Grinnell Heritage Farm featured in HBO documentary about obesity in America
Grinnell Heritage Farm, a certified organic vegetable farm in central Iowa, is one of several Iowa farms featured in a new four-part HBO documentary – “The Weight of the Nation” – that aired in April exploring the causes and consequences of the growing obesity epidemic in the United States.
Andrew and Melissa Dunham, owners of Grinnell Heritage Farm, are featured in the fourth film segment, “Challenges,” which examines the major driving forces causing the obesity epidemic, including commodity agriculture, economics, evolutionary biology, food marketing, racial and socio-economic disparities, physical inactivity, American food culture, and the strong influence of the food and beverage industry.
In the segment, the Dunhams join other Iowa farmers and Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) staff in a discussion about the obstacles facing fruit and vegetable farmers in a state dominated by commodity grains. All the farmers featured are PFI members.
Practical Farmers of Iowa is an Ames-based non-profit dedicated to advancing profitable, ecologically sound and community enhancing approaches to agriculture through farmer-led investigation and information sharing.
The HBO film crew learned about the Dunhams after contacting PFI to find Iowa vegetable farmers for an on-camera discussion. That discussion was ultimately filmed in August 2010 in the packing shed at Grinnell Heritage Farm.
Grinnell Heritage Farm and other Practical Farmers of Iowa members are also featured extensively in the bonus short, “Healthy Foods and Obesity Prevention: Increasing Markets for Fruit and Vegetable Farmers.” The documentary and bonus shorts can be viewed online for free at http://theweightofthenation.hbo.com.
Grinnell Heritage Farm is an 80-acre farm located on the outskirts of Grinnell that produces U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified organic vegetables, flowers and herbs. It has been in Andrew’s family for 153 years and is counted among the oldest family farms in central Iowa.
The farm’s primary market is through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) memberships. Through CSAs, individuals invest in the farm by purchasing a share of the farm's harvestat the beginning of the year and then and receive a box of vegetables weekly throughout the growing season.
Grinnell Heritage Farm’s CSA shares are delivered each week to sites throughout central Iowa, including Grinnell, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Hiawatha, Des Moines, West Des Moines, Altoona and Ames. The farm offers spring, summer and winter subscriptions. Spring shares run for four weeks in May and summer shares run weekly from early June through October. Half summer shares are also available from mid-August to October, and winter shares run bi-weekly in November and December.
In addition to operating its CSA, Grinnell Heritage Farm attends the Iowa City Saturday farmers market weekly and the Cedar Rapids Saturday market twice per month; offers produce through the Des Moines-based Iowa Food Cooperative and Cedar Rapids-based Iowa Valley Food Co-op; and sells produce wholesale to New Pioneer Co-op in Iowa City and Coralville, and Tallgrass Grocery Co-op and Gateway Market in Des Moines. The farm will also be among the local farmers supplying the new Whole Foods Market opening soon inWest Des Moines.