Home Grown

5 Questions with 5Point Filmmakers Haley Thompson and Tomas Zuccareno

The Carbondale-based duo's documentary short, 'How We Grow,' will have its world premiere on Sunday, April 23.

By Katie Shapiro April 19, 2017

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Marking its 10th anniversary and with a new executive director at the helm, 5Point Film Festival (April 20–23) is about to have its biggest and best year yet. More than just a community-wide celebration of the spirit of outdoor adventure and exploration through film (the festival annually sells out its four days of screenings at the Carbondale Recreation Center), 5Point has always tried to unite audiences and encourage activism. 

This Sunday, festival-goers might find the most inspiration in How We Growa story told right from our own backyard. Co-directed by Carbondale-based Haley Thompson and Tomas Zuccareno, the short film follows the renaissance of the Roaring Fork Valley’s young farmer movement through the eyes of 12 familiar names on the local food scene: Two Roots Farm, Wild Mountain Seeds, Erin’s Acres, Roaring Gardens at TCI Lane, The Heritage Fruit Tree Project, Merrill’s Family Farm, Aspen T.R.E.E., Sustainable Settings, ACES at Rock Bottom Ranch, Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute, Eco Systems Design, and Roaring Fork Farmers and Ranchers.

The world premiere is a preview of the duo’s upcoming feature-length filmstill in the works thanks to the Redford Center, which awarded six inaugural grants to documentaries focused on environmental filmmaking last year. After an Indiegogo campaign and hosting local events, fundraising is still ongoing with tax-deductible donations to the film through a fiscal non-profit partnership with Fat City Farmers. 

Ahead of their much-anticipated screening this weekend, we asked Thompson and Zuccareno five questions about the production process, the thriving local farming community, and daily actions you can take to make a difference:

ASPEN SOJOURNER: How did this project come to fruition? 

Haley Thompson: Tom and I met at the Local Food Convergence event that Gravity Productions hosted in January 2016. We connected over our mutual adoration of the farming community in the valley and filmmaking in general. When it was clear we both wanted to make the same film, there was no looking back. The first day of shooting was last spring at the hoop house raising for Erin's Acres, and ever since then we've been chasing the story as it unfolds. This premiere is the culmination of more than a year’s work, though it is really a sneak peek of one chapter in the film ... to get people excited about the feature.

AS: What does it mean to have a hometown premiere, and what are your post-5Point plans for the film? 

Tomas Zuccareno: This community has supported my exploits as a still photographer for 25 years [for the likes of Condé Nast Traveler, ESPN, and the National Geographic Society]. It’s an honor that 5Point is helping me with my transition as storyteller. Images have the power to move people and the five points of the festival [respect, commitment, humility, purpose, and balance] speak to that. I’m proud to be a part of a growing community of change makers. 

HT: It has always been a goal of mine to premiere a film at 5Point! I've always viewed [this project] as a visual love letter to the valley and to do it at such an epic festival as 5Point is absolutely a dream come true. To have a hometown (this valley in particular) is to love a place so fiercely you always come back to it with a full and grateful heart. We intend to submit the feature length version of How We Grow to festivals starting this August in hopes of finding the best partnership for distribution. We want to share the message as widely as possible. 

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How We Grow directors Haley Thompson and Tomas Zuccareno.

AS: What is it about the Roaring Fork Valley that makes the farming community so supportive, and why is it thriving more than ever?

HT: The local food movement is happening all over the country, but the Roaring Fork Valley is unique in many ways, considering our rich history in agriculture and the shorter, unpredictable growing season due to our high elevation. A number of people have been paving the way in agriculture here for generations, but particularly so in the last 30 years. I believe people like Jerome Ostentowski, who started the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute, and Brook LeVan, who brought biodynamic farming to the valley with Sustainable Settings, have [increased] an awareness of what is possible. And both have inspired future generations of beginning farmers to follow in their footsteps. There are also a number of non-profits that promote sustainable farming and ecological literacy. Another thing that makes our community unique is the support of groups like 2Forks Club, which offers zero-interest loans to farmers as inspired by the micro-finance NGO Slow Money. 

AS: How did you determine the 12 farms to feature? 

HT: We kept the focus limited to the Roaring Fork Valley, and the same group of characters are very active within the community, so it was easy to follow the story. And it's not over yet ... 

TZ: These characters are our friends and neighbors, so we really just chose those that were right in front of us and got lucky because all of their stories are so strong … all we had to do was press record. The valley is full of amazing farmers and once we found our core group, we just put our heads down and focused on the story.

AS: What are a few daily actions that people can practice to help spread the How We Grow message?

HT: Buy local and get to know your farmers so you know where your food is coming from! We all vote with our dollars, so investing in locally grown food is also investing in your local economy ... not to mention food security and the future of your community. Others I should mention:

  • Invest in your local Slow Money chapter (ours is the 2Forks Club), so that you can in turn be investing in our local farmers and food entrepreneurs.
  • Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for a weekly share of locally grown goodies.
  • Host a pot-luck dinner encouraging guests to source their ingredients as locally as possible.
  • Lease a community garden plot or start a garden in your own back yard.

Tickets to Saturday's Program I: Best 10 Years (2:30–5 p.m.); Sunday's Program IV: Change-makers (12–3 p.m.), featuring How We Grow; and the Sunday Surprise + Awards (4–6 p.m.) are still available ($25) at 5pointfilm.org.   

Updated September 5, 2017:

How We Grow is in the homestretch of a $20,000 post-production crowdfunding campaign to finish the film for submission to the Sundance Film Festival (January 18-28, 2018). Get a glimpse of their inspiring work-in-progress below and learn more on their official Kickstarter page. You can also join the entire crew in person on Wednesday, September 6 for a "Final Hours Kickstarter Fundraiser Party" at Batch in Carbondale. Help our local filmmakers tell the must-see story of our local farmers! 

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