Michael Ableman - sustainable agriculture, organic farming

Michael Ableman's Writing & Photography


Beyond Organic
The Vision of Fairview Gardens

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Reviews of Beyond Organic

A model of community supported agriculture in the midst of suburban sprawl.

33 minutes
DVD-R version available
Grade Level: 7-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2000
Copyright Date: 2000
ISBN (VHS): 1-56029-831-6
ISBN (DVD): 1-59458-348-X

Produced by John de Graaf
Based on books by Michael Ableman, From The Good Earth and On Good Land
Narrated by Meryl Streep

Fairview Gardens is an urban farm located in Goleta, California, right in the middle of some of the most expensive real estate in the U.S. Managed for the past two decades by visionary farmer/photographer/author, Michael Ableman, this 12-acre organic farm has become a model of sustainable food production and community involvement, as well as an inspiration for thousands of people all over the world.

While managing the farm, Ableman traveled around the world learning from the best examples of traditional agriculture. A talented professional photographer, his slides and observations -- carefully captured in BEYOND ORGANIC -- became the basis for two of his popular books From The Good Earth and On Good Land . At the same time he became an outspoken critic of large-scale commercial agriculture, with its reliance on vast inputs of fossil fuels, water, pesticides and other chemicals.

BEYOND ORGANIC tells the story of this amazing farm and its long battle to survive in the face of rapid suburban development. It explores the efforts of Ableman and his staff to diversify the farm, open it to educational tours for thousands of people -- especially schoolchildren -- and defend it against angry neighbors, hostile public officials and developers eager to re-zone the land for condominiums. It draws a sharp contrast between community supported agriculture and conventional chemical farming, and it calls on organic farmers to remember basic principles, including fair labor practices, as their farms grow in size and power.

BEYOND ORGANIC is a dramatic story with a happy ending. Other neighbors -- and eventually the entire Santa Barbara community -- rallied around Fairview Gardens and raised $800,000 to preserve it as a land trust, and as a source of inspiration, for future generations.

Study guide available

* The DVD version of this program is recorded on DVD-R format which is not compatible with some older DVD players.


- Best of Category, EarthVision Environmental
  Film & Video Festival
- Bronze Plaque, Columbus International Film
  & Video Festival
- Vermont International Film Festival
- Equinox Environmental Film Festival
- Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's
- Olympia Environmental Film Festival
- Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival
- MountainFilm in Telluride
- International Environmental Film Festival
  "Green Vision" in St. Petersburg

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  Fields of Plenty, by Michael Ableman

Beautiful cinematography and engaging storytelling--a must see!"
- Nina Simons, co-producer, Bioneers Conference

"This video is an outstanding glimpse into how the increasingly rapid tempo of destruction of rural land dedicated to raising crops could be slowed, resulting in a diversity of healthful food for our citizens. Highly recommended ."
- Buzz Haughton, Shields Library, UC-Davis, MC Journal

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Copyright © 2005 Michael Ableman, All Rights Reserved