I was once told that it was a shame that God had given me daughters instead of sons. I asked why and was told that with sons I would have someone to inherit the farm. Ignorance and stereotypes, unfortunately, are common and the only way to end them is to educate people on the truth. That’s where this documentary comes in.
I was a farmer, owned a farm in Central New York State and until the economy began to take a downslide in 2007, I assumed it was my calling in life. I lived down the road from a tremendous family that became like my family. We were dairy farmers, and they were from the same type of hardscrabble life, and like myself had daughters they were raising on the farm. Our daughters worked on our farms, and we believed that someday they would take over our respective farms. The idea of not having a son to do the work was never an issue as our daughters were dedicated and worked just as hard as any boy.
The year 2008 was not great for my family; we lost the farm and had to leave our friends to find new work. Despite a severe back injury, divorce, and job loss, I went back to school to study filmmaking in 2014. I had intended to create a film using digitized 8mm film that my grandmother had shot in the 1950s-1970s. The films she had captured highlighted her life as a mother and farm wife. I interviewed my family to get their perspectives on working in the agricultural industry. I was intrigued by my Aunt Susan’s response as she was a girl raised with three boys. My Aunt Susan described how her life on the farm differed from her brothers. Even though she loved the horses and wanted to work in the barn, she found her role doing chores in the house and the garden. Susan wasn’t offended by this, they all had a role on the farm, and like so many other strong families; everyone does what they can to help the family succeed.
I was exploring an idea for the expansion of the original piece I had done when working with my colleague and friend, Lindsey Nun. We conceptualized a narrative that honed in on women in agriculture and why they were underrepresented in farming. I immediately thought about my friends who had farmed next door to me as their oldest daughter was gearing up to take over their family farm. The idea for the direction of this story came from my interview with Bridgette Ullrich; she made a statement that was so important:
“If you're a girl and you want to have a farm get to work, go out there and do it.”
The struggle was not about women being repressed by physical issues; technology had taken care of that; it was the struggle in the mind to overcome the stereotypes society had laid down for women. I instantly thought back to the comments about my daughters and felt the need to move forward to create this film to educate and remove that stigma.
I am now at a point where I have reached out to other women that are doing the same as Bridgette’s daughter Anna in continuing the family tradition in agriculture. Throughout America, more women have been able to chase the dream of owning the family farm or starting their own.
I am so excited for this project and hope you are too.
My father, Art Foss, thrashing oats in 1954 Marilla, New York with his one of his neighbors.
Born in Western New York state, Dan eventually relocated to the Hudson Valley region where he studied filmmaking but did not complete his degree. He instead began a career in agriculture, running his own dairy farm for several years until a serious back injury forced him to take a more passive role in his business. During the economic recession that followed his injury, he was forced to sell his farm. Once he recovered, Dan decided to go back to school to finish his degree and in the process rediscovered his love of storytelling. In 2017, after earning his Associate’s in Communications & Media Arts and a year of working commercially, he founded DJamesFoss Media, a small production company
based in the Hudson Valley that deals in both client-based services as well as Foss’ own creative endeavors.
A Nebraska native, Lindsey moved to the Hudson Valley region to study filmmaking, earning her Bachelor’s in Digital Media Production from SUNY New Paltz. While in school, she received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence and was named an Outstanding Graduate for SUNY New Paltz’s Class of 2018. During her last semester, she directed a documentary short Finding Lexi that was an official selection of the SUNY Wide Film Festival. She joined DJamesFoss Media as an intern and after graduating was brought on as the company’s official Production Manager, helping oversee both client-commissioned and original productions.