One farm lies 8 feet below sea level, in the peat meadows of the Netherlands. The other farm is at 750 feet in the hills of Vermont in the USA. But they have so much in common: the same family has been farming each one for three generations; they witnessed prosperity, and the increase in scale of agriculture; each made the leap to organic farming. Photographer and writer Ellen Kok wanted to understand how small family farms like these keep going. Without farmers, there is no food. But why does someone become a farmer, and how important is tradition in that choice? Is it a calling or an obligation? Does the family farm have a future in a global market that demands mass production and low prices? In search of answers to these questions for eleven years she followed life on American Lilac Ridge Farm and Dutch farm De Beekhoeve.
Ellen Kok is a Dutch photographer and writer who combines photo essays with written stories. She firmly believes storytelling is an important art, that can open eyes and connect people. Her photography is based on trust and intimacy. She studied at the School for Journalism in Utrecht, the Netherlands, before working as a photography critic for several Dutch newspapers and photography magazines and as a freelance photographer. In recent years she has been working mainly on long-term documentary projects, which all revolve around the lives of young people. They are among the most vulnerable members of our society, she believes, and how we treat them says a great deal about our culture. Ellen is based in Linschoten, the Netherlands and Drewsville, New Hampshire, USA, where she recently completed her books "Cadets" and "The Other Farm," and is working on one more, "American Moments." Her work has been exhibited internationally. Recent solo shows: Cadets at Nationaal Onderwijs Museum in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, 2013; The Other Farm at Stadsmuseum Woerden, the Netherlands, 2015; Cadets at Photoville in New York, USA, 2015. Ellen does her own production and publishes under her imprint “Netherlight.” You can buy her books at www.cadets.us or www.otherfarm.us and at Amazon.