A new documentary series is bringing “the great, untold story of America” to light, providing an honest look at the real life of American farmers.
The American Farm debuts Thursday, April 4, at 9 p.m. CT on the History Channel, telling the story of five family farms across America facing the risk and reward of chasing the American Dream.
The eight-part series comes from producers Thom Beers and Jeff Conroy, who have produced popular shows like Deadliest Catch and Storage Wars.
FARMERS ARE HEROES
Beers grew up around farms in upstate New York. He was familiar with the inside world of agriculture, and the passion and sacrifices needed to make the operation run. “[Farmers] are heroes,” Beers says. “They’re in the biggest struggle of their lives. It’s not that they are fighting to feed America, they’re fighting to support their way of life. I just admire that.”
As a storyteller, he was surprised that he’d never seen a great series showcasing the authentic life of farmers.
Beers started brainstorming the idea for the show seven years ago, but he didn’t think the audience was ready. Major networks didn’t think the idea of documenting the life of farmers would be exciting enough for television.
“I think the audience came and caught up with us,” Beers says. “I think the curiosity of people in urban areas [has increased]. All of a sudden there is a heightened awareness of the quality of food. We’re trying to explain where it all comes from and the struggle to get it there.”
Now, there’s a market. Beers and his team spent months searching the country for the right families. They knew they wanted multigenerational farms from different parts of the country. It was also important to have different crops and livestock, along with the needed charisma that makes for a good show.
Beers thinks they found just what they were looking for.
FIVE FARM FAMILIES
One of the five families is the Robertson’s, who lead a dairy farm in Contoocook, New Hampshire, that has been in the family since 1907. Jamie and Heather Robertson have been in charge of the farm since 1990, but now they’re preparing to incorporate their three sons, who all have moved back to work on the farm.
In order to survive, the family will need to figure out how to expand their creamery business to financially support all three sons and their eventual families.
“We get the opportunity to show people where their food comes from,” says Nate Robertson, the middle brother. “I think that people in the country today are somewhat disconnected from such a small percentage of people that are active farmers. A lot of people just think it’s coming from the supermarket. I hope that this program is a good way to get other people involved and thinking about what’s happening and maybe be a little more conscious about the people that make the food for them.”
The other families hail from Utah, Virginia, Alaska, and Tennessee to reveal the stories well known to farmers but often unknown to those outside the agriculture world.
“It’s a great American story,” Beers says. “It’s a story about people who put food on your table. They show up every day, they do their work, and pray to God at the end of the day they can pay their bills and make a living for their family. That’s the American story.”