Organic farming didn’t spring forth from the aisles of Whole Foods, you know. The concept was born—or reborn, really—in the late 60s and 70s, when radical progressive movements began vociferously advocating a turn away from reliance on industrial farming and processed foods. They railed against a wasteful, inefficient food system, pesticide use, and the growing disconnect between Americans and their food supply. Sound familiar?
Yep, the foundation for the modern organic and local food movements, the ethos of which has now been thoroughly subsumed by big food interests, hasn’t evolved too drastically since the hippie era. And such thinking rose to prominence on communes. Two women who grew up on one of the most famous such communes, the Farm in Tennessee, are putting together a documentary about that movement.
The filmakers describe the story behind American Commune thusly:
In 1970, 300 hippies founded a commune in the backwoods of Tennessee and set out to change the world. Members shared everything, grew their own food, delivered their babies at home and succeeded in building a self-sufficient society. By 1980, The Farm had 1,500 members and hosted 10,000 visitors a year. Their socialist experiment sowed the seeds for many of today’s most progressive movements, including organic farming, natural birth, vegetarianism, and solar power. Countless reporters—everyone from Dan Rather to Walter Cronkite—have covered The Farm in news segments, but we are the first insiders to tell our story.
There are plenty of folks who argue that the future of food production lays not in industrial GMO-harnessing farms, but in localized, democratic organic operations as idealized in the Farm. The doc should provide a useful blueprint of how those ideas play out in real life, in direct conflict with the entrenched system.
The film is in postproduction, and the auteurs are soliciting funds on Kickstarter, so check it out if you’ve got a soft spot for hippies or a festering distrust of Monsanto.