When you take the time to sit down and watch a little TV, why not fill that time with Inspiration, Motivation, and Education by watching a great documentary about permaculture and homesteading.
National Geographic isn’t the only one that can make a great documentary, many independent filmmakers on this list have changed lives with their great works. The films below are considered some of the best by me and many others.
- 1. The Biggest Little Farm
- 2. The Permaculture Orchard
- 3. Permaculture Chickens
- 4. Great American Farm Tour
- 5. Living the Change: Inspiring Stories for a Sustainable Future
- 6. A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity
- 7. Seeds of Permaculture – Tropical Permaculture
- 8. Living Soil
- 9. Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective
- 10. Growing Cities Urban farming in America
- 11. Permaculture: A Quiet Revolution
- 12. Regreening the Desert
- 13. 2040
- 14. Back To Eden
- 15. Homegrown Revolution
Some of these films are older and what they lack in high-quality production they make up for in content. Others are newer and have very high production value. Whichever ones you choose to watch, I have no doubts you will benefit greatly from the information within.
One thing I want to mention, however, not everything in every video I would agree with as many permaculturists and homesteaders hold to different worldviews. I approach permaculture from a Christian worldview so much of our philosophy differs but the practice is still applied in the same way and these videos have much to offer.
1. The Biggest Little Farm
A FILM BY JOHN CHESTER – RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes – RATING: PG
THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM chronicles the eight-year quest of John and Molly Chester as they trade city living for 200 acres of barren farmland and a dream to harvest in harmony with nature. Featuring breathtaking cinematography, captivating animals, and an urgent message, THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM provides us all a vital blueprint for better living and a healthier planet.
What this film lacks in information, it makes up for in entertainment. This couple’s method of acquiring the money to invest in a permaculture farm isn’t very relatable for most people because of John’s unique career as a filmmaker working on many tv shows and other popular documentaries.. However, the inspiration that can be gained by witnessing the overcoming of failures and final success makes this film one worth watching.
2. The Permaculture Orchard
A FILM BY OLIVIER ASSELIN –
Based on 20 years of applied theory and trial and error, biologist and educator Stefan Sobkowiak shares his experience transforming a conventional apple orchard into an abundance of biodiversity that virtually takes care of itself. The concepts, techniques, and tips presented in this film will help you with your own project, whether it is just a few fruit trees in your urban backyard or a full-scale multi-acre commercial orchard.
The Permaculture Orchard: Beyond Organic is a feature-length educational film that will teach you how to set up your own permaculture orchard at any scale. We recognize the limitations of the organic model as a substitute for conventional fruit growing and want to propose a more holistic, regenerative approach based on permaculture principle.
3. Permaculture Chickens
A FILM BY JUSTIN RHODES –
This film is about how to raise your own chickens with nature from hatching to the plate. The documentary features an all-star cast in the homesteading and permaculture world with appearances from Justin Rhodes, Joel Salatin, Jim Adkins, Pat Foreman, and Lisa Steele.
If incorporating chickens into your permaculture farm is something you want to do then watching this film can teach you what you want to know to make the most out of raising chickens. Justin teaches you more than chicken husbandry, he teaches the permaculture concepts of integration and function stacking as well.
4. Great American Farm Tour
A FILM BY JUSTIN RHODES –
It was a dream of the Rhodes family to chuck it all to travel America discovering her greatest farms, sites, and people. After years of excuses, they asked what they’d do if they weren’t afraid. The answer was clear, so they converted an old school bus into a home, left their farm, and set out on an epic journey through 50 states.
Part of what made this film especially great for me was that I watched the journey as it was happening on Justin’s YouTube channel. From the purchase and conversion of the school bus into their new home and even seeing each visit they made along the trip as they posted weekly. It was quite a journey, and seeing it condensed and packed up into a full-featured film brought it all back for me.
I think what you will mostly get from this film is inspiration as you witness many families doing their part to live a more sustainable and healthy life by growing their own food. Many in this film practice permaculture while others are simply homesteading in a more conventional way. This film is sure to be a blessing to you as you watch it and gain a renewed hope.
