Show & Tell: The Biggest Little Farm


The hottest documentary on the scene right now isn’t political and it isn’t about an overlooked social outrage. In fact, it isn’t about people at all, which, given the current state of our national conversation, seems like a very good idea.

The Biggest Little Farm is about a wildlife filmmaker and his wife who left filmmaking behind and bought a played-out 200-acre farm in Ventura County outside L.A., despite knowing very little about farming. He and his wife set out to build an organic-based farm on sound ecological principles, kind of recreating Eden.

What could go wrong?

A great deal, as it turns out. Anyone who’s been keeping up with the Green Movement and attempts to nurse depleted natural systems back to health knows that the biggest law in ecology is The Law of Unintended Consequences. Nature refuses to be taken for granted and her bag of tricks is bottomless.

But (spoiler alert) the couple finally succeeds in creating a working ecosystem that includes 850 animals, a ton of fruit trees, and some very healthy (and probably very expensive) fruits and vegetables that sell to local stores and restaurants. The secret, it seems, is the creative deployment of various kinds of poo.

Biggest Little Farm even has one breakout star in the person of Emma the pig. Emma’s story has already been told in a heartwarming short called “A Pig Named Emma, 13 Piglets and 1 Big Miracle.” You can probably find it on the Intertubes. Emma, I’m told, keeps the movie from being a fact-filled sermon on the evils of factory farming. You might say she humanizes the story. And the filmmaker relents and decides to tell the story.

I don’t want to oversell the potentially feel-good aspect of this movie. From what I’ve read, it’s not just an inspiring ecological fable. (It is that, but seems to have much more substance at its core than just a documentary remake of Babe.)

I’m really looking forward to a movie with a positive message and a success story. This movie may even give me enough strength to tune in to a little political television if there’s any to be found.

I hope you’ll join me for the discussion; good stories about laudable successes aren’t that easy to find. Bring the kids and your aging hippie commune friends. We’ll have a good time. The Biggest Little Farm will show at 7:00 in The Music Hall Loft.

Paul Goodwin