Fifteen minutes listening to good ol’ boy Will Harris in “One Hundred Thousand Beating Hearts” is a fresh kick in the pants. Will drawls, “My daddy talked more like Foghorn Leghorn than I do.” (Google it.) Working the farm started by his great granddaddy, Will says no one in his daddy’s time said, “Let’s suck up all the money out of this town and let it dry up and blow away.” Big agribusiness dried up farming towns like Bluffton, Georgia.
Well, daddy made money every year with chemicals sold to him. Will made money just thinking “how many pounds of beef I could squeeze out of this place at the lowest price.” Will Harris is an animal farmer: cattle historically, but sheep, chickens, hogs, and such, too.
Will did more than switch to grass-fed beef. He stopped using sub-therapeutic antibiotics, hormone implants, and chemical fertilizers and pesticides. He started knowing words like symbiosis and quoting John Muir. He stopped feeding livestock and started feeding the microbes that made the ground rich and the local economy livable.
Smart 21st century farm practice is a critical 21st century topic. Though it’s one of the more common themes in environmental films, we need to hear the message again and again until we have tons of new farmers who can make a living, make a way of life growing our food sustainably.
You’ve gotta listen to Will. Even if you don’t listen, you just gotta hear him talk.