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Sur la terre / Out on the Land

A Bilingual Documentary Film Series

Directed and photographed by Louise Abbott with aerial footage by Niels Jensen and post-production assistance from Vito DeFilippo.

After the novel coronavirus health crisis struck Quebec in 2020, I didn't want to simply wait it out at home. As a documentary filmmaker, I strive to bear witness to the world around me.  Serendipitously, I received a notice from the Stantead Historical Society archives, requesting members to "document events surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic in the Stanstead area ... [and] educate future generatinos on how the population of our region weathered this exceptional ordeal."

I took up the challenge but extended the geographical boundaries. I investigated the pandemic's impact on Townshippers who toil out on the land to ensure our food supply. I filmed a series of family farmers (beef, dairy, sheep) and producers (maple syrup, organic vegetables), exploring the normality and abnormality of their lives during this unprecedented time. When I became aware that more and more Townshippers were raising food at home, I added a particularly committed and knowledgeable home gardener to the project.

The Stanstead Historical Society presented the Out on the Land film series in an exhibition of the same name at the Colby-Curtis Museum (June 4 to September 19, 2021). The documentaries are now available online. I hope that viewers will gain insight into the lives, hearts, and minds of Townships farmers and growers who are coping with more challenges than ever.

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My thanks to the municipality of Ogden, the MRC Memphremagog, and the Quebec Minister of Culture and Communications for the funding they provided to help me finish the films.

Louise Abbott

To read an article about The Sugarmakers, please visit page 15 of the Westmount Independent:

The Sugarmakers was televised on WNED PBS (Buffalo-Toronto) in February 2022. It is available for streaming on the PBS website or on Vimeo.

The other films in the Out on the Land series can be seen on Vimeo.

Nancy Wing, Farmer:

The Ecological Gardener:

Maple Drive Farm:

Jardin du Quartier:

Sheep and Syrup:

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