The Award of Ministry of Agriculture goes to Polyfaces made by Lisa Heenan. We’ve asked her, why she decided to commute with her family between their home in Australia and a remote farm in Virginia, USA in order to film a documentary on some sort of lunatic farmer.

Joel Salatin and his farm attract people like a magnet. How did it happen that the magnet drew you and your family all the way from Australia and what exactly did you look for at Polyface Farm?

We have been in the regenerative agriculture arena for over 20 years, working with local producers, communities and government organisations, supporting them in regenerating their landscapes, local economies, communities, their health and most importantly their soils. We had been running workshops in the US since 2007 and asked Joel would he come and teach a workshop with us. We had been following his work for many years. That was 2009 and we have continued to work with him running workshops around our Global Village, inspiring people to farm in more regenerative ways. My husband is a world renowned whole farm designer and so we knew what we had to capture to make this documentary informative as well as inspiring.


Did you find it there?

We found what we had planned to film and so much more! Richard’s story is a very powerful one but when we first got to Polyface we had no idea what his story was.


The Salatin family have farming in their blood – they’ve been farming for four generations. In the film all their activities look really easy, but at the same time perfectly well thought-out. Do you think their methods are transferable, or is it necessary to know and learn complicated stuff?

We know it is replicable as we have run workshops with Joel, Daniel and Sheri and see what our clients are doing. People are inspired by them and some may only do chickens, or chickens and a dairy herd. Or just pigs. However people are inspired to ahve a go!


The film aside, your family has been active in agricultural consultation for over 20 years. Do you think that during that time alternative farming methods have become a new mainstream, or is it still a domain of “lunatic farmers” as Salatin likes to call himself? 

More and more it is becoming mainstream as the cost’s of get chemicals higher, as people get sicker, farmers are looking for ways to farm that can heal the land and consumers.


Find more information about this movie in this article.

Lisa Heenan & Darren J. Doherty

– producer and co-director of Polyfaces
– their platform Regrarians serves as an educational base for regenerative farming
– as part of the Global Village platform they organise workhops on permacultural approaches, with Joel Salatin among others

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