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The Biggest Little Farm: A Review

Have you ever noticed that sometimes, you hear about a thing – a word, a book, a movie, a person – and suddenly, it’s everywhere? That’s what happened with me and The Biggest Little Farm.

Since it came out, I have gotten emails, WhatsApps, and had it mentioned in conversation as a must-see “because it’s a lot like what you’re doing!”
At long last, on Earth Day (a happy coincidence), we watched The Biggest Little Farm documentary.

If you’re too lazy to read to the end, here’s my big take away: Everyone should watch this documentary, no matter what day of the year it is.

The Story

In a nutshell, the story is of a couple – John and Molly – who live in the city and are going about their merry way. John works in video and filmmaking, and Molly is a chef (these may not be exact titles). She focuses on healthy food, loves growing whatever she can in whatever space she has, and dreams of a farm where the central tenet is harmony with nature.

Then, they end up adopting a rescue puppy (he is gorgeous), and promise him he’s set for life.

That changes everything, because he’s a barker when he’s alone, which is all day every day. So, they consider changing apartments, but recognize the issue will be the same. The solution? Use that nudge to take the leap, find investors, and move to Apricot Lane Farms.

This farm is HUGE and located an hour North of Los Angeles. When they arrive, the soil is retched and nothing much is happening in terms of soil, insect, and wildlife in general. They dive in, with a consultant who seems well versed in permaculture and holistic land management, and change everything.

They create a whole new ecosystem that is teeming with life. They invest in the soil, fix up the irrigation system, dig up a pond, bring in chickens and ducks, pigs, sheep, and cows, tear up various areas and replant them as orchards made up of 70+ varieties of fruit trees.

The documentary follows them over their first seven years of operation – because it is said that seven years is how long it takes for a new ecosystem to find balance.

 The official trailer

What I loved

If more people dared to dream and were as fearless as John and Molly, the world would be a very different – and better – place. Their story is full of ups and downs, but their underlying grit, determination, and grace (plus their cute puppy and other farm animals of course) make it a beautiful narrative that really draws you in.

I love that they followed their dreams, their heart, and did it in a big way.

I am also amazed that they had the presence of mind to film enough of their journey, every step of the way, to then put together such a documentary (it helps that John’s a pro).

Most of all, I love their philosophy. Seeing a farm as an ecosystem is key. It changes everything. It leads to big challenges, but ultimately you get a haven of greenery, biodiversity, and life the way nature intended it. It’s beautiful.

(In case you’re wondering, we embrace very similar values, if in a very different way – more on that in a bit.)

A few things I’d like to point out

Molly and John found investors. We don’t know how many, or how much capital they raised (or what it meant in terms of returns expected, strings attached, and all those other oh-so-important questions), but one thing is for sure: in the end, it meant they had DEEP pockets.

The way things are presented, it seems like they had almost unlimited funds to invest into their project – to pay for a consultant to help them redesign their whole farm, to get the big machines needed to dig things up or tractor around, to build a huge shed solely dedicated to farming worms (this is amazing as it is the equivalent to producing liquid gold to invest into the soil), to immediately get not just a few of each animal but hundreds of chickens and ducks and a lot of sheep and cows – and trees.

None of this is inexpensive.

They also brought people on to work on the farm full time. It isn’t clear whether this was on a volunteer basis or in exchange for a salary, but quite a few of the people featured seem to be there for years rather than months, which makes me think some monetary exchange was involved.

From where I am standing, this means that their journey was the Disneyland of all city-to-farm adventures. This is wonderful for them – and to be fair, having all the money in the world won’t help when a pig is giving birth or sick or pests attack your fruit trees, so in no way am I saying this to diminish the incredible work they did (and do).

It just means that their way of doing things is not the norm. Most regular jos, if they decide to embrace the farm life, will have to do so very differently. And that’s ok! But I’d hate for such a wonderful documentary to warp your perspective on what is normal or to be expected in such life transitions.

Questions the “farmher” in me is dying to ask

The documentary does a great job of sharing John and Molly’s story with us, but a lot is left out – which is smart, and likely a decision to protect some of their privacy. I respect that.

Still, the documentary left me with a few questions…

  • How did they find their consultant, and what was his official focus (the nerd in me is dying to know so I can look up his specialty and try and better understand where he got all his wisdom from)
  • Where did the team live/sleep? Were they payed or there as volunteers?
  • What was the business plan, to live off the sales of their produce? Or was that only one of their income streams, with the documentary another source of money? Did either John or Molly continue to work in parallel to their farm journey?

(There’s more, but I’ll leave it at that for now.)

My biggest take-away

The bottom line is, GO WATCH THIS MOVIE!

Whether you like romantic comedies, comedies, drama, nature documentaries, anything featuring farm animals, or are considering a lifestyle change (whether it’s from city to farm or anything else that is major)… there’s something in this for you.

And if you are considering a change from city life to a farm, rest assured: there are a million ways to embark on that journey, and most of them have the potential to work out just as well as John and Molly’s even if very differently.

In fact, while we’re still at least a year but probably a few years away from “a successful farm” or whatever label you’re aiming for that involves living on a farm, I’d be happy to share whatever aspects of our journey might be useful, inspiring, or a good learning curve for yours.

Let me know in the comments, or connect with me on social media!

But most importantly, watch The Biggest Little Farm. It’s a great movie.

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