Film Highlights Kansas Farming In The Mid-Twentieth Century

Nov 9, 2012

A premiere of the film Harvesting the High Plains will take place Friday at Wichita's Orpheum Theatre.

The film takes western Kansas from the 1930's Dustbowl to post World War II and was inspired by a book of the same name written by the late Craig Miner, former Wichita State professor and Kansas historian.

Director Jay Kriss says the film is a story about a farming operation that started in the middle of the Dustbowl but basically turned the American desert into the breadbasket of the world.

"We saw at Kansas and all the Great Plains went through a revolution of sorts during the Dustbowl and agriculture and what they learned during that time gave birth to the massive economy that grew on the Great Plains after that," he says.

The story follows Wichita entrepreneur Ray Garvey and Jay's grandfather farmer John Kriss. The two men partnered together in 1933 to make a farm in Colby a reality.

Kriss says they worked side by side.

"They wrote letters to each other like we write e-mails today and these letters were kept by Mr. Garvey and so we had every letter that these guys had penned back and forth," he says.

"Over 10,000 documents and so the film is actually taken in their words as they describe every challenge, every triumph, every problem they had throughout the entire thing."

The film uses historic footage and recreates the actual farming methods and equipment from the period, transforming the high plains. Harvesting the Plains will premiere at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Wichita Friday

at 7.