Award-winning documentary showcases Marin farm families

The Issue

Most people don’t think of Marin County, Calif., in terms of its agriculture and ranches. Marin has the highest per capita income in the U.S., leading many to believe it is nothing more than a Bay Area bedroom community for the wealthy. UC Cooperative Extension Marin staff saw a need to educate the public about Marin’s extraordinary community of farmers and ranchers. Unbeknownst to many, traditional cattle, dairy, and sheep ranchers blend with oyster farmers, cheese makers, and vegetable producers in rural West Marin. Marin dairies even provide 20 percent of the Bay Area’s milk.

What Has ANR Done?

UCCE Marin director Ellie Rilla and sustainable agriculture coordinator Steve Quirt set about writing a script for “Hidden Bounty of Marin,” a 27-minute documentary focusing on the lives and work of nine farm families. The film was produced by Novato Public Access Television, with funding provided by the Marin Community Foundation, Marin County Board of Supervisors, and California Communities Program, UC Davis.

The Payoff

Public awareness of Marin County agriculture has risen

Thousands of people have viewed “Hidden Bounty of Marin,” bringing them a new awareness and appreciation for the hard-working West Marin residents who produce their food and keep Marin County agricultural traditions alive. When shown at schools, it introduces a new generation to the rich agricultural tradition of West Marin. "I use the video with my 4th-grade students who are studying sustainability. We paused it between farmers' stories, responded to discussion points, and sampled local food items. The movie is the next best thing to going to the farms and meeting the farmers personally," said Brian Kaplan, teacher at San Domenico School. The documentary has aired on public television stations, been screened at many different venues from San Francisco to Sacramento, and is available for schools, libraries, and the public in DVD format. It has also been posted on YouTube. The film features gorgeous cinematography and is narrated by Peter Coyote. It has received the 2009 WAVE award for Best Documentary Profile from the Alliance for Community Media, and the 2009 Best Documentary award at the Marin County Festival of Short Film and Video.

Clientele Testimonial

"Celebrating its food-farm connections, Hidden Bounty features the Marin community gastronomic players in their glory and drama. This visual representation of the emotions, economics and ecology that drive local food success leaves the viewer hopeful and empowered. Few foodsheds have been as progressive as Marin in connecting all the dots." --Joel Salatin, Polyface Farms


Supporting Unit: Marin County

Steve Quirt, (415) 499-4204,