Videos on Vimeo
In the spring of 2021, Helen posted nine of her more significant programs on Vimeo where she felt they would be best showcased. They are listed below. Helen also continues to have nearly 90 posted on YouTube on three different channels: DCG1918, Gunderfriend, and RReveille. Her most popular YouTube post (over 129,000 hits), 1970s Farming, consists of home movies, filmed in the 1970s, of her father and neighborhood men and their farming activities. Her most significant YouTube video project in recent years includes two programs created from 1990 footage of Rolfe High School’s last graduating class (Class Activities, Class Interview).
Contrasts in Corn and Conservation
Premiered March 8, 2023
In 2022, Helen focused her documentary efforts on land auctions, large-scale farm operations, her own land, and the North Branch of Lizard Creek in Pocahontas County. She also hired a drone videographer. This video is her initial exploration of using that footage and discerning ideas for future visual essays about agriculture and is her personal, not-for-profit, commentary. The views are not attributable to any organization. The program contrasts the dominance of corn-growing in the county and the evolving, 240-acre, regenerative farm that Helen and the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation own with INHF and Practical Farmers of Iowa staff exploring avenues with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for restoring oxbows on the land.
URL for sharing this program https://gunderfriend.com/videos/#corn-and-conservation
Autumn and Solstice at Burnett Urban Farm
Premiered December 22, 2021
Helen produced this celebration of the fall season and winter solstice at her urban farm in Ames with string quartet music by her Rolfe High School near classmate Lee Thorson (formerly of Storm Lake and now in Iowa City, Iowa) and his colleagues. The video is dedicated to Helen’s feathered friends; her farming grandparents, the late John and DeElda Gunderson; and those people who have helped her make her urban farm into the wonderful place that it is.
URL for sharing this program https://gunderfriend.com/videos/#autumn-solstice
NW Iowa Organic Corn Harvest, 2021
Premiered November 1, 2021
Abram Frank (28) has farmed for Helen Gunderson (76) since 2019. By 2022, he will have all of her 500 some acres (minus those parcels in CRP conservation projects) in Pocahontas County, Iowa, certified as organic land. Both Abram and Helen believe in growing food on the land and are both lifetime members of Practical Farmers of Iowa. This version is a rough cut of footage Helen shot on October 16, 2021, of Abram harvesting corn at what they call her “Butterfly Farm” because the 90-acre, nearly rectangular crop field is surrounded by a USDA CRP pollinator habitat. Currently, there is no soundtrack.
URL for sharing this program https://gunderfriend.com/videos/#corn-harvest
Northwest Iowa Organic Black Bean Harvest
Premiered October 11, 2021
On September 25, 2011, Helen Gunderson of Ames, Iowa, videotaped her farm tenant, Abram Frank, in Pocahontas County, Iowa, as he and two colleagues harvested organic black beans–the first ever on Helen’s farm between the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and north of Crooked Creek west of Rolfe. There is not much to show, the footage was basic and not very diverse, yet Helen created not only a way to show the harvest to friends but to make a statement. She is grateful for her farm operator, Abram Frank, and the ways he has been completing the transition of her land to organic practices.
URL for sharing this program https://gunderfriend.com/videos/#black-bean-harvest
Premiered June 10, 2021
In June 2021, Helen learned that Ames city staff and council were proposing property standards for owner-occupied homes in the city that would match or at least be similar to standards already enacted for rental residences. One of the proposed rules would require that vegetation in the parking (the area between a sidewalk and curb) be limited to 12 inches in height. Not only would this new code mean Helen could no longer have her healthy prairie patch that has been in her parking for nearly a decade, but the code is contrary to past city hall messaging about the value of prairie patches in parkings.
City manager Steve Schainker wrote in an email message to Helen:
In order to facilitate citizen input, the City Council has scheduled a workshop on June 15, 2021 at 6:00 pm. in the City Council Chambers, 515 Clark Ave., to discuss the proposed Minimum Exterior Property Maintenance Code. Realizing that not everyone will be available to meet on that day, an online comment form to provide thoughts about each of the proposed standards is available at: www.cityofames.org/PropertyMaintenanceCode
URL for sharing this program https://gunderfriend.com/videos/#oh-beautiful
Springtime in Ames
Premiered April 16, 2021
“Springtime in Ames” consists of video footage Helen gathered of her urban farm, featuring her 10 laying hens, in early spring 2021. The soundtrack is rearranged music from a portfolio Emily Anderson of Story City originally created in 2009 for Helen to use with home movies she prepared for the 90th birthday party held for her father, Deane Gunderson. T0 watch the video, click on the start arrow on the video icon to the left.
URL for sharing this program https://gunderfriend.com/videos/#springtime-in-ames
Growing a Farming Homeplace on Urban Land
Premiered March 10th, 2021
Helen produced a seven-minute video for the City of Ames eco chat about gardening held on March 2, 2021. She has tweaked and expanded the video to create this new version. She is proud of the quality and variety of the visual images-and she has plenty more of them in her archived collection at the Iowa State University Parks Library University Archives and Special Collections. Although not knowing where this project will lead, she is enjoying experimenting with her documentary materials and being able to offer them along with her thoughts in video format. She may create a series on this and similar themes or a more feature length video in relation to the 175th anniversary of the State of Iowa. And FYI, that is this year (2021) and would be called a “dodransbicentennial.” T0 watch the video, click on the start arrow on the video icon to the left.
