Branded as “a real-life Charlotte’s Web,” Apricot Lane Farms welcomes viewers back in The Biggest Little Farm: The Return. The half-hour special may be a follow-up to the award-winning 2018 independent documentary film about John and Molly Chester’s sustainable experiment, but prior knowledge of the film is not a prerequisite to enjoying this heartwarming special, which showcases how much the farm has grown over the past few years.
For the unfamiliar, filmmaker John Chester and chef Molly Chester traded their L.A. lifestyle to live sustainably with the land in Moorpark, CA. The goal of their Apricot Lane Farms is sustainability, rewilding the land to enrich the soil and producing delicious crops in the process. The original film, The Biggest Little Farm, was a hit at film festivals, a rare family-friendly documentary that also showcases how nature has the ability to heal when we let it. It’s no wonder that the independent film, distributed by NEON, caught the attention of National Geographic, who backed this project for Disney+ along with an upcoming series.
In addition to the human stars, namely John and Molly and their children, the big scene-stealer in the special is Emma, a very productive pig who is starting to wind down. With a philosophy that everything on the farm needs to serve a purpose, John and Emma work to find a way for the aging pig to remain a contributing member of the farm. There’s a place for everyone at Apricot Lane Farms, they just need a job to do, and therein lies the emotional core of the special.
While The Biggest Little Farm: The Return plays like an episode of a TV series and with a similar runtime, the production retains a film-like quality. With John Chester having continued to film the farm’s journey since the original documentary wrapped, his film background never makes the piece feel like it’s edited from home movies. The production quality is top-notch, leading to some gorgeous shots of the picturesque farm anchored by a tour given to visitors last year.
The charm and likeability of John and Molly sets a welcoming tone for this fun look at life at Apricot Lane Farms. But the real takeaway of this Earth Day special is the way they’ve let nature dictate what’s best for their land. You don’t have to be a farmer or even have a backyard to appreciate what they’ve done and be inspired to try and apply their lessons to wherever you live.
The Biggest Little Farm: The Return premieres Friday, April 22nd on Disney+.