The Real Dirt on Farmer John Taggart Siegel

The Real Dirt on Farmer John Taggart Siegel
If an organic farmer reminiscing on his life is your personal definition of boring, prepare to redefine your prejudices. The Real Dirt on Farmer John is a fascinating trip through the recent history of farming and counterculture with one John Peterson as your guide during agricultural disaster and rebirth. Peterson is a baby-boomer farmer whose land had been in the family since the Great Depression, and who detoured in his youth through hippie free-spiriting. When the bottom fell out of farming in the ’80s, he was doubly crushed by the snuffing-out of American farm culture and his pariah status as a "different” sort in a conservative community. Much wandering and self-hatred later, Peterson finally rebuilds the remains of his land as a communal organic operation that simultaneously links his farming heritage with his hippie instincts. There’s more to it than that, of course, with Peterson coming through as an intensely complex man whose father’s early death made a significant difference in his life, and the twists and turns of his story show the kind of person it takes to farm against all odds. One wishes for a more cogent analysis of the various levels of his existence, spelling out the conceptual strands of his history instead of rolling it all up into one very suggestive ball. Still, there’s more to chew on here than with any news report of agricultural failure or alternative farming, and more nuanced emotion involved than you’d expect from a blunt leftist political tract. Extras include Bitter Harvest, a short, sad documentary made during his initial farm failure in the ’80s, two music videos for weak, hippy-ish songs, three deleted scenes, a photo gallery and recipes from Farmer John’s Cookbook. (Gaiam)