I saw the film The Biggest Little Farm two weekends ago on the big screen and am glad I did. This documentary follows a Los Angeles couple, John and Molly Chester, as they venture to farm the old fashioned way on 200 acres in the foothills of Ventura County, California. Let me be clear right now–the reason to see the film on the big or small screen is the camera work. The shots of ecosystems large and small are beautiful. The close-ups of piglets, bugs, birds, fruit and so many other pieces of farm life will have you laughing, smiling, occasionally wincing but always feeling something. There are many questions left unanswered, like how much did the investors invest? Did they invest or just donate? When the Chesters lose crops to birds and insects, how many dollars did they actually lose? Viewers from New England and the Midwest may, as I did, say under their breaths, “That long growing season does not exist in many places.”
But what will not be left unanswered is that domestic farming has changed and there has been a cost. I have seen so many Facebook posts this spring and summer of the Midwest covered in flood waters. So much topsoil is making its way to the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River this year. Those images all came to mind during The Biggest Little Farm when, after a long draught, the rain finally came. The Chester’s farm soaked up all the rain because of cover crops they had planted while the topsoil on neighboring farms was washed away. The last brilliant camera work that I commend to you is the night cameras. They were installed to capture who was killing chickens but they end up telling a story of nocturnal wildlife that is remarkable.
I saw this film on Pentecost Sunday and then went to work writing my sermon for Holy Trinity Sunday. Partly because we focused on earth keeping this spring at Trinity Lutheran Church, partly because of seeing The Biggest Little Farm, and because because everything is starting to bloom here in Idaho’s Treasure Valley, I ended up preaching on Psalm 8, and talked about how all of us can be partners with God in caring for creation.
O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouths of babes and infants
you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,
to silence the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them?
Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
and crowned them with glory and honour.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet,
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.