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Beyond Organic
The Vision of Fairview Gardens

A model of community supported agriculture in the midst of suburban sprawl.

A printer-friendly version of this page 33 minutes
Produced by John de Graaf
Based on books by Michael Ableman, From The Good Earth and On Good Land
Narrated by Meryl Streep

"Beautiful cinematography and engaging storytelling--a must see!" Nina Simons, co-producer, Bioneers Conference
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.

Other films by John de Graaf are AFFLUENZA, ESCAPE FROM AFFLUENZA, BUYER BE FAIR, SILENT KILLER: The Unfinished Campaign against Hunger, THE MOTHERHOOD MANIFESTO, ON NATURE'S TERMS, HOT POTATOES, FOR EARTH'S SAKE: The Life and Times of David Brower, DAVID BROWER: A Conversation with Scott Simon, and WHAT'S THE ECONOMY FOR, ANYWAY?.

Grade Level: 7-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2000     Copyright Date: 2000
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-348-X     VHS ISBN: 1-56029-831-6

"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."
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Awards and Festivals
Best of Category, EarthVision Environmental Film & Video Festival
Bronze Plaque, Columbus International Film & Video Festival
Vermont International Film Festival
Equinox Environmental Film Festival
Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital
Olympia Environmental Film Festival
Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival
MountainFilm in Telluride
International Environmental Film Festival "Green Vision" in St. Petersburg
Eckerd College Environmental Film Festival

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

Related Titles

Cultivating Change
Garden tour that proves that growing food can be an avenue to social change.

My Father's Garden
Explores sustainable agriculture and the contrast between chemical and organic farming.

Valley at the Crossroads
The battle over sprawl in California's Central Valley, where 50% of America's fruits, nuts, and vegetables are grown.

Circle of Plenty
John Jeavons demonstrates biointensive agriculture as a way to alleviate world hunger.

Global Gardener
Permaculture helps people turn wastelands into food forests.

The Close to Nature Garden

Big Spuds, Little Spuds
The impact of climate change and monoculture on one of the world's staple food crops.

Risky Business
A discussion-starter on genetically engineered plants and animals.

Field of Genes
The effects of the biotechnology revolution on farmers and consumers.

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