the biggest little farm
DIRECTOR: john chester (debut)
REVIEWER: lyall carter
Documentarian John Chester and his wife Molly work to develop a sustainable farm on 200 acres outside of Los Angeles.
For city slickers there is always the dream to leave the rat race behind and have a little farm on away from it all. The Chester’s along with their dog Todd decide to do this and to create, love, and grow The Biggest Little Farm.
When the barking of their beloved dog Todd leads to an eviction notice from their tiny LA apartment, John and Molly Chester make a choice that takes them out of the city and onto 200 acres in the foothills of Ventura County, naively endeavoring to build one of the most diverse farms of its kind in complete coexistence with nature. The land they've chosen, however, is utterly depleted of nutrients and suffering from a brutal drought. The film chronicles eight years of daunting work and outsize idealism as they attempt to create the utopia they seek, planting 10,000 orchard trees and over 200 different crops, and bringing in animals of every kind- including an unforgettable pig named Emma and her best friend, Greasy the rooster.
Watching The Biggest Little Farm with my wife and my cat Theo (he loved this film even more than The Secret Life of Pets) was intriguing. Having grown up on a farm this was nothing new; cover crops, mastitis in animals, floods, and pests killing animals and crops. But for Emily it was all discovery and she was utterly mesmerized (she may want to go farming now - watch out bank balance).
But for the both of us The Biggest Little Farm was a reminder of the power, beauty, and glory of the natural world. Its utterly magnificent from the lady bird to the huge, suckling pig and as we work with nature we will see her bounty.
As a farmers kid though it was frustrating watching the Chester’s not deal with pests. I was silently screaming at the screen, ‘Just shoot the coyote!’ or ‘that fence is not going to keep out the coyote!’ But it was incredible when as John stood back and watched and waited he realised how even the coyote played a part in regulating the farm and its crops. Even pests had a part to play.
Also you can tell that John Chester is from a film background as the quality of the images captured in all their raw beauty is astounding. The Biggest Little Farm is inspiring that as we work with nature, not try to dominate it, we will be able to share in its bounty.
Inspiring and gorgeous to look at, The Biggest Little Farm will inspire you to quit your city job and head for the green pastures of the countryside.