Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Film Review: "Back to Eden" - 103 Minutes of Encouragement

UPDATE 11/30/12: I see this review has now been linked to from Back to Eden's Facebook page. Thank you - I appreciate what you guys are doing... hope there will one day be a sequel.

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I finished watching this film for the second time online, then thought... what the heck - I'm buying the DVD to share. At $15 with free shipping, it's well worth the price of admission.

It's not that the film is perfect... it's just that it's totally encouraging. Back To Eden is one of those slices of inspiration that makes you want to jump up about half-way through and reinvent your gardens.

The story is this:

Paul Gautschi, a Christian arborist with a small farm, has been doing everything the hard way... that is, the conventional way. Tilling, hoeing, pulling rocks, irrigating and suffering through poor yields and low rainfall is just the way things are... until he hears from God and a whole new adventure begins.

After his revelation and some inspired hard work, Paul's dirt goes from looking like the sun-baked hardpan above... to the rich compost-filled magic below.

Paul Gautschi garden and orchard, upon which the "Back to Eden" garden concept is based, is a no-till compost and woodchips approach along the lines of a Ruth Stout or a Patricia Lanza design.

Through the film, we discover Paul uses little to no irrigation... has almost no problem with weeds... doesn't have imbalances in his soil... and yields huge, disease-free vegetables with consistency.

Giant cabbages and pretty gals! Heck yeah!

His enthusiasm is infectious and his memorization of Scripture impressive. When things get ugly, Paul is the sort of guy you'd want living next door.

As the film progresses, we hear from various experts about their views on soil, irrigation, organic growing and Paul's methods. One of those is his use of dirt from his chicken run... he mentions the amazing job chickens do of breaking down scraps into rich soil and states the eggs are "just a byproduct."

Killer dirt from the chicken run.

We also get to see inside other farms that are still struggling with more conventional growing techniques and the comparison isn't flattering.

In the second half of the film, the producers take us on a journey to "Back to Eden" gardens constructed elsewhere. This part of the film doesn't varnish over the issues with nitrogen robbing by high-carbon materials and the time it takes for the soil to reach a higher fertility. However, it also gets a little thin on content, particularly if you're a Certified Mad Horticulturist such as myself.

No snakes in the "Back to Eden" garden. Or nudity.

For newbies, though, it's just fine. In fact, one of the reason I bought the physical DVD is so I can share it with my less green-thumbed friends and relatives and open their eyes to new possibilities for their yards.

One rather entertaining segment features Paul sharing his produce with visitors, including a boy from China who basically eats his weight in produce.

Slow down, kid - it's not like you're Ethiopian.

All around, a good watch and an encouraging flick. If you're not sold on buying the DVD, you can see the entire film here:


The filmmakers obviously had a lot of fun putting this together, as manifested in a music video featuring fruits and veggies lined up to the beat... and fun scene changes such as this:

Worth watching. Copies can be purchased here.


3.5/5 Spuds


At November 30, 2012 at 2:26 PM , Blogger Ten at Eat Your Sands said...

finally watched it, and i like what he's doing. If he could simmer down the quoting, i think his own actual observations are more than adequate for a brilliant video.
We do wood chip compost too. :) Great minds think alike.

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