‘Love Letters To the Shore’ features farming narrative
A documentary celebrating Maryland’s Eastern Shore and its residents has been gaining popularity since its recent online release thanks to, by no small contribution, its time spent on the region’s farming industry.
“Love Letters To the Shore,” a production of SNM Global Holdings and Bullitt Point Films, features the Eastern Shore’s ag among the reasons that make the region so lovable during the hour-long film.
Producers invited several local farm industry representatives to talk about local agriculture, including Jason Scott, Jennie Schmidt and Jenny Rhodes, and they discussed their respective livelihoods in on-camera interviews.
Scott, a Dorchester County grain farmer, is featured prominently while discussing its varying soil conditions through the length of the Shore, and the industry’s place in national and global circles.
“I was satisfied the way the industry was portrayed,” Scott said. “I think the documentary did a great job explaining the nature of the business and the evolution of agriculture over the last few centuries.”
As chairman of U.S. Wheat Associates, Scott said he has traveled to 20 countries and about 15 states, touring flour mills, talking with wheat buyers and end users and learning about other wheat growing practices around the nation. He was the youngest to serve as president of the Maryland Grain Producers Association Utilization Board from 2005-07.
“I thought the whole movie was really well done,” Schmidt said. “In the farming section, I thought Jason did an excellent job.”
Aside from sit-down interviews, the film uses a considerable amount of drone footage, often over waterways, but it also uses a video shot with an airborne drone to capture a tomato harvest at Schmidt Family Farms — which also grows grain and grapes in its vineyard — in Sudlersville in Queen Anne’s County, with Schmidt explaining the process.
“I think the movie is beneficial for non-farming folks along similar lines that ‘Maryland Farm & Harvest’ does” on Maryland Public Television, Schmidt said. “That’s the most important audience, so they have more information about what’s going on around in agriculture.”
Scott agreed that it’s important to reiterate how vital agriculture is to the Shore.
“I think most people on the Shore are somewhat familiar with that, because most people at least know a few farmers,” he said. “It is unreal how many people I meet from outside of the area that have no idea that agriculture is one of the top industries in the region.”
Scott and Rhodes said they wish the documentary could have offered more information on agriculture, despite the parameters set by producers to have the industry’s story told by “ordinary people.”
“It would’ve been great to get someone from the (Maryland Department of Agriculture) or maybe someone like Jim Perdue to do an interview but I thought the people on the film were good,” Schmidt said. “The only thing I would’ve changed would’ve been more representation from around the Shore, but when you’re trying to fit something into a small segment I understand that you have to limit the participants somewhat.”
“I think it could have been better,” Rhodes said. “We should have done more pictures (and footage) of corn, wheat and soybeans and explained a little more of the history of agriculture” on the Shore.
Producers said there are tentative plans to offer new episodes on a future YouTube channel that would focus more on specific topics, and farming is on the list to expand more.
One thing that filmmakers set out to do with the project is show how much the Shore draws allegiance from its residents (natives and new to the area) and those who have left the region but remember it with fondness.
“It’s amazing that you can get so many people from diverse backgrounds and they all have the same feeling about the Shore,” Scott said. “I thought it was great!”
Besides farming, the film also features people from watermen to local celebrities to conservationists to clergy to teachers to political insiders to authors.
“It’s why I love this place I call home,” said Rhodes, a grain and poultry farmer in Centreville, who also serves as Queen Anne’s County’s University of Maryland Extension agent. “Watching it made me feel very proud and a little emotional about being a lifelong resident.”
Rhodes, Schmidt and Scott each said they have used their social media pages to publicize the documentary, and said they’ve recommended it to friends.
The film is the brainchild of Troy Lowman, who grew up in Sudlersville. It was produced, written and directed by Lowman and Peter Ebanks.
The documentary is available to stream at www.loveletterstotheshore.com for $7.99 for Shore residents (and a complimentary movie poster) and $9.99 for non-Shore residents.
“I didn’t think the cost was relevant,” Schmidt said. “Folks pay money for Netflix and Amazon Prime, so costs should be a non issue.”
(Editor’s note: Kevin George is an associate producer and serves as narrator of the “Love Letters To the Shore” documentary.)