“For 6,000 years, the original Danish Red Dairy cattle was the dominant cattle breed in Denmark. Now there are only 200 cows left of this race.”
In an age of growing awareness of the sustainable farming methods, director Phie Ambo’s up-close look at humane agronomy is both inspiring and thought provoking.
The film’s message is told through the story of Niels Stokholm, an 80-year-old farmer from Denmark who, with his wife Rita, mans Thorshøjgaard, a biodynamic farm that supplies dairy, meat and cheeses to some of the best restaurants in the world, including NOMA and Restaurant Julian.
Ambo doesn’t spend a stitch of time explaining the notion of biodynamics, a method of farming developed by Rudolf Steiner which strives to create a diversified, balanced farm ecosystem through the restoration and harmonization of nature. Instead, the story is told through observation of holistic farming methods, such as the annual preparation of fertilizer through the burial (and subsequent decomposition and fermentation) of manure-filled cattle horns, buried at the start of the cool season and retrieved before spring planting.
But, despite its naturalistic underpinnings, utopian the story is not. In fact, throughout the film, Stockholm’s farming philosophies are challenged time and time again, forcing the audience to share in the struggles of a farmer torn between closely held values and the demands of governmental bureaucracy, which threaten to dismantle his way of life.