The Biggest Little Farm
For those of us who haven’t experienced life on a farm, it’s common to not have a full understanding or appreciation of what that life entails. It’s a life filled with; hard work, good and bad luck, joys and satisfaction, sorrows and disappointments.
The Biggest Little Farm is a documentary that follows Los Angeles couple John and Molly Chester, as they impulsively purchase a stretch of farmland in the San Fernando Valley. Despite having no farming experience, the couple decides to revitalize the land and agree to face every challenge head-on. Their astonishing journey was the most inspiring movie of 2018.
Apricot Lane Farms, which is located in Moorpark, California, is a new-old fashioned farm, predicated on the idea that biodiversity is the best and most moral strategy for raising crops and livestock. The farm uses "regenerative soil methods" that make food taste better. The entire space is "a micro-ecosystem managed through methods best described as biomimicry, mimicking the biological balance found in our earth’s ecosystem that allows for a less destructive and healthier farm."
The farmers are repeatedly required to figure out solutions to urgent, everyday problems, such as how to stop snails from infesting their lemon trees, how to keep coyotes from killing their ducks without having to kill the coyotes, too, and how to get an orphaned lamb to adulthood without having to put it down prematurely. The Biggest Little Farm is most fascinating as an account of people who made a dream come true, then realized that keeping it alive is hard, often heartbreaking work.
The farm mission statement reads as follows:
1) Grow great tasting and nutrient-dense foods.
2) Only use farming practices that, over time, reduce outside inputs and focus on the enhancement of the environment, wildlife habitat, and biological regeneration of soil.
3) Treat the farm team with respect and care for them as our family, pay them a fair wage and nurture a safe and chemical-free working environment.
4) Treat the animals humanely and ensure they live on healthy lush pastures in a stress-free and biologically diverse ecosystem. Care for them in a clean way that never requires the use of antibiotics.
5) Allow farming decisions to be made through the lens of biomimicry. As our understanding of our ecosystem evolves, work to implement the new wisdom into our practices.
Biomimicry in farming is an approach that seeks sustainable solutions to farming challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies. Permaculture incorporates these same principles. It studies the interconnected patterns and relationships between plants and insects. It then focus on balancing the imbalances that would normally cause farmers to use chemicals on plants or drugs in their animals by implementing missing biological and native components to the ecosystem (i.e. plants, insects, or other animals).
By any measure, farming is a difficult livelihood. But when you see the immense bounty and beauty the Chester farm is able to achieve through an agricultural practice that builds and balances the environment, you’ll be amazed.
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