The Biggest Little Farm
This 2018 documentary captures the beautiful and heartwarming process of farming in harmony with the land.
The story begins with Molly and John’s dream of owning a farm and growing an abundance of diverse foods, and they make this dream a reality when they purchase a farm (Apricot Lane Farms) in California. However, the farm they purchase is anything but bountiful, for the soil is rock-dry and monocropping dominates the land. They quickly discover that the key to healthy plants is soil, and so they begin the slow process of building soil using worm castings and compost. Along the way, they fall under the guidance of traditional farmer Alan York, who uses permaculture principles in his design strategy. Within 7 years, this couple has introduced an incredible amount of diverse animals and plants, and their story inspires young people to volunteer at their farm and learn about regenerative farming. Their hard work and dedication shows how creating a farm using natural systems results in a diverse and secure ecosystem.
The following permaculture principles can easily be applied to the work done at Apricot Lane Farm:
Connection to permaculture
#1 Observe and interact: observing your surrounding is the first step to building a successful garden or farm. By taking a step back watching nature, Molly and John are able to observe how certain animals interact with their crops and how the water moves through their land. This ultimately allows them to recreate natural patterns and create a closed-loop system.
#7 Design from patterns to details: before any crops could be put in the ground, Molly and John had to build their soil and brew a lot of compost tea. Following the natural pattern of the ecosystem (from the ground-up) they were able to restore their land and the ecosystem before planting. They had to look at the “big picture” before introducing diverse plants.
#12 Creatively use and respond to change: from California droughts to coyotes, to a sickly pig, Apricot Lane Farms experiences their fair share of struggles and obstacles. This film shows how important it is to persevere and rely on your support system when a negative change occurs. When the slugs are attacking your fruit trees, bring in the ducks! (ducks love to eat slugs and while they feast their droppings will fertilize the ground)