“Digging In”

with Masika Henson – produced by Nathan.works in partnership with SAFSF and Vatheuer Family Foundation

Watch the Trailer

SAFSF is excited to offer our first documentary film, Digging In, to help funders begin to explore the wide-ranging effects of land access (or lack thereof), consolidation, and climate change on U.S. agriculture. Our film presents glimpses of how land access, consolidation and concentration, and climate change affect farmers and ranchers, rural communities and our agriculture, food, and fiber system as a whole. We hope the film will be a tool to start new conversations and spark systemic solutions that funders, nonprofits, farmers, and policymakers can work toward together. 

Land Access – Consolidation – Climate Change

The vision of SAFSF is that all resources invested in food and agriculture systems enhance our collective well-being. Each of the three issues we address in Digging In – land access, consolidation, and climate change – presents a complex series of challenges to achieving this vision.

We believe these three issues also serve as important points of entry and connection to practically all other Areas of Impact within the agriculture and food system that SAFSF members and other funders support.

We know this film barely scratches the topsoil and there is much more to dig into on each of these topics, with many questions that require much deeper analysis. At the same time, we are all keenly aware of the urgent need for action to move away from crisis and toward resilience before it is too late.


More research, committed collaboration and bold action – from grantmakers and investors, lawmakers and public officials, nonprofit leaders and community changemakers, farmers and consumers – are needed to shift public policy and funding, as well as on-the-ground agricultural practices to ensure and protect our collective well-being for ourselves and the generations to come.

The Role of Philanthropy

Shifts in both public policy and public funding are needed in order to effect change on these systems-level issues. The federal government is far and away the largest grantmaker and lender in the agriculture and food systems space, and is where the needed policy changes must be enacted. Philanthropic funding can fill the gaps in government programs and create capacity for a more diverse range of organizations and farmers to access federal funds. Philanthropy can also leverage its ability to fill these gaps and its relationships with practitioners and communities to advocate for changes that improve the outcomes and effectiveness of government programs.

Policy Change

Philanthropic funding can be most effective in resourcing nonprofit organizations and working farmers who advocate and lobby for needed policy changes. First and foremost, this means advocacy and lobbying to improve the way federal, state and local funding flows to communities.

For the past several years, SAFSF has offered robust policy programming for funders, including several workshops in partnership with Bolder Advocacy to demystify the rules and restrictions for nonprofit organizations and foundations related to advocacy and lobbying activities and funding. We encourage funders to explore these resources and to use the entire array of tools available to them under the law to push back against well-funded campaigns that hold current inequities in place.

More Equitable Distribution of Federal Resources

Private funders play an essential role in filling gaps in technical assistance (including grantwriting services to help under-resourced and historically disadvantaged groups access federal funds), providing matching funds for government grants, and funding project elements not covered under restrictive government funding programs. Philanthropy can provide bridge loans to cover cash flow for organizations awarded reimbursable grants or for farmers facing delays in loan or technical assistance programs. Equally important, philanthropy can continue to support grantees and practitioners in advocating for the reduction or elimination of matching fund requirements and the end of reimbursable grants to create more equitable access to government funding.

The Filmmakers

The filmmakers of Nathan.works impressed us with their approach to environmentally-aware, non-extractive storytelling. Read their reflections on the process of working with SAFSF and delving into these complex issues. We were fortunate to have them as partners in this journey.

Host a Screening

SAFSF is excited to make Digging In available for public screenings. We encourage wide distribution of the film, through both virtual and in-person screenings. Funders who wish to hold a screening are invited to help support the distribution of the film through a contribution for use. There is no charge for non-profit organizations, schools, community groups, policymakers and others who wish to screen the film for educational purposes. (For film festival or commercial inquiries, contact Nathan.works.)

To host a screening of Digging In, please complete our Screening Request Form. We will respond to your request within one week of receipt.

Please contact Holly Enowski, SAFSF Events and Administrative Associate, with any questions.