The Real Dirt on Farmer John | Chicago Reader

The Real Dirt on Farmer John

“Farmer John” is John Peterson, an eccentric farmer in northern Illinois who's devoted his life to preserving both his family farm near the Wisconsin border and his 60s ideals. After his father's death, Peterson ran the business while commuting to Beloit College and falling in with a clique of hippies who adopted the farm as their retreat. During the Reagan years, as family farms collapsed across the country, Peterson lost most of his land, but eventually the business was reborn as a subscriber-supported organic farm that drew Chicagoans to work the fields and divide the crops. Directed by Taggart Siegel and narrated by Peterson, this 2005 video memoir is a beguiling combination of agrarian ode and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, deepened by Peterson's square sincerity as he struggles to find himself in relation to his family's land. 83 min.

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