A Conversation with Katie Falkenberg, Photographer and Filmmaker

Katie Falkenberg's photography and filmmaking has taken her all over the world, and lucky for us - she's been calling the Rogue Valley home for a couple years now. Exquisitely and harmoniously capturing the world around her, she is documenting not only through the lens but also through her peaceful and loving spirit. Katie reached out to us in hopes of collaborating after falling in love with the co-op soon after moving here. Her film portfolio left us awe-struck and we were so excited to ask her to visit our local ranchers and farmers, to tell their stories through her thoughtful view. 

photograph by Katie Falkenberg
A homeless boy stands among men in a food line outside of a mosque in Lahore, Pakistan, during the holy month of Ramadan. Over a quarter of the Pakistan population lives below the poverty line.
Photograph by Katie Falkenberg

 

You have such a gift at capturing beautiful moments. How were you introduced to film and photography?

My Dad was also a photojournalist, so growing up I was around it all of the time. He even took me on a few gigs he had for National Geographic when I was really young! Once I got to middle school and high school, it seemed I always had a camera with me — whether it was my little purple point and shoot, or one of those old-school video cameras — I loved documenting my friends at summer camp, or on the weekends. I attended Warren Wilson College, a small liberal arts school in Asheville, North Carolina, and studied Studio Art. The summer before my senior year, I worked on a ranch in Colorado, and on my days off I would drive to local, small-town rodeos and photograph some of the the action, but mostly the behind-the-scenes moments, on one of my Dad’s old film cameras. It became my senior show, and afterwards, my Dad pointed out that what I had done was photojournalism. For some reason, I hadn’t looked at it in that way. But I knew I loved it, and that was what I wanted to pursue for my career.

In terms of filmmaking, I was lucky enough to be able to learn that on the job. I joined the staff of the Los Angeles Times as a still photographer in 2010, right around the time when photographers at newspapers were starting to also shoot video for the paper’s website. I instantly fell in love with this form of storytelling, and gravitated towards focusing on it with each large project I did for the paper.

 

photograph by Katie Falkenberg
A sugarcane worker plants sugarcane for next year's crop in the fields in southeast Dominican Republic.  
Photograph by Katie Falkenberg

 

What's your favorite thing about your craft?

Getting to tell people’s stories is such an honor to me, and easily my favorite thing about the job. Everyone has a story to tell, and I love being able to hear, and bear witness to each one. Filmmaking and photography have the ability to convey universal truths, and therefore, connect people from all walks of life. I find this to be so powerful and beautiful.

 

photograph by Katie Falkenberg
The Zika virus tore through Brazil in 2016, infecting thousands of pregnant women, many of whom, as a result, had babies born with microcephaly. At a hospital in Campina Grande, the wait is long for physiotherapy appointments for babies with microcephaly, so in the hallway outside of the therapy room, mothers gather and share coffee, cake and news about their babies. The hospital has become a refuge for families, a place where parents can find comfort and camaraderie amid all the uncertainty. “We’ve become a family here,” one mother said.
​​​​​​Photograph by Katie Falkenberg

 

What inspires you?

This area is so rich with inspiration for me. It seems each week I hear about an inspiring individual, or an important environmental issue happening in our valley, and it inspires me to dig deeper into it to see if I can shine a light on it through my photography or filmmaking. I love hearing about people who are making a difference — whether it’s through Almeda fire relief help, or young farmers exploring regenerative agriculture, or non-profits working on river restoration. There is an abundance of stories to be told in this valley, and I sometimes feel overwhelmed but also thrilled with all of the ideas!

What is the nourishing practice of self-care that you return to/What rejuvenates you?

Every day my dog, Mabel, and I will go for a trail run or hike in one of the many local forests. This is my favorite practice of self-care, and completely rejuvenating — especially this time of year when the air is crisp and the seasonal creeks and waterfalls are running.

Why do you shop at the co-op?

Supporting local farms has long been a priority to me, as well as eating clean, humanely raised food. When I first visited the coop, it just felt like “home” to me. During the early days when I was new to the area, and hardly knew a soul, whenever I would go to the co-op I just felt like I was around “my people,” and didn’t feel so lonely in a new town. I love the inclusive community the co-op creates and nurtures, and the way they give back to our sweet and incomparable community here in the Rogue Valley. Not to mention their mission to become carbon neutral and zero waste by 2030!

Do you have any tried & true favorites that you get from the Co-op?

Oh yes, the hot and salad bars are hands-down the best I have ever tasted anywhere - I wish I could just eat all of my meals from the prepared foods section! I specifically love the lentil nut and quinoa cashew loafs, and the chic pea salad. I have tried to re-create them at home, but they never taste nearly as good, so I’ve just given up for now. In the summertime, nothing compares to a Rolling Hills peach!

