Three Alabama farmers were ready for their close-up as RFD-TV’s “FarmHer” film crew turned fields into primetime TV scenery.
Episodes will feature Pickens County row crop farmer Annie Dee of Dee River Ranch, along with sisters Cassie Corcoran Young and Allie Corcoran of Backyard Orchards in Barbour County. The segments will air on RFD-TV this fall.
“I told Marji it was my highest honor to date to have her on the farm,” said Dee, whose family’s 10,000-acre farm includes row crops and livestock.
Marji Guyler-Alaniz is founder of FarmHer, a business that highlights women in agriculture. She also hosts the TV program “FarmHer,” which focuses on female farmers coast to coast.
Guyler-Alaniz’s scorching May visit was the show’s first in Alabama. The Corcoran sisters’ horticulture operation and Dee’s farm will shine a spotlight on the state’s diversity in “FarmHer” season four.
“At Annie’s farm, the scale and such a strong focus on sustainability was impressive,” said Iowa native Guyler-Alaniz. “From being an early adopter of cover crops to their water conservation and no-till efforts, it was neat to see how much everyone at Dee River Ranch cares about the land.”
The four-man TV crew — two cameramen, a producer and Guyler-Alaniz — spent a day near Aliceville shooting row crops, visiting a reservoir and interviewing Dee and her family.
Dee, who serves on the United Soybean Board, said her goal was to highlight the importance of soil health. Dee River Ranch is also home to state-of-the-art technology that shoots for maximum efficiency, like a programmable irrigation system and 80-foot-tall Wi-Fi tower.
After shooting in Pickens County, the RFD-TV team headed southeast to the outskirts of Eufaula. By 10 a.m. the next day, stage lighting filled the Backyard Orchards farm store, the Corcoran sisters were mic’d up, and Guyler-Alaniz was in interview mode.
Questions ranged from learning the sisters’ farming background (they grew up on a row crop farm) to how they manage responsibilities (Cassie works full time on the farm while Allie is an Alabama Extension agent).
“In my mind, I downplayed the visit a lot, but once Marji and the crew got here, I realized how big of a deal it is,” Cassie said. “I hope people realize what all goes into farming — what it takes to make a place like this run and how our work is different from row crop production.”
The sisters led Guyler-Alaniz through their U-pick and fruit and vegetable fields, stopping to sample the fruits of their labor — like blueberries, strawberries and peaches — along the way.
“At the Corcorans’, I was impressed at how they pulled together to build up their dream,” Guyler-Alaniz said. “My favorite thing about ‘FarmHer’ is getting to meet and hear the stories of absolutely amazing women all around the country.”
For Allie, seeing the crew set up shop on the farm was enlightening.
“It was interesting to see how everything happens, from the interview questions to how long it takes to get the lighting right,” she said.
The Corcorans said “FarmHer” wasn’t the first TV show crew they’d welcomed to the farm, though its national audience outnumbers viewers of local features about weather and growing seasons.
Allie said the process made her grateful for leadership training with the Alabama Farmers Federation, which prepared her for large-scale interviews.
“If I hadn’t done that scale of public speaking before, I would have been dumbfounded,” she said.
Over three years, “FarmHer” has visited 121 farmers in 23 states. Choosing which farms to visit isn’t easy, Guyler-Alaniz said, thanks in part to a large number of nominations through the website Suggest.FarmHer.com.
“The person who submitted the Corcorans really gave us a great amount of information. Those detailed forms jump out when we decide which states to visit,” she said. “I’d met Annie in the past. When the opportunity to visit Alabama came up, we just knew Annie was one of the farmers we needed to highlight.”
Dee said she enjoyed sharing her story with the engaging, down-to-earth Guyler-Alaniz — and a national audience.
“It’s a great honor to be respected in my field,” Dee said. “That I’m a woman is just a side bar.”
Watch “FarmHer” on RFD-TV Fridays and Sundays at 8:30 p.m. or by visiting farmher.com.