Farmer John News & Reviews

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Farmer John is happily back on his farm for the next many months and probably years. He already has many farm based projects underway. It's no longer easy to pry him away for appearances. 

Past Events

Joshua Tree, CA
April 2, 2010 at Ricochet Gourmet. Farmer John in attendance!

Hollywood, CA
March 26, 2010 at private event with Farmer John

Janesville, WI
March 12, 2010: Screening with Q&A at Basics Cooperative, followed by reception and luncheon.

Los Angeles!
Community Creative Space hm157 presented the epic film, The Real Dirt on Farmer John. Farmer John himself attended this rare L.A. screening at the Church of Fashion / hm157.
(hm157 stands for : Historical monument # 157 on the California Historical landmark list.)

Check them out here:

Farmer John was lavishly hosted in Portland in early October: dinners, receptions, parties, a cookbook signing at the Portland Farmer's market -- all this in a 2 1/2 day flurry. Out of all the cities where The Real Dirt on Farmer John screened, it played by far the best in Portland. Read about Farmer John's recent visit to Portland. And a great blog entry about his Portland visit!

The Midwest! Farmer John Presented The Real Dirt:
- At Angelic Organics on Sept 26, 2009
- In Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Sept 12, 2009
- At Cornell College, Iowa on Sept 11, 2009

Farmer John at the YIP Youth Conference in Sweden
In mid July, 2009, I presented "The Real Dirt on Farmer John" at a large Youth Conference in Järna, Sweden called "360° Exploring Community - an Initiative Conference!" Details at:

I presented about love, destiny, and free will at the conference. Both the film and my Community in Agriculture presentation were in the large hall of the Järna Cultural House.

YIP (Youth Initiative Program) is a super fantastic year-long program, with exuberant, motivated, dedicated youth participating and making a big difference in the world. (BTW, exuberant is not the same as unruly.)

Check it out:

Farmer John Studies Spiritually Appropriate Design via The First Goetheanum
In mid May, 2009, I, Farmer John, attended a conference about The First Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland. This was an extraordinarily rich and imaginative building designed by Rudolf Steiner, built over many years by hundreds of craftspeople and artists from all over the world. It was intended to be "for the spiritual life of the future." It's a building that I feel very close to, though I have never directly encountered it: it was burned by arsonists in 1923.

From a lecture by Rudolf Steiner in Dornach on June 17, 1914
"However much study may be devoted to the elimination of crime and wrong-doing in the world, true redemption, the turning of evil into good, will in future depend upon whether true art and architecture are able to generate a definite cultural atmosphere, an atmosphere that can so fill the hearts and souls of human beings - if they allow this atmosphere to influence them - that liars will cease to lie and disturbers of the peace will cease to disturb the peace of their fellow citizens. Buildings will begin to speak."

I hope my immersion in the history of The First Goetheanum will help me to design inspirational and spiritually appropriate structures for Angelic Organics.

Farmer John & Lesley Littlefield present The Real Dirt at the Art Monastery near Rome
On May 27, Lesley and I presented The Real Dirt on Farmer John at the Art Monastery in Italy. We had a scrumptious Umbrian feast after a refreshing rainfall, then Lesley played a short concert to open the film, and after the screening we had a lively Q&A. The Art Monastery Project in Umbria, Italy, produces transformative art, performance and music. They are also interested in growing their own food. Farmer John and Lesley offered ideas on food production. (Lesley worked hard in the fields of Angelic Organics one summer. Notice that she is no longer farming.)

NOW COMPLETE: The Angelic Organics Biodynamic Farm Tour of Europe!
Started February 2, 2009 at the Biodynamic Agriculture Conference in Dornach, Switzerland. See our itinerary, which outlines our daily activities and descriptions of the Biodynamic farms, schools, and other hosts we visited.

John's sidekick, Hannah, who was with John on his European tour of BD farms in Fall, 2008, wrote a delightful blog while on their journey, chock-full of adventures, laughs, and farmish fun. Have a look...

Film Release!
"[The Real Dirt on Farmer John] displays a spirit, a daring, and a goodness that revives one's faith in post-2000 USA."
~John Pratt

Not in the U.S. or Canada?
Now you can host screenings and buy The Real Dirt DVDs in your own country!

NOW COMPLETE: IFOAM Organic World Congress
Modena, Italy
June, 2008
Watch Farner John's IFOAM interview on YouTube.

IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) invited Farmer John to attend as a keynote speaker, and 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.

NOW COMPLETE: Ebertfest 2008:
The 10th Annual Roger Ebert Film Festival

We were honored to receive Roger Ebert's special invitation to participate in this festival! Taggart and Farmer John will be there. Other special guests this year include director Tom DiCillo, director Ang Lee, and producer Christopher Sheppard.

Virginia Theatre
Champaign, IL

NOW COMPLETE: Earth Day Film Festival
April 25 - 27, 2008
Opening film is The Real Dirt on Farmer John - 7pm, Friday, April 25
With guest speakers Elaine Sukava and Cliff Luther.
Craik, Saskatchewan, Canada

NOW COMPLETE: New Zealand Release & Tour
Spring, 2008
Opens nationally on April 17.
See the full New Zealand screening schedule for times and locations.

