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Evolution of Organic
The Story of the Organic Movement

The story of organic agriculture, told by those in California who built the movement.

A printer-friendly version of this page 86 minutes
SDH Captioned>>

Directed by Mark Kitchell
Writer: Mark Kitchell
Editor: Robert Dalva, ACE
Director of Photography: Vicente Franco
Music: Gary Malkin, Dan Alvarez
Animation & Graphics: Nick Stern
Narrator: Frances McDormand

"Superb documentary...We learn that a critical lens on the major social and environmental developments of the late twentieth century." Liz Carlisle, Environmental Sciences, Stanford Univ.
[Note: Community screenings of Evolution of Organic can be booked at Bullfrog Communities. Note: To inquire about inviting the filmmaker, Mark Kitchell, to take part in your screening in person or via Skype, please contact mark [at] evolutionoforganic [dot] com.]

Mark Kitchell follows up A FIERCE GREEN FIRE with EVOLUTION OF ORGANIC, which brings us the story of organic agriculture, told by those who built the movement. A motley crew of back-to-the-landers, spiritual seekers and farmers' sons and daughters rejected modern chemical farming and set out to invent organic alternatives. The movement grew from a small band of rebels to a cultural transformation in the way we grow and eat food. By now organic has mainstreamed, become both an industry oriented toward bringing organic to all people, and a movement that has realized a vision of sustainable agriculture.

This is not just a history, but looks forward to exciting and important futures: the next generation who are broadening organic; what lies "beyond organic"; and carbon farming and sequestration as a solution to climate change -- maybe the best news on the planet.

The film is divided into four "acts".

Act I: Origins - Looks at the beginning of the organic movement in California when the 60s counter-culture moved back to the land.

Act 2: Building Organic - Follows the development of increasingly effective organic farming techniques concentrating on the soil and the microbial life within it.

Act 3: Mainstreaming Organic - Organic booms, growing 20% annually for two decades.

Act 4: Organic Futures - The next generation of organic farmers as well as carbon farming and sequestering carbon dioxide hold out great hope for combating climate change.

Grade Level: 10 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2017     Copyright Date: 2017
DVD ISBN: 1-941545-94-7

"Superb documentary...We learn that organic is far more than a set of agricultural methods: it is a critical lens on the major social and environmental developments of the late twentieth century: from climate change to economic restructuring to urbanization. This film is an excellent resource for instructors in both the natural and social sciences looking to shed light on the interface between the social and natural worlds - and a hopeful case of a community of people dedicated to a more sustainable future."
Liz Carlisle, School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences, Stanford University, Author, Lentil Underground: Renegade Farmers and the Future of Food in America

"Even those who agree with the wisdom of organic food production will find much to discuss, from the issues surrounding certification, industrialization, local food production, social justice and the state of organic food production in their areas...The story is well told in Evolution of Organic."
Paul Durrenberger, Acres U.S.A. Magazine

"Highly Recommended...This documentary tells the story of those who decided, despite their anti-establishment roots, that a capitalist system, with its insatiable appetite for natural resources and environmental destruction, could be turned into something more environmentally sustainable and humane...This excellent documentary provides some hope that not all is rotten in the soul of American capitalism."
Andrew Jenks, Educational Media Reviews Online

"Highly accessible and inviting...Inclusive and balanced...The film concludes with an excellent discussion of current trends, especially the ways organic farms are advancing climate solutions by retaining more carbon in the soil. Students, natural food enthusiasts, new and old farmers, and the general public will all have much to learn from this engaging and compelling journey through the history of organic food and farms."
Brian Tokar, Director of the Institute for Social Ecology, Lecturer of Environmental Studies, University of Vermont, Author, Toward Climate Justice: Perspectives on the Climate Crisis and Social Change

"Expansive...Upbeat....A reminder of the history and importance of organic agriculture."
Candace Smith, Booklist

