Review: “The Biggest Little Farm”

Sibel Lorentz, Chief Editor





“The Biggest Little Farm,” starring Molly Chester and Stephen Decatur alumni John Chester, was screened at the third annual Ocean City Film Festival on March 9. The award-winning documentary has been showcased at several film festivals, including the Sundance Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, and Berlin International Film Festival. The creation of this motion-picture was in collaboration with another Decatur graduate, Erica Messer, who is also the executive producer for the television series, Criminal Minds.  

The documentary began with an overview of the California wildfires that spread in 2011, and the push for survival the farming community endured. The film then shifted back to 2010, with John Chester, and his wife Molly Chester, rescuing a dog named Todd. After receiving an eviction notice from their Los Angeles apartment due to Todd’s excessive barking, the Chesters decided to make the best of their unfortunate situation and build a new life on a farm. With the support of their family and friends, they moved to Moorpark, California, and purchased Apricot Lane Farms. This is where their genuine story truly began.  

After restarting on a 214-acre farm, the Chesters discovered that the soil beneath their feet was dead, and their first of many battles had just begun. They reached out to experts to try and find someone who was willing to aid them in their new journey. After taking to the internet for help, Alan York, a soil, plant, and biodynamic consultant responded to Molly Chester and began to mentor the new farmers. The mission York set out for was to create an ecosystem where animals and nature could coexist in harmony. With the support of York, Apricot Lane Farms was able to flourish and persevere through a record drought.  

Although there were many bleak encounters during the production of this documentary, the Apricot Lane Farms community was able to conquer all odds and bring their vision to life. With the strength showcased by the animals on the farm and the solace of surrounding farmers, no task was too daunting for the Chesters. Todd was also a large inspiration for the farm as everything began with a promise made to him.   

Viewers at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center described the film as breathtaking, inspiring, comical, powerful, and even tender. During the appearance of “The Biggest Little Farm,” audience members wept, laughed, grieved, cheered, and sat silent. Children throughout the auditorium were heard rooting for the animals in danger, and the screening was followed with praise and a standing ovation.  

“Coming home to show the film to my friends and family was by far one of the greatest events to come out of this experience thus far. It meant even more to me to know that there were teachers and students from Stephen Decatur High School there watching the work that Erica Messer and I had done. The one thing I didn’t expect was for over 1200 people to show up. That part is still hard for both Erica and I to believe, John Chester stated.  

The documentary is set to be released to theaters on May 10. Readers can visit to learn more about the faces behind Apricot Lane Farms and the story of “The Biggest Little Farm.”