Writing the first post is always the hardest – the proverbial blank page.
We’ve been filming at the Allen Farm since April 13th. We started the project because Allen Heirloom Homestead is doing something so right that a lot of people are wanting to learn what it is. The ten acre homestead has orchards, pastures, livestock and enough garden to provide a year’s worth of food. The livestock is of Heritage type. Though not considered pets, they are cherished and given the very best care. They’re kept safe and comfortable using practical methods. The garden is not over thought, but has, over thirty-five years come into a rhythm of its own. Christina can talk off the cuff about every aspect of actions that occur within that ten acre farm.
The goal was to film life on a homestead farm where heirloom and heritage is a common word and practice. It’s to show that a life like that is a good life, though not always easy and not always beautiful. There are weeds, muck, freezing fingers, sweat, sadness, and dirt under the fingernails. Yet it’s rewarding like nothing else on earth. There’s a sense of “rightness” in knowing where the food you eat comes from, from wrapping a blanket around you that came from your own sheep, wiping a sweaty brow with a handkerchief woven from cotton that grew just a few feet away. It’s about knowing what’s in your food (and what isn’t). It’s about, in a quiet way, saying, “No, we won’t put up with corporate farming, with the damage it’s doing. We want to be good stewards and give back at least as much as we take from the earth.”
The documentary you’re going to see on sustainable farming comes after thirty-five years of gardening, of trial and error, and found paths of success. The farm is built upon tried and tested types of heirloom plants, but sprinkled with the rare fruits, flowers, bushes, and trees that Frank has collected over the past sixty years.
The homestead uses solar power, both active and passive. Due to the frequent summer droughts in the area, they have developed several methods of water collection to ensure that all of their effort is not wasted. Recycling and repurposing things are important considerations.
Early in the project, I felt overwhelmed by it all. Christina assured me that the important thing is to do something. Even if all you do is plant an heirloom seed in a container on your deck, shop at the local fruit and vegetable stands, and recycle; you’re making the world a better place and moving yourself toward a better quality of life.
You’re going to have to watch the documentary more than once. There are tidbits, hints, and ideas nested within layers of the story. When I began this project for the Allens, I didn’t even know what an heirloom vegetable was. I’d never heard the term GMO. After these past few months I don’t pretend to be an expert, but I’m a believer in the importance of what the Allens are doing, what we should all be doing. I’m convinced that things are not all they should be in the agricultural world, in the supermarkets, in our pantries. I’ve learned a lot and now I can see that there’s no turning back. I know enough that I can never continue on the way I was. Christina and Frank Allen have changed the direction of my path.
I hope that this film will make a difference in your life as well. Get out some paper and a pencil. Take notes. No matter where you’re standing right now, you’re going to be standing a little further up the path when its over. Buckle up.