NOW COMPLETE: Australian Release & Tour
Fall, 2007
Gil Scrine Films acquired The Real Dirt On Farmer John for Australia and New Zealand. Farmer John and director Taggart Siegel helped to open theaters in both countries. Taggart has a farm in New Zealand, and Farmer John finally got to see it (after Taggart has spent 27 years seeing John's farm).

Throughout Australia, The Real Dirt had super receptions: in Melbourne, Hobart, Perth, Margaret River, Denmark (not the country Denmark, but a small town in SW Australia), Adelaide, and Castlemaine! Most of the premier screenings were way beyond sold out. Since early 2007, the Australians have moved us deeply with their plentiful heartfelt emails. See their comments on The Real Dirt, and everyone else's comments (on The Real Dirt and more) in our WorldWide Talkback section. You can submit your own comments there, too!

Melbourne was one of the most fantastically responsive audiences anywhere ever—-a full theater, and lots of cookbook sales (unlike in Europe, English prevails here). A farm family drove for a full day to see it. Another couple drove 1 1/2 hours; they told John they already have a copy from the tv airing and that they watch the film once a week, but that they wanted to meet John and see the film on the big screen. Nearly half the audience had already seen the film on public television.

Very influential TV reviewers did a great review of the film. One of them, renowned for never crying, wept as she talked about the film. See this great review online here, and another shorter one here and here.

John has gotten so many invitations to visit farms, gardens, schools, restaurants, and people are falling over one another to put him up, give him a ride, feed him...he heartily exclaims, "Australians are so hospitable!"

NOW COMPLETE: German Release & Tour Early Fall, 2007
September 7 through September 23, 2007
See the dizzying European schedule, including sponsors as well as the non-German cities we also visited as part of this tour.

KinoStar Productions released The Real Dirt in Germany with a 16-city tour of the film, sponsored by KinoStar, Slow Food Germany, and Demeter Germany. Lesley wowed the audience throughout theaters in Europe with a short concert, and she and I closed the film discussion with a duet of The Bug Song (in costume, of course). See a night of it here, on YouTube.


The tour was speckled with inspiring farm visits, delicious organic feasts, and even some hippy road-tripping in a swirly-painted VW van! Farmer John and Lesley attended numerous press conferences and warm receptions, and were thrilled to have the opportunity to visit the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland, the home of Rudolf Steiner’s body of work. There was great enthusiasm for CSA, especially in Prague and Belgium, and fantastic student support at our screening at the Culture House in Jarna (in Sweden), with squeals, cheers, and a wild standing ovation. We also did a special screening at the Norweigian Parliament in Oslo. Overall, the tour was amazing and extensive, full of impressions, incredible stories, and new friendships. What a supreme confluence of film, music, food, and farming: agriCULTURE!

Summer, 2007
NOW COMPLETE: U.S. Release & Tour

The U.S. release of The Real Dirt On Farmer John was conducted this past summer.

Upcoming Theatrical Screenings!

See the schedule...

Hello my name is kashi, ALTHOUGH I am only ten years old I have been continuengliy inspiered by your work best wishes kashi!

*October, 2007, in Melbourne*
John invited Kashi up to the stage and she announced to the audience at Nova Cinema that she plans to be a farmer.

The Critics

"This is a loving, moving, inspiring, quirky documentary...visionaries like Peterson are finding a way back to the land."
--Roger Ebert, (3 1/2 stars out of 4)
Full Review...

Los Angeles Times
July 27, 2007
"Inspiring 'Farmer John' is both one man's story and a telling look at American agriculture" by Kevin Crust
If a man declared that he enjoyed working the land and getting dirty, you'd probably assume he were a farmer. If the same man took a bite from a handful of soil, proclaimed it tasty and then confessed to a proclivity for prancing about in glitzy, theatrical costumes, you might think him eccentric but you'd want to know more.
For full sotry...

The Seattle Times
July 20, 2007
"The Real Dirt one far-out farmer's heartwarming story" by Jeff Shannon
When you consider that John Peterson embodies many of the All-American values you'd find in a Norman Rockwell painting, it's a bit jarring to think that most of his rural neighbors used to suspect "Farmer John" of drug running, orgies and Satan worship on his family's multi-generational farm in northern Illinois.
For full story...

The New Yorker
June 25, 2007
"THE FILM FILE: The Real Dirt on Farmer John" by Shauna Lyon
[Peterson's] story offers an example not only of the spiritual value of honoring one's provenance but also of how sustained effort can lead to greatness...
For full story...

The New York Times
June 21, 2007
"A Look at Loss and Reinvention" by Jeanette Catsoulis
Firmly anchored by its protagonist's love of the land, "The Real Dirt on Farmer John" offers one man's extraordinary life as a gateway to a larger history of tragedy and transition. It's an unflinching account of what farming takes -- and, more important, what it gives back...
For full story...

June 21, 2007
"The Al Gore of Community Farming" by S. James Snyder
John Peterson knows a thing or two about the struggles of the family farm. After losing his northern Illinois farm, and a sizeable majority of his land, in the 1980s due to a combination of skyrocketing interest rates, mounting bank loans and underperforming crops...
"For full story..."