URL for sharing this video https://gunderfriend.com/videos/#farming-homeplace
Women in Agriculture: An Iowa Perspective
Helen produced the original version of this video for the 2016 annual Iowa meeting of American Association of University Women. She then updated it to this version in 2017 to show to the Palo Alto County chapter of AAUW in Emmetsburg, Iowa. The program contains memoir, oral history reminiscences about farm life in Pocahontas County in the 1900s, and a composite of music and images of modern day women in agriculture. T0 watch the video, click on the start arrow on the video icon to the left.
URL for sharing this video https://gunderfriend.com/videos/#women-in-agriculture
PFI Landowner Appreciation Award
Helen produced this video in 2014 as her “acceptance speech” that was shown at the Practical Farmers of Iowa annual conference where PFI honored her with its first ever landowner appreciation award.
URL for sharing this video https://gunderfriend.com/videos/#pfi-landowner
On Being at Home in the Garden
Helen originally wrote the poem “On Being at Home in the Garden” in 1988 when she was living in Saint Helena, California and produced a slide/sound show, using photographs she had taken at Wellspring Renewal Center in Philo, California. Dan Miller, who worked at Wellspring, created the music that Helen used in 1988 and when she updated the program with video footage in 2011. She shot all of the footage, except the last two scenes, for the 2011 version in her garden in Ames. The last two images are from a lone, 85-year-old Wealthy apple tree at her grandparents’ farm in Pocahontas County, Iowa. The farm is abandoned and the tree is gone, but Helen has an apple tree in her garden that she grafted from the homeplace tree. Amy Slagell read the poem, and Jim Coppoc provided sound help. Amy and Jim live in Ames. The 2011 version was produced to be used as the offertory at a Sunday morning program on earth-centered spirituality at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ames.
URL for sharing this video https://gunderfriend.com/videos/#on-being
Growing Against the Grain: Audubon County Family Farms
In 1999, Helen interviewed several members of Audubon County Family Farms in southwest Iowa about their efforts to build healthy food systems, maintain viable farms, put the culture back in agriculture, and restore a lost spirit to their communities through sustainable farming and direct marketing their produce to the consumer. Their thoughts form the basis for this video which was released in 2001 with support from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and the Practical Farmers of Iowa.
URL for sharing this video https://gunderfriend.com/videos/#growing-against
The Road I Grew Up On
Helen produced this video in 1997 about the changes in the rural neighborhood of Pocahontas County, Iowa, where she grew up in the 1940s and 1950s. It’s full title is The Road I Grew Up on: Requiem to a Vanishing Era. Originally, Helen had hoped to produce a longer program, but she completed only a 13-minute introduction. The video was funded in part by a grant from the Iowa Arts Council. Credits include: audio material from NPR’s Market Place program; film footage from Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company and Iowa State University; narration by Jack Shelley, Todd Mundt, and Rachel Jeffries; editing services from Kuhn Productions; music by John Berquist, Mary Sand, and Ed Carbrey; and support from Helen’s parents, Marion and Deane Gunderson, as well as other people from the rural neighborhood where Helen grew up.
URL for sharing this video https://gunderfriend.com/videos/#the-road
Doing Local History with Video
This program was produced in 1994 for use in workshops about doing local history with video in preparation for Iowa’s sesquicentennial in 1996. Helen collaborated with Bob Lindemeyer, associate director of the Media Resources Center at Iowa State University, to create the grant for the project, produce the video and conduct the workshops for libraries and historical societies who had received grants from the Iowa Sesquicentennial Commission to host the workshops. The video includes comments from resource people: Loren Horton, Senior Historian at the State Historical Society of Iowa; Mary Bennett, Special Collections Librarian at the State Historical Society of Iowa; Dorothy Schwieder, professor of history at Iowa State University; Rick Knupfer, Executive Director of the Iowa Humanities Board; Darlene Hudek, storyteller from Pocahontas; Ruth Ahlrichs, director of the Pocahontas Public Library. The GW Federation of Iowa Women’s Clubs provided funds that enabled the State Library of Iowa to distribute VHS copies of the program to all of the public libraries in Iowa. Copyright, 1994, by the Iowa State University Research Foundation and used with permission.
URL for sharing this program https://gunderfriend.com/videos/#local-history
A Portrait of Main Street Pocahontas
In 1992, Ruth Ahlrichs, director of the public library in Pocahontas, Iowa, asked Helen to help with an oral history project about the town, focusing on life on Main Street. The result was a 28-minute video done on a shoestring budget with help from a grant from the Iowa Humanities Board. Interviewees included: Eleanor Flaherty, Carol Hallman, Darlene Hudek, Jim Hudson, Emanuel Kraska, Charles Mayo, Leonard Olson, Howard Pattee, Goerge Stockdale, Pat Sturtz, and Justin Tolan. For further information: gunderfriend.com or pocahontas.lib.ia.us
URL for sharing this video https://gunderfriend.com/videos/#main-street-pocahontas
Gentle Giants: Window to Our Heritage
The town of Britt in north central Iowa hosts an annual draft horse show on Labor Day weekend. In 1991, six members of the Britt Draft Horse Association (Gordon Carlson, Bob Hiscocks, Melodie Hiscocks, Randy Hiscocks, Jim Wilcox, and Linda Schuster) spoke with Helen, who recorded their conversation and put their words together with images from the 1990 and 1991 shows to produce a 22-minute video for the organization. The project was supported in part by a grant from the Iowa Humanities Board.
URL for sharing this program https://gunderfriend.com/videos/#gentle-giants