David Vetter

Nebraska organic farmer David Vetter will be in Athens next week for a film screening.

A special one-night screening of the new documentary film, “Dreaming of a Vetter World” will be held at Athena Cinema in Athens at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 1.

The farmer at the center of the film, David Vetter, will be in Athens to answer questions after the showing.

The feature-length documentary, according to a news release, “comes at a time when interest in regenerating soil has exploded worldwide. Others are realizing what the Vetters have known for decades: soil is key to our very survival. The current flood disaster in Nebraska and neighboring states, makes this film and discussion even more timely.”

The documentary focuses on the story of the Vetter family, pioneering organic farmers in Marquette, Nebraska. Shot, directed and narrated by first-time filmmaker Bonnie Hawthorne, the film tells the story of the Vetter family’s decades-long experiment with a self-renewing farm management system. According to the news release, “It is also a story about place, hope, and love; an inspiring example of perseverance and doing what you know is right, against all odds.”

Attendees will hear from pioneering organic farmer David Vetter, who will take questions following the screening. “I’m always amazed at the new information that comes up during the question-and-answer sessions. I learn something new every time,” Hawthorne said in the release.

Shagbark Seed & Mill owner Michelle Ajamian will moderate the discussion. 

Ajamian knew the film’s Executive Producer Jo Andres, who died earlier this year, as young back-to-the-landers in Athens County. Both were subsequently students at OU in dance and film.

“Jo’s passing is heartbreaking in so many ways,” Ajamian said in the release. “I felt it oddly magical that my work in milling converged with something wonderful she helped create, with a farmer I had contacted when I started Shagbark, because of his work with organic grains.”

 Shot on location in the Great Plains, this documentary shows what farming with nature is all about, according to the release. The film includes interviews with other organic leaders, local farmers and scientists. “At the heart of this powerful story is David Vetter’s journey from farmer’s son, to missionary, to scientist, and back to farmer again, where he practices what he calls a ‘ministry to the soil,’” the release said.

Currently based in Joshua Tree, California, filmmaker Hawthorne took a hiatus from her work as a television editor, sold most of her belongings, hitched a tiny travel trailer to her Toyota 4Runner and took off for Nebraska. She spent the next two years camped on farms and in Walmart parking lots while filming.

“In retrospect, I see the connection: David pursued a way of farming that seemed crazy at the time, but it mattered. I think his story dared me to take a crazy chance–like making a film by myself – learning the skills along the way,” Hawthorne said in the release.

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