Cool Flick: "The Real Dirt on Farmer John"
This is an intense, amazing, wild film. This text from Farmer John's website about his forthcoming autobiography sums things up about the film, as much as a situation like this is possible to sum up, which really isn't very much at all:
"Clean-cut John Peterson encounters an array of city-born hippies and artists in the late '60s, leading him to fold performance, design, writing and film into his life as a farmer. He writes engagingly about days of great optimism, parties, romance—and about how those times shaped his relationship to the land he loved.
"The land, however, later drives him into destitution and despair, leaving him alone, his health and spirit broken. For several years John seeks solace in writing, theater, and film, as he lives between his farm, Mexico, and New York City.
"Remarkably, in spite of being ostracized by his home community for losing family land and for his enthusiastic association with diverse people, John feels called to take up farming again on the remains of his family farm, this time in a new way—organically. But he has no equipment, no money, and in addition, due to his unusual and creative life style, his community displays extreme hostility to his return to the farm. Tormented by his financially unworkable dream to farm again and terrorized by his community, John experiences extremes of despair and paranoia.
"*I Didn't Kill Anyone Up Here: Farmer John's Uneasy Autobiography* ends with a cataclysmic fire of suspicious origin. How can John ever farm again, in this place of loss and hostility, without capital, without support? He watches his beautiful building burn to the ground as he ponders this question. Staring into the flames, John does not imagine that he is on his way to building Angelic Organics, one of the largest community supported agriculture farms in the country. He does not imagine that, within ten years of gazing into these flames, thousands of people will be receiving weekly deliveries of vegetables from his farm. He does not see that soon he will be helping to pioneer a new form of community in which people are once again connected to the source of their food."
I don't want to give any spoilers but just visiting the homepage for Farmer John's farm gives you a big clue. How many farms have multimedia websites? (Well, quite a few, actually, but this one is WOW.) To me the complexity of what Farmer John and his friends have achieved is astounding but it's also a worry. Can the center hold? But what the hey, let's go with the flow and see where it leads... Multimedia CSA's that are tied in with a university are an innovative and interesting option in today's ag climate. But there are so many strings attached...and perhaps even some fads involved... What if city people stop wanting to pay $5 for a tomato? Or college kids stop wanting to pay to do hard labor all summer? But that's second-guessing. My tip: keep your eye on the migrants. And the Amish. They both know what they're doing. This is all cutting edge social change. No one knows where it's leading. Watch the movie and see for yourself! It's really something!