‘Use and value diversity’ is one of the ten core principles of permaculture — for good reason. Studies have shown that small, diversified farms can yield more than twice as much food per acre when compared to large monocultures. Crop diversity significantly contributes to soil health, which allows agricultural systems to be regenerative and increase the fertility of land over time, rather than leading — as industrial farming does — to inevitable degradation.
Diverse farms also require less chemicals inputs, as certain plants attract beneficial insects and others repel harmful ones. These farms contribute to an overall increase in species biodiversity, which is particularly critical today, as industrial agriculture is a primary driver of Earth’s 6th great wave of mass extinction, including the extinction of many important food crops.
However you look at it, diversity and sustainable farming cannot be separated. And the true beauty of diverse, small-scale farms is that not every farm looks the same — not even close. So, from permaculture to aquaculture, from mountains to urban neighborhoods, from orchards to ranch lands, here is a collection of short films that explore some of the more unique forms that sustainable farming systems can take.
Restoring Paradise – A look at the inspiring Mangarara Farm, in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, where holistic land management is allowing ranchers to transform the relationship between grazing animals and the environment. (7.50 min)
Farmed With Love – Fed up with chemical agriculture creating food safety problems in China, a mother in Shanghai returns to the land to start an organic farm — using ducks in place of fertilizers and and pesticides to help her rice thrive. (3.48 min)
13 Years Living Off the Land – In this honest look at the pros and cons of off-grid homesteading, homesteaders Peter and Magdalene of British Columbia, Canada share the challenges and the lessons learned from thirteen years of living off the land. (7.16 min)
Farming the Sea – An Elegant Solution – This film tells the story of fisherman Bren Smith of Thimble Island Ocean farm. At Thimble Island, Smith is practicing an exciting new method for integrating a sustainable undersea “farm” into a regenerative ecosystem — both above water and below. (6.27 min)
Rockin’ Young Farmer – A great example of a young farmer using permaculture principles to integrate orchard and animal systems in the heartland of industrial agriculture — the Central Valley of California. (10.56 min)
Oko Farms – A handmade aquaponic farming system brings fresh food and revitalization to a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. (7.25 min)
Forager – Tiffany Noé, an urban “forager,” lives lightly by finding wild food where you’d least expect it — in the streets of Miami, Florida. (7.16 min)
From Finance to Farmer – Permaculture farmer Andrew Martin gives a tour of his property as he recounts his journey from a finance job in Australia to an incredible permaculture property in New Zealand. (15.18 min)