"Evolution of Organic hits all the right marks as a great follow up to A Fierce Green Fire! The film is a great resource to spark discussions on the history, identity, corporate explosion, tension over regulations, issues of labor and justice, and economics of the movement and the industry. Most importantly, Evolution of Organic highlights hopeful possibilities with a look to the future."
Paul Stock, Assistant Professor, Sociology and the Environmental Studies, University of Kansas

"The hidden history in which agriculture met the counterculture...Sure to appeal to health-conscious foodies, this is recommended."
C. Cassady, Video Librarian

"The history of the organic movement is as important to the integrity of organic foods as the history of the United States is to the integrity of our democracy. The Evolution of Organic will be enlightening for many organic activists and consumers, but it should be required viewing for all organic rule-makers, certifiers, distributors, and producers of organic foods."
John Ikerd, Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics, University of Missouri, Author, Small Farms are Real Farms, and Crisis and Opportunity: Sustainability in American Agriculture

"Through careful, thought-provoking interviews, Evolution of Organic provides fascinating insight into the experiences and motivations of some of the pioneers of organic agriculture...The film's final chapter, which explores the current generation of young organic entrepreneurs and advocates, is particularly eye-opening."
Michael Haedicke, Professor of Sociology, Drake University, Author, Organizing Organic: Conflict and Compromise in an Emerging Market

"Evolution of Organic provides a great introduction to the history of the organic movement. It addresses many of the controversies that surround the ongoing effort to create a just and sustainable food and agriculture system."
Dr. Brian Obach, Professor of Sociology, Director of Environmental Studies, SUNY- New Paltz, Author, Organic Struggle: The Movement for Sustainable Agriculture in the United States

"Excellent interviews...A highly professional encapsulation of the organic movement."
Marvin K. Harris, Science Books and Films

"Evolution of Organic helps us understand how the current organic food system came to be, and urges the next generation to think of that system not solely as a source of nourishment, but as a pathway toward soil regeneration, social justice and entrepreneurial opportunity. In the classroom and the community center, this film will stimulate dialogue about the current state and the future one of most important developments in food production."
Gary S. Kleppel, Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences, University at Albany-SUNY, Owner/Operator, Longfield Farm

"Provides a set of vignettes from the movement's present-day frontiers. These range from people working to recruit the next generation of organic growers as the old guard retires, to acolytes of integrated fish farming, to the pioneer of organic cotton in eco-fashion. Several of the vignettes highlight initiatives that focus on immigrant growers, multicultural communities, and issues of food access and food justice...A compelling narrative."
Andrew Case, Purdue University, Environmental History Journal

"Many of us buy and consume organic food every day, but few of us know its history...This documentary will make you nostalgic for a time a time when organic was still a revolutionary idea."
Krista Holobar, Civil Eats

"Uplifting and entertaining...Kitchell sees great hope in carbon farming through organic agriculture and regenerative grazing."
Deborah Luhrman, Edible Monterey Bay

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DVDs include public performance rights.

DVD Features
DVD includes SDH Captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, and scene selection.

Host a community screening
The Film's Website

Awards and Festivals
Vancouver International Film Festival
San Francisco Green Film Festival
Bioneers Film Festival
Carmel Film Festival
G2 Green Film Festival
Salt Spring Island Film Festival
Friday Harbor Film Festival
Princeton Environmental Film Fest
One Earth Film Festival

American Studies
Business Practices
Climate Change/Global Warming
Environmental Ethics
Food And Nutrition
Sustainable Agriculture
Western US

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... more Reviews

"The documentary captures in real time the insights of the 'rebellious pioneers' who refused chemical farming after World War II, and initiated alternatives for conventional subsistence that would change their professions, their interactions and their lives."
Haley Nagasaki, The New Agora Newspaper

"An interesting history with a positive outlook on the future, this production will be a valuable resource for educators and viewers interested in sustainability and organic gardening."
Philip Oliver, Library Journal

"Comprehensive...Extensive explanations of the importance of soil building, compost, beneficial insects, and carbon dioxide capture...A thorough exploration of the beginnings of the organic farm movement as well as its current manifestation. Useful for advanced environmental science classes."
Eva Elisabeth VonAnsken, School Library Journal

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