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I Was Very Moved by THE REAL DIRT ON FARMER JOHN

I Was Very Moved by THE REAL DIRT ON FARMER JOHN

The Real Dirt on Farmer John was a movie that I had been wanting to see for quite a while, and I watched it this past weekend. Unlike many of the other movies that I review here, such as Flow (which taught me a lot about the tremendous water issues throughout the world) or Dirt! […]

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LivingMaxwell.com


The Real Dirt on Farmer John was a movie that I had been wanting to see for quite a while, and I watched it this past weekend.

Unlike many of the other movies that I review here, such as Flow (which taught me a lot about the tremendous water issues throughout the world) or Dirt! The Movie (which give me an in-depth look at everything that encompasses soil), The Real Dirt on Farmer John had a much different impact on me.

Winner of over 30 awards at film festivals including first ever Reel Current Al Gore Award at the Nashville Film Festival and the Grand Jury Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival, The Real Dirt on Farmer John tells us the story of lifelong Illinois farmer John Peterson.

Raised in a Midwest farming community, John Peterson was forced to take over the family farm at a very young age when his father passed away from diabetes.

While tending to the crops and simultaneously attending nearby Beloit College, John Peterson turned his family farm into an experiment of art, free thinking, and communal living. It was exactly what you think you’d find in the hippies era of the 1960s.

Uncomfortable with these activities and the people hanging around John’s farm, local residents spread rumors that devil worshipping, drug dealing, and orgies were taking place on his property.

These negative perceptions and the tremendous weight of debt both killed the viability of the farm. Forced to sell off nearly all of his land, John manages to save a few acres and then takes off to Latin America looking for his next adventure.

Eventually, John ends up back in the U.S. and makes one final attempt to farm again.

This time, however, he abandons conventional agriculture and its toxic chemicals in favor of something more pure and respectful to the earth, organic farming.

With his unwavering spirit, John finds an unexpected source of financial and emotional support, which helps him realize his dream of combining art and agriculture, and also helps to save his soul.

MY TAKE

I almost gave up on the movie about 20 minutes into The Real Dirt on Farmer John but am glad that I didn’t. (Full Disclosure: I have a very short attention span when it comes to movies, and I walk out of them often.)

This film resonated with me for a few reasons.

– We are taken on John Peterson’s very personal and difficult journey – lots of family heartache, several failed relationships, being painted as an outcast and immoral character in his community, and dealing with the tremendous difficulty of farming.

For anyone who has also faced serious adversity in their lives and has struggled to find themselves, you can’t help but feel for this character very much. Furthermore, he is an honest, hard-working, and decent human being.

– It shows the very sad decline of the collapse of family farms in our country. There was one line in the movie that struck me very much when one woman said “where do people think they’re getting their food from?”

– More than anything, I was touched by John’s relationship with his mother – how much he did to take care of her, how much she loved his only son, and the affection they had for each other.

As someone who had a very special relationship with a mother who has since passed away, I had tears in my eyes on several occasions.

If the goal of a film is to really move a person and to get them to start thinking about their own life, then The Real Dirt on Farmer John was indeed very successful.

The Real Dirt on Farm John can be purchased online and is also on Netflix.


4 Comments

  • mary ann says:

    This place is just up the street from our house – a short bike ride away. Friends who lived here back in the day, during John’s young adult years, remember his parties at the farm. . .they tell me that there were MANY cars parked on the property, and as soon as you exited your car, you could smell the weed (said friends were regulars. :D).

    BTW. . .it’s BELOIT College (located about 10 mi from the farm).

    Glad you enjoyed the doc! (We believe that we have a special little corner of the world here.)

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Mary Ann,

      Yes, I fixed that correction about Beloit. Thank you for telling me.

      I have no doubt that there were some epic parties going on at the time and I am sure I would have loved to have been there during my wild 20s and early 30s as well.

      It does seem like it is a special little corner of the world there, without a question. Thanks for sharing.

      Live well,
      Max

  • Jessica B says:

    Hi Max! Just had the opportunity to visit Farmer John’s farm with my daughter a couple of weeks ago and it is an amazing place! They have a learning center which offers a variety of classes centered around organic food, farming, community, and caring for the earth. I am hoping to watch the movie soon. I was so excited to see you comment in it! Thank you!

    • Max Goldberg says:

      Hi Jessica,

      Very cool. I am glad you had such a positive experience at the farm and at its learning center. What a great place to take your daughter and definitely go see the movie!

      Live well,
      Max

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