Coming to Ground


Farmers find the ground shifting under them; add rising energy costs, soil and water depletion, and climate change; this could be a moment of catastrophic change

Clear selection

Product Description

In broad and beautiful strokes, the film draws attention to the urgent necessity of and positive models for revitalizing local food systems.

A celebrated, award-winning film, Coming to Ground chronicles  a sea change in farming and food culture, and one state’s work to end 300 years of mono-cropping tobacco.


This film shows a classic drama of how change is made, the struggle of farmers, government officials, and policy makers as they try to move away from dependency on ‘traditional’ industrial, petroleum fueled farming methods and the global tobacco market to a more sustainable and sane agricultural economy.  Since 2002 there has been an explosion of crop diversity, environmental innovation, sustainable and organic farms, along with sharp growth in farmer’s markets, regional infra-structure and agricultural enterprise. This is the story of how farmers, food policy reform and agricultural thinkers came together in an unprecedented movement to change agriculture in Kentucky.

Coming to Ground features Mary Berry, founder of The Berry Center, Wes Jackson, founder of The Land Institute, Roger Thomas and John-Mark Hack from the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy, farmers Bill Best, Ann Bell Stone, John Seymour, Laura Riccardi Lyvers, among others.  Moon over Fox Hollow-other angle

“Coming To Ground features many depictions of agricultural change that are extremely valuable for classroom use, but I particularly liked the sections linking soil fertility and cattle grazing, and Mary Berry’s reflections on change, “didn’t think they saw any change occurring, but later realized it was going on, to get where they are today.” Great job.” Dr. Deb Nehr, Professor and Chair, Department of Plant & Soil Science, University of Vermont


“Coming to Ground is precisely the documentary the nation, needed. In broad and beautiful strokes, the film draws attention to the urgent necessity of and positive models for revitalizing local food systems. It does so by sharing stories of Kentucky’s most influential leaders in the shift to small-scale agriculture. The film shows the positive potential in the confluence of humane farming, politics, and economics, in part by describing the pivotal role the Burley Tobacco Growers’ Co-Operative had in facilitating stable markets for farmers and protecting them from the whims of the economy. These protections, in turn, encouraged sustainable land distribution and close-knit rural communities.

By tracing the devastating effects of the Burley legislation’s demise—namely, rural outmigration and pressure to get big or get out—Coming to Ground provides a glimpse of what happens when farmers lose the mechanisms that guaranteed their leverage…

Coming to Ground profiles a handful of Kentucky’s resolute farmers, businesses, and advocacy groups that have invested those funds in ways that allow them to cultivate healthy soil and seed, work within manageable scales, bolster local economies. In so doing, these farmers show that the short-lived industrial model isn’t the only way farming can be done.

The film tacitly calls for policy and practice that support farmers in the way the Burley Tobacco Grower’s Co-op program once did. This, it suggests, is one way to ensure that farming remains a viable vocation and that young people can take over their family farms.”  Dr. Leah Bayens, Berry Farming and Ecological Agrarianism,  St. Catharine College

Mary Berry-web

 Mary Berry, vintner and founder of The Berry Center



2014 Screening, Biodynamic Association National Conference, Louisville, Kentucky

2013  Screening – Xavier University – Xavier Sustainability sponsored Coming to Ground in collaboration with Green Umbrella, IMAGO, InterFaith Business Builders.

2013  Screening – The Living Room Theater, Portland, Oregon

2013  Official Selection Athens International Film and Video Festival

2013  Screening – Vernonia Grange, Vernonia, Oregon

2013  Screening – Dairy Creek Community Food Web Film Series at Forest Grove Grange Hall,  Oregon

2012  Screening – BlueGrass Bioneers at the University of Louisville

2012  Screening – Community Farm Alliance’s “Farm Night Out” at Lazy Eight Stock Farm, Berea, Kentucky


2012    Kentucky Educational Television broadcasts, 2012, 2013, 2014.


Wes Jackson, author and founder of The Land Institute


Bill Best, farmer, heirloom seed collector and distributor



Produced and directed by Jean Donohue and Fred Johnson, Consulting Producer Gurney Norman, in association with Media Working Group, Inc.

For more information about the production visit COMING TO GROUND.ORG


DVD 86 min.



Additional Information


DVD – Institutional, DVD – Home


There are no reviews yet, would you like to submit yours?

Be the first to review “Coming to Ground”