Saturday, 16 January 2021

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A documentary that makes the biggest little difference

biggest little farm screening brussels 

In Brussels, cinema-goers marking World Environment Day gathered at the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels, BOZAR, for the European premiere of John Chester’s film and life story The Biggest Little Farm.

The Ciné-ONU (UN Cinema) screening, co-organised by UNRIC, the European Commission and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), tells the story of two young urban citizens who reinvent their life and embark on an inspiring journey. John and Molly Chester dreamed to harvest in harmony with nature and saw the old way of farming as the future. In 2011, they traded the city for a traditional farm in California, which marked the beginning of an eight-year quest. The documentary not only depicts their successes, but also the hardships they faced.

The first of their challenges was to turn arid and neglected land into a thriving and self-regulating eco-system. They planted many varieties of stone fruits and bought various animals, wanting to reach the highest level of biodiversity possible. The wildlife eventually started to return the land it had once abandoned, which at first posed a threat to the development of the farm. They learned to decode how the world around them was working. Observation and creativity became their plan of action. “Revelations born from failures worked as fuel for the engine of our ecosystem,” said John during the panel discussion that followed the screening. Together, they realized that co-existence between the animals was the key to their problems, regulating naturally the harmony of the farm. In their journey to live in harmony with nature, John and Molly learned how to respect the natural life cycle of plants and animals. It took them 8 years to discover the rhythm of farming, each year becoming easier and more predictable.

Caroline Petit, Deputy Director at UNRIC introduced The Biggest Little Farm as “a story of courage, determination and solidarity.” “The documentary is a call to encourage each one of us to consume food that is produced in a sustainable.”

“The film does not only projects hope, but also resilience and capability,” said Leonard Mizzi, a representative from the European Commission, who thinks each one of us should pick up some ideas and get inspired from this collective adventure. Finally, Martial Bernoux, a representative from FAO, highlighted the fact that “we must save the earth and therefore our soils, which are the source of life.” He raised an SOS: “Save Our Soils.”

The documentary, shows a frank, humorous and touching portrait of John and Molly’s fascinating journey, inspiring an audience attending the event made up of many young people, agricultural experts and even a number of Belgian farmers. “Change the world from your backyard!” said John during the interactive debate, “We, humans, have the ability to change what is in front of us and that is enough”. He encourages each one of us to undertake initiatives that are within our reach, such as composting our food and eating locally and seasonally. “We have the power to consciously restore and regenerate the biodiversity”, he concluded. 

John and Molly Chester clearly understood the biggest challenge of our lifetime, which is to secure the quality of the water we drink, the food we eat and the air we breathe, and the way we confront climate change.


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