Experiencing Interruptions?

From Fencerows to Foodsheds

Across America’s heartland, communities are nestled among expansive fields of corn and soybeans. Why, with all this bounty, do so many local families not have enough nutritious food to eat? From Fencerows to Foodsheds shares the inspiring stories of two Indiana communities who are addressing this crucial issue as they honor their agricultural heritage, revitalize their economy, and improve their families’ access to healthy food by working to rebuild their local foodshed.

As the film opens farmers and townspeople share their heartfelt concerns about the health and resiliency of their communities and wonder if locally grown and prepared food has the power to make their communities stronger. Through a wide range of authentic midwestern voices, the film is grounded in the unique perspectives of the heartland. As the story unfolds, the film introduces a dynamic network of concerned citizens devoted to reimaging the local food system in both Elkhart County and the Batesville region of Indiana.

In Elkhart County, the region’s Amish and Mennonite heritage contributes to its pastoral character and strong sense of community. However, the stability of the area’s economy is threatened by its reliance on the volatile RV manufacturing industry. A committed group of farmers, marketers, educators and policy makers shares their individual perspectives through on-location interviews at community gardens, food pantries, soup kitchens, and farms across the region. Their stories illustrate how the abundant agricultural and manufacturing resources in their community have the potential to both strengthen and diversify their local economy and improve the region’s food security.

In Batesville, the film captures the story of a thriving small town seeking to maintain its quality of life, ensure its future, and improve community wellness by increasing the availability of locally produced food. Through interviews at local restaurants, hospitals, schools, farmers’ markets and farms, a dedicated group of dieticians, farmers, teachers, chefs and community advocates shares stories of their challenges and their vision of how locally grown food can improve the health of their soil and their neighbors.

This circle of the young and old, conservative and progressive, farmers and townspeople in both communities shares the common lessons they have learned in the conclusion of From Fencerows to Foodsheds. By working together, communities can instill a new sense of value and vitality in their local food system and fulfill their common vision of healthy families and thriving farms, resilient local economies and abundant local landscapes.

  • Janet Katz
  • Janet Katz
  • Zachary Hawkins
  • Janet Katz
  • Residents of Elkhart County & Batesville, Indiana
    Key Cast
  • Joe Noorthoek, mission 3 media
  • Frank Krywicki, mission 3 media
  • Janet Katz
  • Joe Noorthoek, mission 3 media
  • Frank Krywicki, mission 3 media
  • Zachary Hawkins
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 35 minutes 55 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    October 28, 2015
  • Production Budget:
    70,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Food & Growers Association Fundraiser at Gibson Theatre
    Batesville, Indiana
    August 2, 2015
    Batesville Premiere
  • Taste of the Arts Festival at Cinema Center
    Fort Wayne, Indiana
    August 29, 2015
    Hometown Premiere
  • Invitation-only Screening at Goshen Art House
    Goshen, Indiana
    October 27, 2015
    Elkhart County Premiere
  • Wine Country Film Festival 2016
    Sonoma Valley, California
Director Biography - Janet Katz

With the goal of rebuilding Indiana’s local foodshed, Janet Katz decided to pursue a master’s degree in sustainable food systems. As part of her studies, she sought out interviews with innovative farmers and visionary leaders working to bring fresh, locally grown food to their communities. Though Janet didn’t set out to create a documentary, she was so inspired by the personal conviction behind these grassroots stories that she felt compelled to share them. She hoped that by capturing these passionate, authentic voices from the heartland, she could help to inspire those who were skeptical about the value of locally grown food.

For two year, Katz worked with Mission 3 Media, to record interviews with a diverse array of over forty farmers, teachers, marketers, chefs, policy makers and consumers, each convinced that growing their local food economy will make their community healthier and more resilient. In From Fencerows to Foodsheds she weaves together the compelling narratives of these quiet revolutionaries.

Janet received a BA, magna cum laude from Kenyon College and this film became her Capstone Project for her MS in Sustainable Food Systems from Green Mountain College. Janet lives on Green Oak Farm near Fort Wayne, Indiana where she plans to continue to find ways to inspire others to rebuild their foodshed.

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Director Statement

The inherent value of locally grown food and sustainable agricultural practices is commonly recognized in many progressive communities across the United States. Yet, across much of the Midwest strong ties to commodity agriculture and the region’s emphasis on traditional values have limited the perceived value of a strong, local, sustainable food system.

Through this film, I strive to open the hearts and minds of traditional farmers, conservative policy makers and cynical consumers across the heartland. Though dubious of examples shared from other regions, these skeptics will hopefully be inspired by the authentic stories of their neighbors.