Arkansas PBS will launch the new monthly agricultural podcast “The Growing Season” with host Ben Dickey Friday, May 13. The podcast will be available at myarpbs.org/thegrowingseason and wherever podcasts are found with a new episode the second Friday of each month.
“The Growing Season: An Agricultural Podcast” will follow the stories of six Arkansas farmers as they work through a year on their land. Listeners will get an inside look at what it truly means to be a farmer today, and the stressors and struggles that come with that commitment.
"Arkansans love our digital storytelling on all the platforms where they watch, and have loved our broadcast content for more than 50 years. Now we're sharing these important Arkansas stories in a whole new way through this new podcast. Special thanks to the Arkansas Department of Agriculture for being a strong partner in supporting this content," said Arkansas PBS CEO Courtney Pledger.
The journey begins in March when the farmers get to work in the fields, barns and greenhouses, planning for the upcoming year. In the spring, the season takes shape as the soil wakes up. The difficulties of the season will present themselves – broken equipment, underperforming crops, heavy loans and other stressors.
As the summer heat sets in, the work of the Arkansas farmer only gets tougher. The simple complications of springtime have grown into full-on worries and shortcomings for the season, but the work doesn’t let up. For a troubled farmer, summer months are all about keeping their head above water.
The end of summer means harvest – one final exhausting push to the finish line. Weary and exhausted, it’s only now that the farmer gets a clear understanding of how their growing difficulties will impact their day-to-day well-being.
Winter means putting everything away and planning to avoid the pitfalls of the previous year. A farmer must at once always be looking forward to the expectations of the next season and looking back at the complications of the last.
Episodes will address such topics as the unpredictable demands of the farming lifestyle; different types of stress and their effects on the body and mind; how the costs of farming have exploded with inflation; the wear and tear of never taking a day off; deteriorating mental health; the suicide rates among farmers; mental health and self-care; and more.
“The Growing Season” is hosted by Ben Dickey. Born in Arkansas in 1977, Dickey is a singer, songwriter, musician and actor. He has released two solo albums, “Sexy Birds and Saltwater Classics” and “A Glimmer on the Outskirts.” However, Dickey is best known for his role in “Blaze,” the 2018 film where he played the role of Blaze Foley, another musician from Arkansas. Dickey’s grandparents farmed in Arkansas for many years, and he is excited to lend his voice to telling their stories.
Farmers featured in the podcast include:
Podcast producers for the series include:
"Agriculture is an inherently stressful occupation that often requires individuals to work long hours and navigate through numerous factors that are beyond their control. The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is proud to partner with Arkansas PBS to tell the story of individuals that provide the food, fiber, fuel, and shelter that we all depend on every single day and what they do to keep our state’s largest industry successful into the future,” said Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward.
“The Growing Season” is funded through a Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network grant provided by the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA), and administered by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.
About Arkansas PBS
Arkansas PBS, Arkansas’s only statewide public media network, enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. Arkansas PBS delivers daily, essential, local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers through multiple digital platforms, including livestreaming at myarpbs.org/watchlive, on-demand services and YouTube TV, and the distinct channels Arkansas PBS, Arkansas PBS Create, Arkansas PBS KIDS, Arkansas PBS WORLD and Arkansas PBS AIRS on SAP. Members with Arkansas PBS Passport have extended on-demand access to a rich library of public television programming. Arkansas PBS depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. Additional information is available at myarkansaspbs.org. Arkansas PBS is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro), KETZ (El Dorado) and KETS (Lee Mountain).
At ACS, we believe that if we provide filmmakers an arena to exhibit their talents, and film enthusiasts a healthy diet of quality programming, we can inspire more Arkansans to make and watch more films. By supporting filmmakers, festivals, theaters and young people interested in filmmaking throughout the state, we hope to create statewide network, pool Arkansas’s resources and be an umbrella organization that feeds all things film. We believe a rising tide lifts all boats.
To be a filmmaker, we have to connect to create. A painter needs a brush, paint and a canvas. A director needs a writer, a cinematographer, a sound mixer, production designer, editor, actors, distributors, and an audience. We cannot do it alone. This art form forces one to collaborate and thus, creates jobs. Filmmaking is unique in the arts in this way. It takes an army.