The Village Voice
June 20th, 2007
"Tracking Shots: The Real Dirt on Farmer John" by Julia Wallace
...the agrarian fantasy is so compelling here that the revitalization of the American family farm begins to seem not just possible, but probable...
For full story...

Food & Wine Magazine
June 19, 2007
"Think The Grapes of Wrath meets The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test..."
Full blog entry...

And here's John's interview on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross...

More in our Raves & Reviews section and our Press Archives

Or, see Rotten Tomatoes site for a thorough smorgasboard of reviews!

The Fans

"I want to say to you that's the most important film I ever saw. You are a Hope for the world. I will wish that kind of project could be made in my country: México. Thanks about the words you said in the film of our Mexican country workers. Love, Viola"

"Phenomenal. There are moments when something touches us so thoroughly that it immediately slips deep into our souls, finds a home. The film is beautiful because it captures the love for the land. Touching, as it explores the plight of the farm families. But, the film is also about love and the "undefinable something" that we call the human spirit. I feel fortunate to have met your story."
~Rhode Island

"We we're immediately hooked on your story. I think we both related to your free spirit and perseverance. It was absolutely everything I needed to help inspire me to never give up on my dreams. You set a great example of how people should live their lives with an open mind. Giving to the earth, and the earth will give back... giving to the community, and the community will give back."
~Milwaukee, WI

"I was crying by the end with hope and joy about what you have done to make this a better world. I know you have started a real movement. I want to show it to as many people as I can!"
~United States

Read what other Real Dirt fans say.


People love our cookbook, too!
It's called Farmer John's Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables.

The Critics

This is a delicious book, equal parts food for the mind and belly. Relish it.
~ Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma ~

It's Whole Earth Catalog-style authenticity for the 21st century...
~ Newsweek ~

From The New York Times, in the Dining section, an article about Farmer John as a writer, from the by Dana Bowan from June 20, 2007
"Old MacDonald Now Has a Book Contract"

More cookbook Raves & Reviews

The Fans

"Hello Angelic Organics! I'm writing this to say a big THANK YOU for the wonderful cookbook. Most people keep their cookbooks in the kitchen, but I'm keeping this one right next to my bed because I'm really reading it cover to cover! The instructions are easy to read and understand, and the food tastes great. Looking forward to Spring!"
~Angelic Organics Shareholder, Chicago

"The book has a lot of personality, like Farmer John himself, and the outtakes from his experiences over the years, including things that have been overheard, comments from shareholders, and the astounding amount of work done by the CSA team, make this book a total experience, and not just a compilation of recipes."

Read what other fans say about Farmer John's Cookbook.

Here's what shareholders write about Angelic Organics.

"My husband and I just ate one of your butterscotch melons for the first time this morning for breakfast. What a treat! It was wonderful. I just made fresh juice with the rest of it. Thanks for allowing us to try new things and enjoy the fruits of your labor."
~Alison N, Angelic Organics Shareholder

"The first garlic I got from you was so amazing....I had one radish that I split with my sister and I've been dreaming about it ever since. You have helped me to expand the variety of what I eat on a regular basis- even when I go to the grocery store. Thanks!"
~Angelic Organics Shareholder

My 3 year old upon eating your watermelon declared that he wanted to be a watermelon farmer when he grows up. This is particularly significant, since for the last year he has always wanted to be a firefighter. I guess it was a pretty inspiring slice of watermelon.
~Chaz M., Angelic Organics Shareholder

"Isn't it like Christmas every week when you open that box? You never know what you'll find, but you know that something there will delight you."
~Angelic Organics Shareholder

Farmer john Adds...

Praise be to Angelic Organics general manager Bob Bower and many others at the farm for supplying 5,000 people a week with vegetables and herbs from Angelic Organics, while I continue touring the world with a message of hope and sustainability.

Farming is tough, but for me not farming is really tough. This has been my 3rd season off the farm, helping to usher The Real Dirt on Farmer John and my cookbook The Real Dirt on Vegetables into the world, while working to get more books done and helping to run the farm from afar. I especially don't like being gone from the farm in the spring: tilling fields, seeding cover crops, strategizing, marveling, fretting, wondering, bouncing, running, wrenching, banging, sweating, sniffing, aching, huffing, exalting, imploring...

Primo, the farm's main equipment operator, started up one of my tractors, my Case/International 1394, earlier this year, so I could hear her run while he and I were on the phone. I felt her beckon me. Maybe that's why I decided shortly thereafter to order a new Bobcat skidsteer loader for the farm, with numerous attachments. It was my way of showing up at the farm and getting something done, without actually going there and doing anything. And that Bobcat will do a lot: load, scrape, lift, mow, dump, grade, stack, ditch, dig, blade, level, blow snow...

Check out "Machinery Monogamy", the love story I wrote about the 1394 a few years back that will be coming out in my book of short stories, Farmer John on Glitter & Grease.

Maybe see you at a screening. (Make murmuring and revving 1394 sounds at your own risk.)

Farmer John

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Lesley Littlefield, News & Reviews Editor
[email protected]

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