As descendants of farmers, miners, and ranchers we’ll admit to having a starry-eyed dream of one day owning a self-sustaining family farm free of utility companies and complete with chickens and goats and loyal ranch dogs.
That dream has lasted a long time, our mentors making regular attempts to quash it by volunteering us for duty on actual farms and ranches over the years. The stars tend to go out of your eyes when you’re mucking out a barn, ankle-deep in horseshit.
It was with some anticipation that we signed up recently to watch “The Biggest Little Farm,” a small movie about two people eager to leave the city and find some room for themselves and their dog, buying a rundown farm and bringing it back to life and profitablity.
Now, having investigated this very thing we’ll say we were dubious when the filmmaker and his food blogger wife magically acquired some 200+ acres of farmland in Moorpark, California and set out to farm their way – using regenerative soil methods and converting arid, neglected fields into a micro-ecosystem mimicking the biological balance found in our earth’s ecosystem.
Whew. And, yeah, we think about things like this. John and Molly Chester, the adventurers in this ecological experiment, named their piece of heaven Apricot Lane Farms.
That’s the easy part. Then came the planting, aeration, finding ways to restore hardpan soil into something capable of sustaining life, bringing farm animals onto their property while keeping predators at bay, ailing animals, the hope of a new crop crushed by pests or scavengers. While the filmmakers gloss over some of the sundry bits of how they managed to pay for the land, the equipment, and the animals we are introduced to their mentor and brought along for the ride as the couple attempts to navigate farm life.
All the dreamy imagery they may have held starting out gives way to cold reality as coyotes and wildfires close in, John is forced to do what he swore not to – take lives – in order to protect his farm and Ma Nature forces him to pick up the gun.
It’s the latter half of the movie that was most interesting to us as the couple began to look for – and find – natural methods of solving crop-eradicating problems. Their mentor said it would take seven years of often back breaking labor for the farm to achieve the level of environmental self-sustainability that the couple longed for, and it turns out he was right.
OUR RECOMMENDATION: Well worth the time.
WHY WE LIKED IT: Once we get past the romantic visions of life on a farm, harsh realities arise and we are invited along as our voyagers deal with those realities.
The Biggest Little Farm
Available on YouTube, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV.