The “midtail” of the Web has been touted as the place to find professionally produced, niche content that targeted audiences engage with. After chasing premium tail on Entourage as Vincent Chase for the last five years, Adrian Grenier has set his sights on the middle with his multi-platform production company, SHFT, which is committed to creating content for the modern eco-conscious lifestyle. The latest documentary series, “Young Farmers,” highlights 10 individual farmers who are engaged in the sustainable farming movement. The series is available exclusively on Lockerz.com, a site focused on building niche communities.
Launched October 20th, “Young Farmers” focuses on the influences and motivation for these farmers to grow their own food. Morgan, featured in the first episode, learned about farm-to-table while studying abroad. Aileen, from episode five, is influenced by the similarities between music and gardening. Episode seven’s Zoe finds serenity and comfort in her vegetable garden.
Roughly four minutes long, each episode introduces a new “Young Farmer,” who walks the viewer through their philosophy on eco-farming, their favorite vegetables, and their day-to-day activities. One young farmer, Willa, walks viewers through her garden, tasting different vegetables, from basil that tastes like chocolate, or pineapple, or…pee. Odd, and not for everyone.
Other episodes are more educational. If you’re interested the “orgy of decomposition” that bacteria and worms create, bringing a balance of nitrogen and carbon that results in “bad-ass compost,” be sure to check out Episode Six with Dwight. Significantly more engaging than Willa, Dwight juxtaposes his former baseball jock life with his new, eco-friendly lifestyle, all while making dirt seem almost interesting. “I’m going to be dirt one day. Knowing that I’m not any more special than the scraps that are breaking down is humbling,” he says while walking through a compost pile barefoot.
In the final episode of the series, farmer Mitch explains how he turned his backyard into a garden as a way of balancing his idealistic views that he learned in college with the practicality of being an adult with financial responsibilities. He turned his passion into a profession, launching a business taking care of other people’s gardens. He caters to people who have the means, but not the time, to commit to sustainable farming. Like most of the farmers in the series, Mitch also reminds us that most people have lost touch with where the majority of our food comes from.
Like many celebrity-backed Web series, “Young Farmers” is a passion project for Grenier. It puts a focus on sustainable living through personal, if not always terribly interesting, stories of people in a generation more closely associated with iPods and narcissism than bettering the planet. This isn’t going to be, and isn’t intended, to be the “I Love Lucy” of the Web. But it does stand for something. The Web isn’t really mass media, after all, it’s a mass of niches. “Young Farmers” couldn’t exist on TV. Or if it did, you can imagine just how awful it would be as an MTV series. But on the Web, Grenier can indulge his crunchy impulses — and there should be an audience for it. Mind you, not necessarily a large audience but an audience nonetheless.
“Young Farmers” is supported by a simple pre-roll before each episode, but at first seemed awkwardly paired for such niche, eco-friendly content. The 5-Hour Energy ad could be seen as an alternative to less eco-friendly coffee farms. Bertucci’s, another advertiser, does highlight their chef’s history of working directly with producers and growers. The Discover Ireland pre-roll still confuses me contextually.
Overall, “Young Farmers” isn’t going to win over a huge audience, but that hardly seems the point here. For people who are interested in sustainable farming, eco-friendly living, and other general green living, “Young Farmers” looks to be high quality, evergreen content worth a few minutes of your time.
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