Farm Closure Inspires MHC Student’s Short Film

Monday, June 11, 2012 - 14:35

Earlier this year, Jamie Theophilos ’13 traveled to Northampton to film activities and conversations at Montview Neighborhood Farm, which closed in May after serving the community for six years. Theophilos made the documentary as part of the MHC film studies department’s advanced video production workshop.

Established in 2005, Montview was Northampton’s first community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm. Located on three acres of city-owned conservation land in Northampton, the organic farm used sustainable agriculture techniques to reduce the use of fossil fuels in its food production; its food was sold locally.

The farm closed in May when its license with the City of Northampton expired.

Theophilos’s film, Here Nor There, examines the last few months of Montview Farm’s existence. Here Nor There was screened at an event celebrating the farm’s work in Northampton in May.

“I’ve always been interested in art and I wanted to connect my activism to meaning through an art format,” said Theophilos. “Making films became a passion of mine that I’ve pursued at Mount Holyoke.”

“I learned about the farm and its predicament, and something clicked for me,” she said. “As the first CSA in Northampton, it had historical, political, and community importance. It seemed imperative to me to record those experiences.”

Theophilos tells Montview’s story through interviews with the farm’s cofounder, Lisa Depiano, farm workers, and neighbors. The film also addresses the farm’s legacy: Depiano’s new company, Mobile Design Lab, is taking plant material and the knowledge gained from running the farm over the past six years to help other communities to grow food in urban and other non-traditional farm settings.

“What I liked about Here Nor There, in addition to the fact that it is a well-made, engaging film, is the way it involved Jamie in the life of the community beyond Mount Holyoke,” said Bernadine Mellis, Five College Visiting Assistant Professor of Film Studies.

“After working with people at Montview Farm to make the film, Jamie stayed connected with them and was able to screen the piece at an event they organized. She posted the film online and is also creating a website to accompany it. As a result, the film's audience includes MHC students and faculty, local people who are interested in food security and local farming–issues about which Jamie is passionate–and a broader Internet viewership.“

Watch Here Nor There.