Farmer John Writes: Anything Anyone Want to Know About Me?

Harvest Week 7, August 4th – 10th, 2020

Ruth Reichl (former editor of Gourmet Magazine, memoirist and cookbook editor) once presented on the film about my life, The Real Dirt on Farmer John.  Ruth was an expert on such matters. I was told I was not welcome to attend her presentation, so, I attended in disguise.

I bring this up today because I noticed in this recent announcement Harvesting Change: Our Food Supply in Pandemic Time (held on July 23rd) that The Real Dirt on Farmer John was recommended as one of the films to watch prior to an online discussion with Ruth Reichl. Ruth and the other panelists were noted as the region’s leading lights in sustainable food and farming.  Here is the list of recommended films:

The Real Dirt on Farmer John (2005)

Symphony of the Soil (2014)

The Biggest Little Farm (2018)

Right To Harm (2019)

My Keynote That Didn’t Happen in Modena, Italy, June, 2008
Before I write more about what happened at Ruth Reichl’s presentation on the story of my life at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, NY, I will mention screening the film in Italy at IFOAM, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements.

(I suggest that you check out the IFOAM interview with me from back then to learn a bit more about the film and my tour with it.)

IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) invited me to attend their conference as a keynote speaker, and to screen The Real Dirt several times. Delegates from over 100 countries were at the Congress to engage their commitment to assist and unite the worldwide organic movement in all its diversity.

I’m bringing up my attendance at the IFOAM Conference in conjunction with my appearance in disguise at the Jacob Burns Film Center, because the theme common to both is that a farmer can’t possibly know that much about his life or how he farms, not if there are experts available to provide commentary on the farmer’s life and farming methods, impressing the crowd with their credentials and technical words. Even though I was listed as a keynote speaker, I was not given the opportunity to provide a keynote address.

There were thousands of attendees at the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements conference. I don’t believe that I ran into a single farmer there. I don’t believe there was a single farmer who presented at the conference, other than me, and what I did there hardly qualified as a presentation. Besides the keynote which I never gave, I was there to present the film, but the publicity for it was so obscure, so deeply tucked away into the conference programs, that hardly a soul at the conference even knew that The Real Dirt on Farmer John was being presented four times at the conference. About 10 to 20 people attended each screening. (I had arrived at Modena shortly after attending a sold-out screening to an audience of 1600 at Roger Ebert’s Film Festival in Champaign, Illinois.)

There was an enormous hall at the IFOAM conference dedicated to research that academics were doing on organic farming. I wandered through this chamber trying to comprehend at least one of the research projects documented there. I kept thinking these qualify as publications for keeping the credentials of the professors valid, or as dissertations for PhD candidates. They were almost all so technical, so academic, that I found them unfathomable and certainly inaccessible to almost anyone involved in actual farming.

It was as though the organic movement could not be upheld or forwarded by the farmers doing the work. Experts from all over the world were there bringing their credentials and their formal studies to the realm of organic agriculture, thereby legitimizing it and elevating it. I thought how fortunate that there are universities where people who couldn’t possibly make a living farming can have a respectable and lucrative place in society.

Back to Pleasantville
Back to Ruth Reichl’s presentation of the screening of my film at the Jacob Burns Film Center. It was made clear to me that I was not an expert on my own life, so Ruth and her associate Janet Maslin (film and literary critic for The New York Times) would be the experts that night.

I wrote about this event in Farm News, Week 20, 2013. It is a detailed and dramatic account of their presentation and my infiltration of the event. I suggest you read it in its entirety, but here are a couple of highlights:

my disguise

I sat through a few more minutes of their pontificating on my life. I had gone to the screening, planning to just see what the discussion was like and then slip out unnoticed. I can’t remember what it was that finally got to me… But what were these two women doing up there, acting like they were authorities on my life? The film touched on the reprehensible practice of making things up about others. Here they were, talking me down with fabrications. Hadn’t they just watched the film?

I raised my hand and waved  for the microphone that was being circulated to the audience. When it was handed to me, I stood up and announced, ‘Good evening. I’m Farmer John.’

I took the pink boa out of my back pocket, threw it around my neck and said,  “Anything anyone wants to know about me, I’m here to give you the answers.”

Farmer John revealed

A  hush engulfed the room, then a collective gasp.

