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BYU professors premiere documentary film that preserves the history of Orem's orchards

The Brigham Young University Departments of History and Theatre and Media Arts will present the premiere screening of "The Best Crop: A History of Orchard Farming in the Orem Area."

This documentary film chronicles Orem's history as a fruit-growing town which grew according to the rhythms of the orchards, changed according to local farmers' needs, and today struggles to define itself as its orchards are replaced by suburbs, shopping malls and office complexes.

The premiere will take place at the Orem High School Auditorium, 175 South 400 East, on Monday, Dec. 2, 2002, at 7 p.m. A musical performance by the local group Lincoln Highway will begin the evening, followed by the screening at 7:30 p.m. and ending with a question-and-answer session with the filmmakers at 8:30 p.m.

The program will air locally on the PBS station KBYU-TV (Channel 11) on January 19, 2003, at 7 p.m.

For the last three years, students and faculty in the History and Theatre and Media Arts Departments have been collecting stories of orchard farming in Orem and its surrounding communities.

By filming the stories and images of the orchards, the professors-Gary Daynes, Richard Kimball and April Chabries-sought to describe the significance orchards once held in the local economy, explain their disappearance and evaluate the effect of their absence on life in Utah County.

According to Daynes, "Orchards not only gave geographical and economic shape to Orem, but also gave meaning to the lives of thousands of people who worked on them over the years."

"The stories people tell make it clear that while farmers in Orem did not ignore economic considerations, those considerations were part of a broader fruit-growing culture, one that emphasized religious devotion, family ties, community cooperation, and a beautiful, well-ordered landscape," he said. "Fruit culture thus became the basis for creating a coherent, sustainable community."

As an Orem resident, Chabries wanted to preserve an important part of the local heritage. "Growing up in this area, my sense of home was based on orchards, and as I watched them disappear I wanted to visually capture the natural beauty found on the farms."

"We wanted to know what kind of lessons people learned from living that kind of lifestyle," says Daynes. "What was it like getting up before the crack of dawn to irrigate crops, and how did it feel to spend countless hours picking fruit?"

Although many orchards have been replaced by homes and shopping centers, Daynes says the orchards determined much of Orem's personality, layout and atmosphere.

Writer: April Chabries

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