Donald Vetter grew up in Nebraska, farming 800 acres with horses. It was hard work. So when he came back from WWII and learned about the new agricultural uses for wartime chemicals, Don enthusiastically joined the Chemical Age.
He owned one of the first pesticide sprayers in his county.
After a few seasons, though, he found the new inputs not only didn’t deliver what was promised, they were damaging his soil and killing the wildlife on his farm. This really bothered Don. So, one day in 1953, he quit spraying.
From then on, the Vetter farm’s most important “crop” was its soil.
Dreaming of a Vetter World comes at a time when interest in regenerating soil has exploded worldwide. Others are realizing what the Vetters have known for decades: soil is key to our very survival.
In this compelling feature-length documentary, audiences meet three generations of Vetters and learn of the struggles they have faced as small-scale organic farmers in an era of “BIG AG” industrial agriculture. Informative without being jargony, the film features the self-sustaining, self-renewing farm-management system Donald and his son, David Vetter, created. Their experiment continues to this day, as the Vetters try to stay one step ahead of changing weather patterns, market fluctuations and the ever-increasing pesticide use around them.
Dreaming of a Vetter World includes interviews with other organic leaders, local farmers and scientists and highlights some neglected and misunderstood aspects of organic farming: the hidden costs of biotech contamination, the constant struggle to produce a clean crop while surrounded by chemical agriculture, and what it actually takes to get that bag of organic popcorn from the field to the market.
Mixing on-camera interviews with beautiful cinematography, gorgeous timelapses and an evocative soundtrack, first-time filmmaker Bonnie Hawthorne tells the story of the Vetter family and their decades-long experiment with sustainable agriculture. With Midwestern wisdom and a healthy dose of humor, it is also a story about love, hope, and place: an inspiring example of perseverance and doing what you think is right, against all odds.
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This film was supported in part by grants from Dr. Bronner’s and Patagonia with additional support from MegaFood.