Film review: ‘THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM’ by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’
The Biggest Little Farm is a mostly uplifting but occasionally dispiriting documentary about people trying to live and run a farm in an environmentally sustainable way.
In 2010, Molly and John Chester were living in a small apartment with their rescue dog Todd. When Todd’s barking and tendency to chew everything in sight earned the landlord’s displeasure and saw them evicted, Molly and John decided on a radical be venture, starting a farm. This was to be no ordinary farm, though, their aim was to create an organic, environmentally friendly farm like those that existed before industrialised agriculture. Having purchased a 200-acre property in the foothills of California’s Ventura Valley, they were faced with the challenge of resurrecting neglected and near-dead land. For this monumental task they sought the advice of Svengali-like organic farming expert Alan York whose methods and hippy aphorisms at first sounded dodgy but proved remarkably effective.
This film is largely about the power and complexity of nature which is both magnificent and daunting. Molly and John’s attempt to live in harmony with nature while also trying to control it and impose human imperatives of a commercial farm prove endlessly problematic. They’re besieged by pests and predators including hungry aphids, snails, gophers, fruit munching birds and chicken-killing coyotes. They’re also forced to battle drought, flood and fire and hurricane-like wind storms. Amid these destructive dramas, new life, both plant and animal, continues to sprout giving them a shred of hope to cling to.
With Molly and John’s optimistic and soothing narration, images of perky young farm workers enthusiastically bringing in the harvest and occasionally partying like backpackers, sprightly music and quirky animated interludes, The Biggest Little Farm at times seems idealistic. Also, it’s clearly an ad for this particular farm and its brand but above all of this it’s a vital call to return to a more sustainable way of living to enhance our ecosystems and food security.
Nick’s rating: ***1/2
Director(s): John Chester.
Release date: 16th Jan 2020.
Running time: 91 mins.
Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM. Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. http://subcultureentertainment.com/2014/02/the-good-the-bad-the-ugly-film-show