COUNTY FARE | Williamstown residents' documentary looks at 'Forgotten Farms'

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Since its local debut in 2016, the documentary film, "Forgotten Farms," made by Williamstown residents Dave Simonds, the director, and Sarah Gardner, the producer, has been earning critical acclaim on the film festival circuit — and also critical attention from agricultural advocates and legislators.

The film was scheduled to be screened Tuesday night in the Congressional Meeting Room South at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, as arranged by U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Worcester. Simonds and Gardner were slated to join during a post-screening panel discussion with Bob Gray, executive director of Northeast Dairy Farmers Cooperatives; Cris Coffin of American Farmland Trust and policy director for Land for Good; Darryl and Lucinda Williams of Luther Belden Farm; and Lorette Picciano executive director for Rural Coalition.

The film poses this problem for audiences to chew on: New England has lost over 10,000 dairy farms in the past 50 years; fewer than 2,000 farms remain. Collectively, these farmers tend 1.2 million acres of farmland and produce almost all of the milk consumed in New England.

Both the film and the panel discuss hardships faced by New England's dairy farmers and opportunities for the federal Farm Bill to improve the viability of New England family farms. The bill is up for renewal this year.

"Forgotten Farms" continues to be screened and circulated, and will have a Feb. 8 broadcast premiere on Vermont PBS. Other upcoming screenings are scheduled in Ontario, Canada; Southport, Conn., and at Yale University in Connecticut. Keep tabs on this project at forgottenfarms.org.

Light shines on

During the recent holiday season, more than 170 donations were made to Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington in memory and honor of loved ones who had been cared for there, according to spokeswoman Lauren Smith.

Fairview celebrates each of those gifts and each honoree during its annual "Trees of Light" presentation that is held in the main hallway of the hospital. Each memory is displayed on its own golden card tied by ribbons onto one of several Christmas trees exhibited there. The funds are then used to make "important investments in medical technology," Smith said.

For information about the program, call 413-854-9609.

First born

Fairview welcomed its the first baby of the year at 2:54 a.m. Jan. 2.

Liliana Summer Roots was born to Michelle O'Boyle and James Roots of Hancock. She weighed 5 pounds, 9 ounces, and was 18 1/2 inches long.

Liliana was fitted with a baby cap hand-knit by Fairview volunteer Elaine Fitzpatrick of Great Barrington. Every month, she knits caps for all babies born at the hospital's Family Birthplace.

County Fare, a weekly column featuring "tales from throughout the Berkshires," is compiled by Eagle staffers.

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