… is a documentary film in-the-making that tells the story of two sisters struggling to hold onto their 5th-generation family ranch after the sudden death of their parents. It’s a labor of love that’s been unfolding for over four years, and the work to finish this film continues to this day.
I first began filming on Gleason Ranch after I met Nancy Prebilich while working on another project several years ago. I was inspired by her story and within a few weeks I made my way up to Bodega to meet her folks (her parents, her sister Cindy, and her niece and nephews) and begin documenting their lives working the land. It was a particularly important time for me because I was looking for a way to connect with my own family’s history of farming. You see, my mom, grandmother, and great-grandparents grew up on a 3rd-generation family farm in Badger, Iowa, but, as my mother passed away in 2002, there was no way for me to ask her all the questions about her childhood that had surfaced in the past decade or so. What was it like growing up on a farm? What did it take for a family to take care of the land and the animals over the span of generations? What did it mean for them to be so closely in touch with our nation’s agricultural production? What did that feel and look like? Spending time on Gleason Ranch provided for me an opportunity to better understand my ancestry, roots, and heritage, and get a true sense of what it was like for my own family living on a ranch.
Throughout filming, I began to gain a deeper appreciation for small farmers all across the world. It’s been difficult watching these sisters, Nancy and Cindy, struggle to earn a living, pay the bills, and maintain their own sanity amidst such intense circumstances. There is this incredible balance that the Gleason family has had to strike between sacrificing everything to hold onto their land, while at the same time maintaining positive relationships with each other.
Anything I could say regarding the real, down-and-dirty, in-the-mud work it takes to run a small family farm these days would be an understatement. It’s unfathomable how difficult and taxing this job is. And imagine trying to balance all of this right after the death of both parents. This is the reality that Nancy and Cindy had to deal with. This is the reality that this film delves into. And this is the beginning of a heart-moving story that I’d love to bring to you.
Protecting our environment–our land–is such an incredibly vital act, and it’s not easy in the least bit. In making this film, we hope to raise awareness of family farmers and their communities everywhere. What they do for our society is so significant to our health, sustainability, and wellbeing. Gleason Ranch has been giving back to its community for 5 generations. Our food security as a nation depends on families just like them.
These last four years documenting life on Gleason Ranch have truly been a tremendous journey. It’s been an intense and fulfilling experience, and I’m hoping to be able to share it with you.
For more information and to see how you can support our effort to finish the documentary please see our page here:
Thank you so much.
Morgan Schmidt Feng
Edited by Nicholas Carter
To learn more: http://gleasonranchfilm.com/