We are so proud to have the honor to work with our incredible farmers and ranchers, how was your visit with (will you tell us a little about each visit?):

Elissa at Magnolia Farms

Witnessing Elissa’s grace and grit was inspiring, and watching the way she worked with her border collies, and they in return worked the sheep - was such a neat experience for me. Elissa has such a peaceful elegance to her, and I loved watching the way the way she treated each and every one of her animals — from her sheep, to her dogs, to her chickens, with a certain tenderness and care. Elissa and I have remained in touch, and I recently was back on her farm filming lambing season! I am hoping to make a longer documentary following her throughout four seasons on her farm.

 

Holly and Troy of Emerald Hills

I absolutely loved pulling up to the Michaels’ family ranch and seeing Holly and Troy and two of their daughters, Sarah and Moriah, out near the barn. It’s a true family operation and I enjoyed watching the way they all worked together — from herding cattle on their four-runners, to changing out irrigation. Troy is a fourth-generation rancher and I loved hearing that their daughters are interested in taking over the ranch someday, becoming the fifth generation owners and operators.

 

Dave of Rolling Hills

Dave’s energy and his passion for the peaches he grows and sells at the Co-op is contagious and so awesome to witness. The highlight during this visit for me was seeing how, after more than 35 years, he is still so excited and passionate about what he does. The second highlight was watching his two yellow labs running through the orchards and eating peaches that had fallen off the limbs. He said sometimes they will eat them right off the tree! :)

 

It's so fun to vicariously live through all the ways you're exploring Southern Oregon on your @KatieFalkenberg feed, enjoying hot chocolate while skiing in the snow with your honey, fly-fishing with your lady crew, and running through the mountains with your pup. What do you love most about Southern Oregon so far?

I truly fall in love with this area more and more each day, and I often find myself thinking, “I am so lucky to live here!” The easy and abundant access to different forms of wilderness is unlike any place I have ever lived. From the mountains, to the incredible miles of trail systems, to the rivers and lakes within 15 minutes of home — you can’t beat it! And with these outdoor resources comes a community of like-minded folks that feeds my soul and makes me love this area even more.

Katie Falkenberg
Katie Falkenberg

Big thanks to Katie for sharing some of our local ranches and farms' stories in such a beautiful way, and taking the time to tell us more about herself, her craft, and her time in Southern Oregon. To learn more about Katie and see more of her exquisite work, please visit: katiefaulkenberg.com

More Co-op News

May Day Community Block Party

Photography by Chelsea Whitney Art

On May 1st, several Southern Oregon businesses came together for a block party to provide a space to gather as a community after a rough spell due to the pandemic and fires. The May Day Block Party was hosted on Main St in Phoenix, where the scent of food trucks mingled with artisan goods such as local cheeses, locally farmed flowers, and even fresh-baked pastries.

May Change for Good Recipient: Rogue Valley Farm to School

May's Change for Good Recipient is

Rogue Valley Farm to School

Rogue Valley Farm to School educates children about our food system through hands-on farm and garden programs, and by increasing local foods in school meals.

"We inspire an appreciation of local agriculture that improves the economy and environment of our community and the health of its members." 

A Visit with Rolling Hills

Visit Rolling Hills Farm and learn more about owner Dave Belzberg, who the Ashland Food Co-op is so honored to partner with for more than thirty five years.

A Visit with Magnolia Farms

 

 

 

Visit Magnolia Farms and learn more about owner Elissa Thau, who the Ashland Food Co-op is so honored to partner with for more than twenty years.

A Visit with Emerald Hills

Visit the Emerald Hills Ranch and learn more about this fourth generation ranching family that the Ashland Food Co-op is so proud to partner with for more than twenty years.

January Change for Good Recipient: Rogue Valley Mentoring

Since 2005, Rogue Valley Mentoring (formerly the Rose Circle Mentoring Network) has trained over 500 adults who have mentored over 2,000 youth in our valley; letting young people know that they are not alone. A caring and compassionate ear shows them that they matter, and they they are experts of their own experience.

Rogue Valley Mentoring Circle

Coronavirus Preparedness at the Co-op

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The Ashland Food Co-op acknowledges and shares our community’s concerns about protecting against the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). The safety and health of staff and customers is a top priority for the Co-op.

Shopping Safely & Efficiently

 

As coronavirus cases increase in Jackson County, the Co-op is taking extra precautions to protect shoppers and employees. 

To ensure social distancing in the store, the number of persons allowed in the store at once has been reduced to 50% capacity. Understandably, this may lead to a short wait outside of the store, but please be assured the line moves quickly.

In order to keep the wait as short as possible, here are a few steps you can take to help out:

10 Ways to Shine Your Light in Dark Times

By Allan Weisbard L.C.S.W.

 

Since 1963, autumn has been a difficult time for me. Two months shy of my 13th birthday I lost my younger brother to cancer, then shortly afterwards, President Kennedy was assassinated.