Farmers, food, and films

Feb 2, 2019

After a hectic summer and fall, farmers burrow in for the winter to plan for the year ahead. Sarah Cogswell, of Cluck and Trowel, thought that there had to be a way to bring farmers together during this time. The result was the Farmer Film and Potluck series, hosted by the Dartmouth Grange.

“In the winter, wouldn’t it be great to get the farmers together, with food?” Cogswell recalled asking.

The idea for the film series stems from her time working at Skinny Dip Farm in Westport with Ben Wolbach, a movie buff.

From there, the film and potluck series was born, and the Dartmouth Grange was the perfect location. The series is held on the first Friday of each month from October to March, and is now in its fourth or fifth year.

Cogswell, who curates the movie selections, said she focuses on food and agriculture films, but occasionally expands to other environmental topics-- especially if the film is made by a local director.

“You just want to find the quirky little ones,” Cogswell said.

Past favorite films have been about Sriracha and the Grange Fair.

“There was one early one about asparagus that just blew my mind,” Cogswell said.

The events are always free, although donations to cover film rights are appreciated.

February’s film was “Rooted: Cultivating Community in the Vermont Grange,” which was produced by Historic New England. “Rooted” explores the history and current culture at two granges in Vermont.

The March Farmer Film and Potluck event, the last of the season, will be on March 1 and feature the film “Leave it Better” alongside a discussion with director Graham Meriwether. The film is about the next generation of farmers establishing their own farms.

The Grange was founded in 1873 in an effort to rehabilitate agriculture, which had been devastated by the Civil War. The Grange took off in the north, and had many early victories for agriculture and rural communities, including passing antitrust laws preventing railroads from overcharging farmers for shipping their goods, bringing free mail delivery to people in rural areas, and electrifying rural communities.

Sam Manley, a member of the Dartmouth Grange, said that another notable aspect of the Grange was its acceptance of women as members with full voting rights and the ability to hold office from the beginning.

Today, the Grange is a place for farmers and others interested in agriculture to socialize and build community. It also supports agricultural education, and frequently works with organizations like 4H and FFA.

For more information about the Dartmouth Grange and upcoming events, go to