Throughout The Biggest Little Farm, I was in tears. The film details the damage monoculture farming has on the land and the despair that this creates is immense. However, the film is also careful to create a sense of joy out of the simplicity of nature, and its ability to heal itself with the right human care.
Filmed over the course of almost a decade, The Biggest Little Farm plots the journey taken by filmmaker John Chester and his wife, Molly, after they rescue a black, blue-eyed dog. Promising Todd a life outside their cramped apartment, John and Molly embark on an ambitious task – to farm in harmony with nature.
They set their sights on Apricot Lanes Farm; approximately 200 acres of arid, neglected land one hour north of Los Angeles. We are privileged enough to witness the trials and tribulations of the farm as John and Molly give all they’ve got to disprove the vocal naysayers’ belief that “attempting to farm in harmony with nature would be reckless if not impossible”.
There is a deep sense of welcoming for the audience – as the farm accepts more animals, biodiversity, and volunteer staff, it feels as if we as the viewers are also considered important players in this farming game. With an extensive amount of home footage and recordings of delicate, often emotional tasks, we are not shown a sanitized version of their attempts to create the highest level of biodiversity possible. The raw and almost constant struggle is portrayed without sentiment on the screen. The narration undoubtedly contributes to this sense of belonging fostered with the audience.
Narrated by both John and Molly in a very back-and-forth conversational style, it is often hard to distinguish between dialogue from footage and the narration. With Attenborough-esque time-lapse footage of the ecosystems re-establishing themselves, much of The Biggest Little Farm is also visually mesmerizing.
Settle into despair when crops are eaten by snails, the fruit is destroyed year after year by birds and coyotes ravage the hen house. But you’ll also be witness to Emma the pig birthing a mammoth litter of piglets, crops thriving and the wildlife finding an equilibrium with the farm. The Biggest Little Farm is more than a documentary of a couple attempting to create a holistic, healthier farming practice. It is a depiction of community, of a dream, and most importantly, of hope.