Dear Land Documentary


Stage Three of development


Filming continues for the “Dear Land” documentary of the lives and culture of families who farm on Norwegian Ridge. B roll still needs to be shot for it, and research continues as well. 

More than 150 years ago, people left their homes and extended families to sail to a foreign land. Many chose to settle in an inviting area of Minnesota that became known as Norwegian Ridge. They felt an emotional tie to a place that was urging them to put down roots for their family. These courageous people brought their name, their gift of love for the land, their need to produce food for their family, their reverence for the soil itself, the challenge to persevere in their new surroundings to be successful against the odds, and to build a new community.

Dr. Gray, beginning in 1965, visited farm families on their land, nearly every day for the next 50 years. He had the unique experience of witnessing multiple generations grow up on the land, learning values from their forbears, and practicing new ways of farming that upheld the importance of former ways that were appropriate in their time. He saw their reverence for the soil, how they loved their animals, how important keeping up with the times was for the ability to provide for their families, how much fun they had together in the success or challenges a day brought. Dr. Gray wanted to capture for posterity a documentation of this way of living, and Giants Board members agreed that it is important work that we need to do.

During 2016 plans were envisioned. Giants self-funded Stage One of a multi-year plan that hired Erin Dorbin in 2017 to film farm families telling the stories of farming on their land. Then a grant proposal, written to continue filming, was successful.

The Minnesota Historical Society awarded $10,000 through the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to the state constitution’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund to Giants for Stage Two.

Giants hired Vicki Albu, noted Oral historian, and Mike Kramer, professional filmmaker, to continue during Stage Two to interview and film farm families of Norwegian Ridge during 2018. Then, COVID happened, and work ceased.

Now we are preparing for Stage Three which will be the concluding phase to create a broadcast quality film. In preparing a grant application that proposes a project which will cost in the neighborhood of $100K, one of the requirements is that experts write a letter of critical review of the project. Giants is grateful for the thoughts shared by Darrell Henning and David Kjome as presented to the funders in critical evaluation of what we are proposing.  

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