Love the farm — “The Real Dirt on Farmer John” brings you there

John Peterson is a writer and a thespian, foremost, he’s a son who was raised on a farm. He is the protagonist of “The Real Dirt on Farmer John.”

This documentary film presents a beautifully told story, narrated by Mr. Peterson and accompanied by home-movie clips, video interviews, and depictions of his farm today.

Mr. Peterson inherits the family farm at a young age, and the responsibilities that come with it.

He faces the 1980’s recession that decimated farms across the country. “I inherited this history,” he narrates as he is forced to sell most his  land and property, “and I just about ended the whole thing.”

Mr. Peterson embraces his family roots while struggling to maintain the crops and the land he was able to keep. He also invites college friends and other creative friends to live on the farm. He teaches them to work the land, and feels perplexed that before this, they had never held a pitchfork.

Meanwhile his neighbors feel perplexed by him, and the strangers he brought onto the land. They consider him a scourge to the rural community and ostracize him.

All this was anchored along a few hundred acres in northwest Illinois. “The Real Dirt on Farmer John” reflects many farmers’ experiences while he shares personal struggles and triumphs. We enjoy home movies of him as a tot riding the tractor with his dad, and as a young blond boy running through young crops. We are brought up to years later to see neighbors interviewed express heartbreak over concrete poured into “good soil” while their farmland was gentrified.

Farmer John shares his personal journey, and brings us full circle from farms of yesteryear to his reincarnation of his farm today. It’s an organic farm, and recruiting a new generation of folks who hadn’t held a pitchfork before.

“The Real Dirt on Farmer John” brings you to the rural countryside. It draws you into a story of family and soil and personal struggle. Love it this summer, and think of the farmers and crew who are tending to the crops dawn to dusk.

For more information, and to purchase a DVD, visit here.

*** this article was initially published summer, 2012.  The info and link are current.

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