Read the whole story at Farm News, Week 20, 2013.

Was Ruth Worried?
Did expert Ruth wonder if I would attend her recent Zoom presentation in disguise?

On Authority

People generally say that they do not believe anything on authority. But when it comes to the point of crediting what is taught from the professorial chair, then people are today frightfully credulous, they believe everything that is taught.
~ Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, 21st, February, 1923

The U-Pick Garden Is Now Open
The U-Pick garden is now open for your sustenance and your pleasure. Come pick flowers, beans and herbs. The bean plants are a bit raggedy, and the beans are a bit raggedy and the beans are a bit past their prime, but you might be fine enough with them. The beans, flowers and herbs come and go with the weather and the season, so your harvest from the U-Pick will vary depending on when you visit.

The U-Pick Garden is available at no charge to shareholders, Angelic Organics Learning Center staff, and other friends of the farm.

U-Pick Garden

Park at the Farmstead and Walk to the U-Pick Garden
The U-pick garden is about 200 ft west of the barns, easily accessible by foot.

Park your car along the fence line north of the farmstead where many other cars and trucks and tractors are parked. Walk just past the two barns, turn left for 40 feet or so, then turn right to head out to the U-Pick.

No Need to Call
Come whenever you want—no need to notify us.

Please Bring Your Own Harvest Gear and Be Careful
Due to the pandemic, please bring your own clippers and harvest container. We suggest that you wear a mask and rubber gloves.

Learn More About Our U-Pick Garden
Before visiting our U-Pick Garden, please visit our U-Pick Garden web page to learn more.

Maybe I’ll see you out here when you visit our U-Pick Garden.

Warmly,
Farmer John

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Showing 8 comments
  • Margaret
    Reply

    I LOVE that you did that! How I’ve learned just how idiotic & pompous folks can be…R Reichl included… during this pandemic and prior. He who does not have dirt under his nails knows not much. (did you happen to watch film Bottleshock? When CA enters the French wine scene 1976…)
    FYI – wanted to share that i love my delivery as well, I don’t even read th label I open and get my lovely surprise bounty. It is super fabulous after 20 yrs of picking up and that coordinating/travel etc that occurred. I’m loving the harvest like never before…I think music comes out of my box when i open it..i’ll listen closer next time.

    • Farmer John
      Reply

      “I think music comes out of my box when i open it.” Oh, my Margaret, this made my day. Thank you!

  • Deborah Ham
    Reply

    Hi Farmer John. We are first time customers doing a half share and we love it. Here’s another comment about customizing. We are empty nesters and appreciate being able to customize our order and get items we know we will eat between deliveries. I grew up in a home where meals were planned so there was no waste, and I continue in that tradition. Customization allows me to do that. For example, this past week I swapped cucumbers for additional corn. My neighbor has been dropping off cucumbers at my door a few times a week and I’m running out of ways to use them. We shared some corn with them, and they loved it. I may have gotten you a new customer next year. So I thank you for the lovely, nutritious produce you are providing, and the opportunity to have some choice in what we get.

  • Farmer John
    Reply

    Lovely details that you share about customization, Deborah. Much appreciated.

  • Sari A Breslin
    Reply

    That is such an awesome story! We went to a screening that was held at The Cultural Center in Chicago when you were on tour. There were also other organic farms represented with delicious foods to sample. It was an awesome event and I even got your autograph! Love the movie, your story, your cookbook and again, we have been loyal shareholders for years!

    Thank you!

    • Farmer John
      Reply

      I remember that screening well. The Cultural Center is one of my most favorite buildings in the whole world. It was a dream to screen a film about my farm there.

  • Jenene M Francis
    Reply

    Thanks for everything, Farmer John and Farm Team, I continue to enjoy the every other week arrival of “edible dividends on my investment”. Had I known that I/we would be home 24/7, I might have moved up from half to full! I lean towards liking the customization, but would be okay if you decide to let it go. I can always find a good home for the occasional beets and chard 😉 And I actually am fond of pea shoots! (https://www.instagram.com/p/CC16X2gpXz-/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link) Take good care!

  • Farmer John
    Reply

    Angelic Organics beets are supposed to convert brazen beet avoiders into boisterous beet braggarts. Could you maybe give them another chance? Glad to learn that you are a fan of pea shoots. They need love, too.

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