5. Living the Change: Inspiring Stories for a Sustainable Future
A FILM BY JORDAN OSMAND AND ANTOINETTE WILSON
Living the Change is a feature-length documentary that explores solutions to the global crises we face today – solutions any one of us can be part of – through the inspiring stories of people pioneering change in their own lives and in their communities in order to live in a sustainable and regenerative way.
Directors Jordan Osmond and Antoinette Wilson have brought together stories from their travels, along with interviews with experts able to explain how we come to be where we are today. From forest gardens to composting toilets, community-supported agriculture to timebanking, Living the Change offers ways we can rethink our approach to how we live.
6. A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity
A FILM BY JORDAN OSMAND AND ANTOINETTE WILSON
This documentary follows a community in Australia that came together to explore and demonstrate a way to live a simple life in response to global crises. Throughout the year the group build tiny houses, plant veggie gardens, practice simple living, and discover the challenges of living in community.
The film documents the community’s learning process as well as exploring the global issues having an environmental impact that we’re potentially facing, through interviews with some of today’s most interesting speakers on the subjects, including permaculture co-originator David Holmgren, filmmaker, and activist Helena Norberg-Hodge, climate change activist David Spratt and many more.
7. Seeds of Permaculture – Tropical Permaculture
A FILM BY GREETJE MULDER AND ROGIER VAN DER VOORT
An interactive documentary about permaculture in the tropics. Set against a beautiful Thai backdrop, the film takes a look at two permaculture education centers where visitors from all over the world come to educate themselves to be self-sufficient, produce no waste, build their homes and gardens, but most of all they learn to build communities.
Christian Shearer (founder of WeTheTrees and the Panya Project) guides the film through A philosophy of permaculture and a number of tropical strategies to help bring health and resilience to the permaculture farm.
8. Living Soil
A FILM BY CHELSEA MYERS
Living Soil tells the story of farmers, scientists, and policymakers working to incorporate agricultural practices to benefit soil health for years to come. Living Soil takes you on a journey from lush landscapes in Oregon, the sun-baked fields of California, the vast green acres of the Midwest, to the waterfront farming and fishing communities in and around the Chesapeake Bay. Each farmer shares a story as unique as the soil they manage with a shared theme that resonates throughout the film: Our soil is a special resource we should all cherish and strive to protect.
This film allows the audience to hear directly from agronomists working diligently to change the political and economic drivers shaping the way our society uses one of its most important resources. Special consideration is given to farmers that live and work the soil each and every day. Hopefully, the stories of these proactive farmers resonate as our growing population searches for ways to increase the productivity of our soils. After viewing this film, the audience should have a greater understanding and appreciation for the hard-won efforts of several farmers and a greater appreciation for the resource that nourishes us, our Living Soil.
9. Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective
A FILM BY COSTA BOUTSIKARIS
This film explores the many environmental issues facing us today and examines solutions that are being applied using the ecological design process called Permaculture. This video teaches how permaculture is a design lens that uses the principles found in ecosystems to help shift our impact from destructive to regenerative. Focused mostly on the Northeastern and Midwestern regions of the United States, Inhabit provides an intimate look at permaculture peoples and practices ranging from rural, suburban, and urban landscapes.
Humanity is more than ever threatened by its own actions; we hear a lot about the need to minimize footprints and to reduce our impact. But what if our footprints were beneficial? What if we could meet human needs while increasing the health and well-being of our planet? This is the premise behind permaculture: a design process based on the replication of patterns found in nature. INHABIT explores the many environmental issues facing us today and examines solutions that are being applied using the ecological design lens of permaculture. Focused mostly on the Northeastern and Midwestern regions of the United States, Inhabit provides an intimate look at permaculture peoples and practices ranging from rural, suburban, and urban landscapes.
Probably my favorite film on this list, mostly because it features many of my favorite permaculture practitioners such as Ben Falk, Eric Toensmeier, Lisa Fernandes, Steve Whitman, Lisa Depiano, Dwaine Lee, Andrew Faust, Paula Hewitt, Rhamis Kent, Ari Rosenberg, Louis Sanchez, Pandora Thomas, Charles Eisenstein, Michael Phillips, Keith Morris, Steve Gabriel, Susana Kaye Lein, Mark Shepard, Dave Jacke, and Geoff Lawton.
