Cornucopia’s Take: Although the couple in this film are atypical of new farmers—they had enough resources to acquire land and a solid consultant—the documentary they created about their struggles to start an organic, biodynamic farm is an honest look at what it takes (and gives) to partner with land and animals.
An L.A. couple left urban life to start ‘The Biggest Little Farm’ and then made a movie about it
Los Angeles Times
by Amy Kaufman
It all started with Todd. A flat-coated retriever-border collie mix with commanding blue eyes. He’d been rescued from a bad situation, trapped with over 200 other dogs in cages at a hoarder’s house.
His new adoptive home was far nicer: an apartment in Santa Monica with a newly married couple, John and Molly Chester. But it was still small. And when they left for work — John directed television docuseries, Molly was a traditional foods private chef — Todd would bark. For hours.
The Chesters tried everything to calm him down from citronella bark collars to anxiety vests. Nothing worked, and before long, the couple was served with an eviction notice.
John, 47, and Molly,40, didn’t know what to do. If they found another apartment, surely Todd would just continue barking there. And placing him in another family, after he’d already suffered so much in his early years, was out of the question.
So they decided to do something crazy. For years, they’d dreamed of starting their own farm, but in the way so many of us do — romantically fantasizing about giving up the urban sprawl for a simpler life. They knew nothing about farming; they’d only grown a small tomato plant on their apartment patio. But Todd was the push the Chesters needed. They found a family friend to serve as an investor, and in 2011, purchased 130-acres of land in Moorpark, 50 miles north of Los Angeles.
Enjoy this video short from the Chesters’ farm
Their journey is the subject of a new documentary directed by John, “The Biggest Little Farm,” which debuts at the Telluride Film Festival this weekend and screens next week at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film, which is seeking theatrical distribution, isn’t entirely a grass-is-greener story. It depicts the immense struggles the Chesters faced in trying to create an organic, biodynamic business, which they named Apricot Lane Farms.