Joseph Barnhart is nuts – about the peanut industry, that is.
The Hephzibah filmmaker is working on a documentary, Growing Peanut Butter, and launched a campaign at the end of last month to raise the $12,000 he needs to complete the project.
During the project, he has visited farms and processing sites, as well as the Georgia Museum of Agriculture in Tifton. Georgia grows about half the nation's peanut crop, with a statewide impact of more than $2 billion annually.
Barnhart said his film is expected to be about 45-65 minutes long, and could be used for educational programming, as well as entertainment. The film will explore the peanut industry, as well as farming practices that are endangered, such as the use of mules and peanut stacking. It also follows the production process from planting to manufacturing.
Barnhart knows farming, having grown up in a farming family himself. He has been working on the documentary for two years, collecting footage and interviewing farmers. And he's done this with lots of help from his family – Barnhart faces physical disabilities that keep him from driving.
"Having grown up on a farm, I understand the hard work it takes and the little financial reward that one has as a farmer. As I have been disabled all my life, I am unable to do much of the physical labor that a farm requires. This production is one way I can give back to this little-appreciated area of industry," he said.
Another obstacle has been lack of funding.
"My family runs a small farm. Between this and my fixed income, we don't have much to work with financially," he said. "This is the most original full-length feature film on this important subject that we know of to date. Regardless of my physical situation and limited means otherwise, this production has been coming together against all the odds to hinder it."
In July, Barnhart's project was approved for a fundraising campaign through Kickstarter Inc., a funding platform for creative projects. It is through this organization he hopes to raise the remaining funds needed to complete and release the film.
"I just want people to know where their food comes from and what it takes to get their food to them," said Barnhart.
Barnhart will attend a press conference regarding the project on Sept. 3 at 5:30 p.m. at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center. To find out more about the project, go online at www.growingpeanutbutter.com. You can view the trailer on Barnhart's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Growing-Peanut-Butter-An-Original-Documentary/239933442734519.
To contact editor Angye Morrison, call 382-4321.