Acclaimed farming documentary to be screened on Lopez Island

  • Tue Jun 17th, 2008 8:01pm
  • Life

In celebration of our local, organic farmers, a community screening of the documentary “The Real Dirt on Farmer John” will be shown Saturday, June 14, 7-9:00 p.m. at Lopez Center. A dessert from “Farmer John’s Cookbook” will be served; the 83-minute film begins at 7:30 p.m.

Lopezian Nancy Rankin organized the evening. “After viewing the pre-release of the movie two and a half years ago, I made it my personal project to show this movie on Lopez in a community setting. I wanted to use this moving, inspiring and quirky documentary as a vehicle to highlight how incredibly fortunate we are as a community to have available to us food that is grown locally in a sustainable manner. We have access to meat and vegetables produced by farmers with whom we can have a direct relationship; food that we can attach a farmer’s name to,” said Rankin.

“Screening of this film is especially timely, given increasing concerns about food security and awareness of the need for strengthening our local food systems,” noted Michele Heller, who is helping with the event.

Heller is co-founder of Lopez Locavores, a grass-roots organization whose mission is to promote affordable access to locally grown food. Lopez Locavores sponsors Evening Meals at School, a monthly dinner featuring locally grown, chef-prepared food. This donation-only meal has consistently drawn an average of more than 300 people for dinners, which began in January 2008. “This level of community interest confirms our commitment to creating access to food grown using sustainable methods. We could not do this without our farmers!”

According to the film’s website, “’The Real Dirt on Farmer John’ will turn every idea you ever had about what it means to be an American farmer, or an American dreamer, on its head. Meet Farmer John, the incredible human being whose inspirational story of revolutionizing his family farm and redeeming his own life has won accolades and awards at film festivals around the world.” Director Taggart Siegel shot footage for the documentary over 25 years, using multiple media, from 8 mm home movies to modern video, “allowing him to capture Farmer John Peterson’s alternately humorous, heartbreaking and spirited life with raw drama and intimacy.”

After the death of his father during the late 1960s, a teenaged John took over the family farm. The film follows the farm’s evolution as a haven for hippies and artists, to its demise in the 1980s, to its rebirth as one of the largest Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms. “The Real Dirt on Farmer John” is the #1 rented film in Portland, Ore., and Alice Waters, Al Gore, and newspapers across the country have sung the film’s praises. For more information about “The Real Dirt on Farmer John,” visit

The event is sponsored by Lopez Center for Community and the Arts. The suggested donation is $5 for adults and children get in free.