Hephzibah filmmaker Joseph Barnhart wants to share the story of Georgia’s peanut industry with a worldwide audience.
“It’s extremely important to this state, and this is a crop that goes all the way back into ancient history,” the third-generation farmer said.
Barnhart has spent two years collecting footage for his documentary, Growing Peanut Butter, and this week he launched a campaign to raise $12,000 needed to complete the project.
So far, he has visited farms, processing sites – even the Georgia Museum of Agriculture in Tifton, to help tell the story of a plant whose cultivation began centuries ago in Peru and migrated to North America and other continents.
Richmond County Extension Service Director Sid Mullis, who appears in the film, said Georgia grows half the nation’s peanut crop, with a statewide impact of more than $2 billion a year.
“The goal of this film is to bring positive attention to this little-known industry,” he told an audience at the Augusta Museum of History, where a trailer for the film was previewed Tuesday.
The feature film is expected to be 45 to 65 minutes long, Barnhart said. It could be used for educational programming and entertainment.
He is using the fundraising platform Kickstarter to raise additional money. Barnhart also relies heavily on help from family and friends.
“It’s great to have a family that will get up at 5 a.m. and drive you four hours to interview someone,” he said. “It is a challenge.”
In addition to exploring today’s peanut industry, the film will include details of farming practices that have begun to vanish, including the use of mules and peanut stacking.
Reach Rob Pavey at (706) 868-1222, ext. 119,