push conservation to the forefront of farming and extend the knowledge and reach to help others succeed with no-till, cover crops and more to make their farms the best they can be.”
Land Values Group works with landowners interested in selling prime farmland to farmers and investors who want to continue the conservation practices already in place on the land. The team is comprised of experienced brokers and auctioneers who understand the value of investing in the preservation of soil and water. Most own farms themselves so they understand why these are key components to a working natural landscape.
“It was a natural extension to reach out and collaborate with Mitchell since we are both doing similar things,” says Klemme. “And we’re excited to share these stories and connections that show how you can implement these conservation practices, how they can be scaled and how you can replicate some of these practices in other parts of the country.”
The full feature documentary film “LAND VALUES” debuted in Indianapolis, Indiana back on March 22, 2022, and has been on a nine (9) city tour across the state, including Fort Wayne and Columbus as well as the historic Fowler Theatre in Benton County, Indiana, where the film takes place.
Stories of Stewardship Series: Watch Now
From October to December, the film will be part of the Smithsonian’s Water/Ways traveling exhibit, in Otterbein, Indiana, which explores how water shapes our lives in a variety of ways. The film took two years to complete and was funded in part by Indiana Humanities and Geswein Farm & amp; Land. “I hope that the film and stories of stewardship series will inspire others to introduce conservation and land stewardship practices onto their own farms and land,” says Klemme. “And I anticipate continuing to document more farmers and landowners and share their stories for years to come.”
Kristen A. Schmitt
Land Values Group