Beyond Organic – The Vision of Fairview Gardens

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Release date: 2000
Directed by: John de Graaf
Produced by: Bullfrog Films
Running time: 32 minutes

Fairview Gardens is an urban farm located in Goleta, California, right in the middle of some of the most expensive real estate in the U.S. Managed for the past two decades by visionary farmer/ photographer/ author, Michael Ableman, this 12-acre organic farm has become a model of sustainable food production and community involvement, as well as an inspiration for thousands of people all over the world. While managing the farm, Ableman traveled around the world learning from the best examples of traditional agriculture.

A talented professional photographer, his slides and observations – carefully captured in “Beyond Organic” – became the basis for two of his popular books From The Good Earth and On Good Land. At the same time he became an outspoken critic of large-scale commercial agriculture, with its reliance on vast inputs of fossil fuels, water, pesticides and other chemicals. “Beyond Organic” tells the story of this amazing farm and its long battle to survive in the face of rapid suburban development. It explores the efforts of Ableman and his staff to diversify the farm, open it to educational tours for thousands of people – especially schoolchildren – and defend it against angry neighbors, hostile public officials and developers eager to re-zone the land for condominiums. It draws a sharp contrast between community supported agriculture and conventional chemical farming, and it calls on organic farmers to remember basic principles, including fair labor practices, as their farms grow in size and power.