The Biggest Little Farm – Documentary
First Hit: Inspiring to see how nature taught this couple how to work within earth’s elegant framework.
This is a story for all of us. Nature has created its own way of balancing life, death, and survival. We humans, when we don’t look, watch, and listen, don’t learn about how the system works. This film shows us a couple, Molly and John Chester, who learned how nature works, all because their rescue dog Todd barked for freedom.
Todd, a filmmaker, and cinematographer, and his wife Molly who was a foodie and food blogger, together with the persistence of their rescue dog Todd found themselves buying a rundown, desolate 200-acre Apricot Lane Farm in Moorpark, CA.
The story of how Todd barked his way to the farm is every dog owner’s and apartment renter’s nightmare. Todd barked all day, every day when left alone, and finally, the landlord evicted the Chester’s.
This spurred Molly and John to fulfill Molly’s dream of growing everything they ate while blogging about the experience along the way. Selling the idea to friends, family, and other small investors, they looked for a farm to buy.
The farm they found, Apricot Lane Farm, was broken in every sense of the word. The irrigation pond was dried up, the dirt was lifeless and had no nutrients, and almost nothing was alive. They bought it anyway.
Investing in Alan York, a man who believed farms can and need to work within nature’s flow of life helped guide the Chester’s in what to farm, and how to build an infrastructure that works. There are times, I wondered if Alan was off his rocker or a charlatan, but slowly, just as he said it would, the land began to work in harmony.
The movie is filled with heartbreaking, loving, and most of all, fascinating moments where I found myself learning just as the Chester’s were learning. I suspect, everyone in the San Rafael theater, where I saw this film, learned something. One lesson I learned from John was when Todd taught him how to look and learn about how things work. Embracing the art of patient seeing, the whole framework of how John approached new issues shifted.
Along with the gritty pain of learning, there was also humor. Emma, the pig, and Greasy, the rooster, are great to watch. There’s even humor in a scary event. After Molly packing everything in the home she wanted to flee a raging fire (which both starts and ends the film), the comical moment arrives when it is revealed what Molly decided to pack up as they readied to leave their farm because of the fire threat.
This film has it all. But mostly it has a lesson for us. Nature knows how the world works, and very few of us abide by that native code.
John Chester and Mark Monroe wrote this wonderfully paced story. Chester also directed this film and his ability to capture some of the most amazing photographs of nature only added to this excellent story.
Overall: Molly’s inspiration and Todd’s persistence has given us a lesson on how things work.