Big things have small beginnings: When John and Molly Chester’s dog Todd wouldn’t stop barking and they faced eviction, they chose to fulfill a life-long dream of moving out of the city and running a farm.
And not just any farm: They envisioned a farm out of a children’s book, with cows and pigs and horses and ducks and chickens and every kind of fruit and vegetable. And over eight years, they’ve managed to fulfill that dream.
They bought a neglected farm about an hour’s drive from Los Angeles: With hard work (and a lot of compost and worms) they brought back the soil and created a sustainable, biodiverse, biodynamic farm. (Moviepaws got to visit Apricot Lanes for the press day. Check back for our interviews and photos.)
Before becoming a farmer, John made a living as a nature documentarian, so it was a natural fit for him to film every stage of the journey. There are moments of joy, such as when the resident pig, Emma, arrives, and when she gives birth to a surprisingly large litter. And when they realize that the answer to the snail infestation is that ducks love to eat snails.
But there are heartbreaking setbacks: coyotes break into the henhouse on a regular basis and the film doesn’t shy away from showing the pile of dead chickens. It’s especially tough on the Chesters, since the uniquely multi-colored eggs their hens lay is, at first, their sole source of income.
For all the uplifting moments involving baby lambs and piglets and when they see their farm flourishing at last, there are tough scenes of inevitable animal deaths. And the ongoing issue of coyote predation forces some moral issues for the filmmakers.
And heads up dog lovers: Todd, their inspiration for the farm, passed away during filming.
The Chesters have accomplished something amazing with their farm and this film: A way of farming that not only restores the earth and maintains a balance with no pesticides, but brings back native wildlife.
But new life is intermingled with death, as anyone who’s ever been on a farm surely knows.
It’s a wonderfully uplifting film, but has some hard moments for animal lovers.
Rating: 4 out of 4 paws