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The Real Dirt on Farmer John

  NR Closed Captioning

Taggart Siegel

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Plot Summary

An award-winning true story of third-generation farmer John Peterson's heroic journey of success, tribulation, failure and rebirth. Get up close and personal with John and his forthright colorful life that parallels the marginalization of the 20th Century American family farm and the struggle with pesticides, overuse and urbanization. Educated and unpretentious, Peterson is a true original, and a target for those with narrower views. What makes this documentary so appealing is his maverick streak-- exemplifying the heart and soul we all feel towards preserving the Earth... and ourselves in the process. Peterson's lifelong love affair with his family's farm in Caledonia, Illinois - population unknown- located about 75 miles west of Chicago and not even on the AAA map- is an engaging and effective seat from which to view the wider goings on of the era. The film simultaneously speaks to many ethical and cultural divides as it chronicles the shift in America's agriculture. Home movies showing actual auctions as many American farmers lost their livelihood to real estate developers are a meaningful addition. Both the personal and wider issues are entirely accessible in this fun and informative, rich and life-affirming film directed by Taggart Siegel.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 41
  • Fresh: 36
  • Rotten: 5
  • Average Rating: 7.4/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: 'What do you do when nothing is left?' is the question that drives The Real Dirt on Farmer John. – Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times, Jul 16, 2008

Fresh: The Real Dirt on Farmer John turns into a portrait of how American family farming could blossom for a new century. – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly, Jul 7, 2010

Fresh: The Real Dirt on Farmer John examines 50-odd years in the life of its eponymous subject -- a most compelling character -- and in doing so literally provides the viewer with food for thought. – Scott Foundas, Variety, Jul 7, 2010

Fresh: ... outstanding documentary ... – Kevin Crust, Los Angeles Times, Sep 20, 2007

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

This documentary is AMAZING!

I can’t believe there is not a review for this yet!! If you love local farming, organic foods, and sustainable living then you need to watch this! I laughed, I cried, I rejoiced… its an empowering documentary that is worth sharing with others.

The Real Dirt on Farmer John
View In iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Released: 2006

Customer Ratings