10. Growing Cities Urban farming in America
A FILM BY DANIEL SUSMAN
This documentary film examines the role of urban farming in America and asks how much power it has to change the way we eat. In their search for answers, Dan and Andrew take a road trip and meet the men and women who are challenging the way this country distributes its food.
From rooftop farmers to backyard beekeepers, Americans are growing food like never before. Growing Cities tells the inspiring stories of these intrepid urban farmers, activists, and everyday city-dwellers who are challenging the way this country feeds itself. From those growing nutritious food in backyards to make ends meet to educators teaching kids to eat healthier, viewers find that urban farming is about much more than simply good food.
11. Permaculture: A Quiet Revolution
A FILM BY 21ST PARADIGM
Journey through Brazil with the world’s leading experts in Permaculture. The 8th International Permaculture Convergence was held in Brazil, bringing together visionary activists from 43 countries with the common goal of preparing for, and mitigating, our looming global crisis. Their strategy: Self-reliance and sustainability through permaculture.
This documentary offers practical steps on how to apply permaculture to our lives. It invites viewers into a permaculture community that spans the globe. Most importantly, it gives the critical inspiration needed to turn our backs on the corporations and politicians that are failing us and to create a sustainable future of our own making.
You can watch this film on Vimeo.
12. Regreening the Desert
A FILM BY JOHN D. LIU
This film documents large-scale ecosystem restoration projects in China, Africa, South America, and the Middle East, highlighting the enormous benefits to people and planet of undertaking these efforts globally. Geoff Lawton talks about permaculture and the projects he has developed in Jordan.
A truly uplifting story showing how humanity can repair damaged ecosystems worldwide by systematically applying permaculture design principles and techniques to restore these systems even with limited water sources. Ecosystem repair will likely be the great story of the coming decades.
Find this film on their website at https://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/green-gold-documentary-by-john-d-liu/ or watch it on YouTube.
A FILM BY DAMON GAMEAU
2040 is a hybrid feature documentary that looks to the future, but is vitally important NOW!
The 2040 journey began with award-winning director Damon Gameau. Motivated by concerns about the planet his 4-year-old daughter would inherit, Damon embarked on a global journey to meet innovators and changemakers in the areas of economics, technology, civil society, agriculture, education, and sustainability. Drawing on their expertise, he sought to identify the best solutions, available to us now, that would help improve the health of our planet and the societies that operate within it. From marine permaculture to decentralized renewable energy projects, he discovered that people all over the world are taking matters into their own hands.
This journey is the central premise for the documentary ‘2040’, a story of hope that looks at the very real possibility that humanity could reverse many of the possible issues of the future and improve the lives of every living thing in the process. It is a positive vision of what ‘could be’, instead of the dystopian future we are so often presented.
You can watch this film on their website at https://whatsyour2040.com/see-the-film/
14. Back To Eden
A FILM BY DANA RICHARDSON AND SARAH ZENTZ
BACK TO EDEN is a documentary about American gardener and arborist Paul Gautschi that ignited the global gardening movement “Back to Eden Gardening.” Paul pioneered a no-dig gardening method that implements wood chips to conserve water and regenerate the soil. Back to Eden Gardening is a regenerative agriculture technique that implements organic gardening principles and is considered one of the best sustainable permaculture methods for growing food.
This film can show you how to grow an organic vegetable garden in one of the best and easiest ways! Grow fruits and veggies with less labor, less watering, fewer weeds, and an extremely abundant harvest.
15. Homegrown Revolution
A FILM BY JULES DERVAES
Many of these other films are one to two hours long but if you only have 15 minutes to spare then this short documentary will be a great use of your time. I’m not exaggerating when I say that in 2012 this film changed my life by showing me the possibilities of growing a lot of food on a small piece of land.
For over twenty years, the Dervaes family have transformed their home into an Urban Homestead project. They harvest nearly 3 tons of organic food from their 1/10 acre garden while incorporating many back-to-basics practices, as well as solar energy and biodiesel.
You can watch this short Award Winning Film on YouTube.
I hope you enjoy these few Permaculture and Homesteading documentary films. Although there are many more great videos out there, I believe these 15 films will go a long way in inspiring, motivating, and educating you so that you can play your part in making the world a better place.
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