01 July 2007

Excellent Documentary

Yesterday, by accident, I stumbled onto an excellent documentary about sustainable agriculture. It was on The Documentary Channel, and was called "Broken Limbs: Apples, Agriculture and the New American Farmer." The focus is the filmmaker's own home town in Wenatchee, Washington, and the perils faced by conventional apple farmers such as his father. Between globalization and industry consolidation, small-to-medium sized conventional apple growers are getting squeezed out of business.

The turning point for the filmmaker was discovering the writings of Professor John Ikerd, from the University of Missouri, on sustainable agriculture. The second portion of the film focuses on people who have shifted to an entirely different model of farming. He has since been trying to help his father transition to a more sustainable production model.

One of the farmers profiled was Grant Gibbs. He has put together an amazing farming operation that has almost entirely eliminated off-farm inputs. The livestock provide fertilizer for his fruit and vegetable gardens, and the fruits and vegetables in turn sustain the livestock. How he's managed to integrate this system is truly a beautiful thing to behold. I also found a good book excerpt, with photos, of Gibbs and his operation. Note that Gibbs has internships for those interested in learning first-hand how he does things.

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