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Beyond Organic

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.

BEYOND ORGANIC is a dramatic story with a happy ending. Other neighbors -- and eventually the entire Santa Barbara community -- rallied around Fairview Gardens and raised $800,000 to preserve it as a land trust, and as a source of inspiration, for future generations.

'This video is an outstanding glimpse into how the increasingly rapid tempo of destruction of rural land dedicated to raising crops could be slowed, resulting in a diversity of healthful food for our citizens. Highly recommended.' Buzz Haughton, Shields Library, UC-Davis, MC Journal

'BEYOND ORGANIC is a great view, a wonderful video about a community growing healthy food, building good relationships and developing a vital social fabric for us all!' John Jeavons, author of How To Grow More Vegetables, and founder of Ecology Action

'BEYOND ORGANIC is not only a dramatic and true story, on a subject of great importance, but it's also a beautiful film. (You can almost taste the peaches!)' Donella Meadows, author of Limits To Growth

'The fascinating and inspiring story of Fairview Gardens, an organic farm that unites enriching food production with a sound and healthy social philosophy.' Timothy McGettigan, Professor of Sociology, University of Southern Colorado

'What a great piece of work! This timely film celebrates local, community-based farming, while offering solutions to the urgent challenges of family farms and urban agriculture. Beautiful cinematography and engaging storytelling--a must see!' Nina Simons, co-producer, Bioneers Conference

'Great video and example for other CSAs to follow.' Organically Speaking e-Newsletter

'I am really quite excited about offering this marvelous special to the Public Television viewers of North America.' Dick Hanratty, Director of PBS Plus

'(An) uplifting, hopeful video.' EARTHLight Magazine

'A thought-provoking, visually stunning video. The quality of production is excellent, allowing the program to be entertaining while raising underlying questions for further discussion on topics such as urban sprawl and development, community and social interactions, organic farming, future directions for urban agriculture, and community-supported agriculture (CSA). The comparisons of the connections among land, culture, and community in the more traditional agriculture of many countries and the trend to megafarms in North America are particularly striking.' Best Science Films, Science Books and Films


Main credits

De Graaf, John (Producer)
Streep, Meryl (Narrator)

Other credits

Producer/writer/editor, John de Graaf; photographer/on-line editor, Mark Dworkin.

Docuseek subjects

Distributor subjects

American Studies
Food And Nutrition
Local Economies
Sustainable Agriculture
Urban Studies
Western US


community supported agriculture, suburban sprawl, Fairview Gardens, Michael Ableman, organic farming,"Beyond Organic",Bullfrog Films

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