Want to feel hopeful and inspired about doing your bit to adapt to climate change?
Actor, director and farmer, Rachel Ward, shows the way in her cracking yarn, Rachel’s Farm: one woman’s journey from ecological despair to finding hope in the soil beneath her feet.
The film is about her response to the impact of climate change induced bushfires and floods on the family’s Nambucca Heads cattle farm.
2019 Black Summer bushfires were a factor
Rachel was dismayed by the Black Summer 2019 bushfires which came close to destroying the farm she has owned with husband Bryan Brown for over 30 years.
A new grandson increased her fears for the future. Salvation came in the form of her laconic farm manager and neighbour Mick Green, who suggested changing from conventional land management to regenerative agriculture.
Rachel also read Charles Massey’s book Call of the Reed Warbler which details regenerative farming as the way to secure food supply, the landscape and the planet.
‘This was the catalyst for me to understand the ecological impacts of conventional agriculture on my own rural property and embrace more regenerative practices,’ says Rachel.
‘I shudder at how ignorant I was and how many still are; unwittingly playing a part in the degeneration of our health, landscapes and polluting our waterways.’
There’s a better way
Part of the film’s magic is how simply Rachel lays out the difference between conventional and regenerative agriculture.
Conventional farming methods take everything from the land and only return chemical fertilisers, pesticides and insecticides, often leaving dead dusty soil.
Regenerative agriculture feeds and nurtures the land and plants with organic chemical free inputs and uses smart methods like rotating livestock to prevent overgrazing and contouring the land to retain water.
Often, including in Rachel’s case, it will build on traditional knowledge of First Nations people who have arguably been practicing regenerative agriculture for thousands of years.
Sound easy? Rachel’s regular expletives, challenges and hard yakka demonstrate entertainingly that this conversion was far from easy.
She tackles it energetically anyway, becoming a full-time farm hand during the conversion.
It’s about relationships too
Her collaborative and sometimes flinty working relationship with farm manager Mick Green is a joy to watch. They banter and disagree respectfully but frankly in typical Australian style.
There are serious setbacks making you wonder if she will achieve her goal to get certified as regenerative farmer.
The whole story is set in the context of Rachel’s supportive family. During intimate moments, husband Bryan Brown and daughter Matilda supply wry insights into Rachel’s unstoppable commitment.
It’s funny, heart-warming, inspiring and deeply relevant to anyone witnessing the effects of climate change and maybe feeling overwhelmed about what do to.
Rachel’s Farm is a tonic needed for a world already wearied by climate change. It is recommended viewing for anyone who gives a damn about caring for our land, air and water and everything that depends on them.
It is screening at cinemas around Australia in August and September, in the US in September and October and streaming from mid-September.
Details and trailer here