Monday, April 29, 2019

“The Biggest Little Farm” Transforms Land Into a “Farmville” Reality

By José Alberto Hermosillo
“The Biggest Little Farm” is captivating, environmentally inspiring, and organically stimulating. A documentary about all the excitement of running a farm successfully in California. A total winner!
The Biggest Little Farm mural at the Arclight, Hollywood. 
Photo José A. Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
Facing eviction from their tiny urban apartment in Santa Monica, John and Molly Chester needed to find a new place to live in, something with a backyard where their dog Todd can bark as much as he wants. 
 Molly and John Chester ©2019 Neon
The California couple never imagined that their steadily growing family soon would find the land of their dreams in the thriving community of Moorpark - a citrus-growing area located one-hour northwest Los Angeles in the Ventura County,

Years back, John lived on his uncle’s farm where he was taught to respect the land. At that time, he didn’t see things the way he sees now.
The Biggest Little Farm ©2019 Neon
They dove into this new lifestyle headfirst and started researching sustainable farming. The Chesters found everything they needed on the internet: from investors to volunteers and even livestock! Like in the Farmville game, but at this time was real.

They met an expert in soil and ecosystems named Alan York. The specialist became their counselor and mentor. His approach had a colorful philosophy. He was less scientific and pragmatic kind of person.

York stimulated Molly's vision with bold ideas about organic farming, diversifying orchards, and crop rotating - something that Medieval Cultures practiced but Modern Times are forgetting. The perks of running the farm brought the couple closer.
 Molly and John Chester ©2019 Neon
In 2009, John had no time to waste. His background in photography and knowledge in farming inspired him to tell a story about nature. 

John began filming their journey through the seasons and how the cycles repeated year after year, as a guide working with his crew periodically.

John placed all the isolated footage together, and with the help of some film and farm interns was able to finish this fun-to-watch documentary.
John Chester, The Biggest Little Farm ©2019 Neon
The cinematography is by John Chester himself, and it has the quality of any National Geographic project. 

“The Biggest Little Farm” features stunning imagery combined with an accessible and fun narration that makes watching this film a joy.

At a very insightful screening and Q&A hosted at the Academy of Motion Pictures and Arts conducted by Alejandra Spasante, John Chester said: “Nature doesn’t work in right or wrong, only works with consequences. The complexity becomes a vibrant experience.” He added more about the importance of diversifying the soil adding natural nutrients, and how that ties with everything else. “Farming is the most interesting video game you can ever imagine.”
 Emma and Greasy, The Biggest Little Farm ©2019 Neon
On their particular farm, every animal is a character. They have a name and an essential job, like Emma the pig, Greasy the rooster, and Todd, the inspirational dog

To transform every adversity into an opportunity, the new farmers relied on the power of observation and discovered that even predators become pollinators to keep the balance in life going.

In a farm, living and dead walk side by side and death is only a facet of life. One of John's most challenging tasks was to euthanize an animal, but remember that life recycles itself: dead means nothing to the ecosystem, only a new beginning for another being to subsist. 

John Chester added: “An embarrassing situation cripples the possibility to find an explanation. When something goes bad, do not freak out; a problem is a chance to find a solution.”

Observation is your superpower.
After the screening, the director commented that in Berlin, people said, “We didn't know Americans can be ecosystem friendly.” A big oops from the political agenda of the present administration.
 Greasy, The Biggest Little Farm ©2019 Neon
While audiences around the world are helping the documentary to earn accolades in film festivals like Sundance and the AFI FEST, the narrative missed essential pieces of information such as financial standings, earnings and losses, and other relevant economic data for other people who may follow their lead farming. 

What is lacking in "money matters," the film compensates with natural humor and tenderness of the couple and their relationship with the animals. Though we followed the Chesters's experiences closely, we couldn't think more about the lives of the vast army of volunteers, interns, and workers who keep the large piece of the land alive.
Children's book, The Biggest Little Farm ©2019 Neon
“The Biggest Little Farm” creates a profound impact on the viewer for its honesty and accessibility. Mostly about the significant challenges we are facing due to Climate Change and Global Warming. 

A big thumbs up for the Chester family, and for their extraordinary ability to reconstruct and maintain the land where nature and humans can coexist harmoniously.
The Biggest Little Farm trailer

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