This film project sets out to tell the story about how food is produced in Canada through a journey called “Before the Plate."
Farmers are often told to speak up, to tell their story, to be an “agvocate” – defined as someone who promotes agriculture by adding their voice to the food conversation in respectful and meaningful ways. But what if a kid from the city helped tell their story for them? Dylan Sher, a third-year agriculture business student at the University of Guelph has his sights set on doing just that. He’s the man behind the “Before the Plate” project, a documentary about food and farming, which offers a relatable perspective to both rural and urban audiences.
The film will begin in an urban setting, a restaurant in Toronto and follow a plate of food all the way back to the farm, to allow viewers to see the entire food-chain process.
But why would a kid who grew up in Richmond Hill, the suburbs of Toronto be interested to help farmers tell their story?
From a young age, Sher had an instinct to farm. The private elementary school that he attended was home to gardens, a few chickens and sheep. Sher fondly remembers having science class out in the garden. It is from of these experiences that he first felt drawn to agriculture. So, when the time came to apply to post-secondary education, Sher told his father that he wanted to farm, even though he wasn’t exactly sure how it would fit into his life. His dad told him that he would have to go to school and the best institution to attend would be the Ontario Agricultural College, a founding college of the University of Guelph.
Sher took his dad’s advice.
Thanks to his experiences at the University of Guelph, where he became exposed to a new worldview perspective about food and farming, and formed new friendships with people who grew up on farms. His opinions evolved and eventually changed. And more recently he was inspired to leverage his urban upbringing with the knowledge he’s gained at school to create a documentary that shares the food and farm story that is free from agenda-driven food politics.
Gathering footage for the project has already begun. The first farm that Sher visited was Hillside Gardens in Bradford, Ontario in the Holland Marsh. Click here to see a teaser of some of the b-roll that was taken. Sher said that he was blown away with how the film crew captured the “true beauty of modern agriculture,” he said.
The documentary is a grassroots project. In fact, Sher made the strategic decision not to accept funds from corporations as so not to leave the film open to criticism. The project is still in need of monetary support. You can donate here at https://www.beforetheplate.com.
The documentary is expected to be unveiled at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2018.