I refuse to have cable or satellite television service. That’s because I loathe television. I almost never watch it any more. But I like to watch an occasional movie or documentary using the VCR. And, as I’ve mentioned here in the past, my family enjoys watching Little House on The Prairie and The Waltons DVDs (of which I believe "Little House" is a far more edifying program).
And so, a few weeks ago, I bought a documentary movie titled A Journey Home from Franklin Springs Media. I bought the movie because a couple of people mentioned to me that I should see it. Well, now that I have, I’d like to tell you about it...
A Journey Home is about Tommy and Sherri Waller and their eleven children (seven boys and four girls). Years ago, right out of college, Tommy got a job working for Federal Express. He was a manager, putting in 80 hours a week. It was a great job and a great career. But Tommy made a decision to walk away from the job, the career, and the typical suburban lifestyle.
The Waller family moved to Russell Creek, a secluded area in rural Tennessee where most of their neighbors were Amish and Mennonite. The Wallers lived without electricity and became organic farmers.
Why would a man with a successful modern career and all the conveniences of modern life walk away from it and take his family to a backwoods place like Russell Creek? Well, according to the movie, Tommy Waller went home to unite his family. And the Wallers moved away from the influences of mainstream society in order to be a closer family. What, you may wonder, was the fundamental motivation to do such a radical thing? They were motivated by their Christian beliefs.
The movie presents a visual montage of scenes from the Waller family’s life on the farm at Russell Creek. Milking the cow, homeschooling, cooking meals, preserving food, plowing with horses, planting, splitting firewood, the children playing in the woods and in the pond, the family worshiping and making music together. The images of rural life and family closeness are delightful and powerfully endearing. Indeed, they are beautiful! And they are compelling.
The movie also tells the story of the Waller family selling their produce and home-baked goods on Thursday afternoons at a farmer’s market in Leiper’s Fork, TN. The entire family works at the farm market and, in so doing, makes an impact on the people of that community. This weekly event of selling at the farmer’s market is presented as another positive aspect of the Christian-agrarian lifestyle they have chosen to pursue.
The end of the movie is a a real surprise because it is such a contrast. After six years of seclusion and the simple life at Russell Creek, the Wallers pull up stakes and head to Israel. We see them at the airport, in cities, using cell phones and computers to communicate with people back home. They went to Israel (and are still there today) to live and work with Jewish settlers on the West Bank. They are planting, tending, and harvesting crops. They are Christian-agrarian missionaries.
I have watched the movie five or six times and I’ll watch it a couple more. I like it very much. The DVD also has some bonus features like the ability to watch the whole movie while listening to a running commentary from the producer, Ken Carpenter. The commentary provides a lot of interesting insights about the Wallers and how the movie came to be made.
There is, however, one huge question in my mind after watching the movie. How, I wonder, could this family do what they did and make ends meet? I wonder that about a lot of folks who are turning their backs on modern life in order to live a full time, family-focused, home-based agrarian lifestyle. Money is still needed. Where does it come from?
At one point in the movie, Sherri Waller comments that you really can sell enough produce to live off the land. This is amazing to me. Pictures of the Waller’s farm show a relatively small planting. And we are led to believe that the primary means of marketing their products (of making ends meet) is through the Thursday afternoon farm market.
My wife sells bread at a farmer’s market on Thursday afternoons. We know people who sell produce. You can certainly make money at such an enterprise. But making enough for a family of 13 to live on at a single market is difficult for me to feature. They still have to pay property taxes, and auto insurance on their van. Do they have health insurance? The costs of living, even living simply, can add up pretty fast. Surely, there must be some other source of income.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not being critical. Tommy and Sherri Waller are remarkable and inspiring people. What they have done is exemplary. The movie is absolutely wonderful. I just can’t help being curious about the nuts and bolts of how they did what they did and were able to make ends meet.
Click on this link to order the movie: A Journey Home
Inherit The Land
On a different but related note, I see that Franklin Springs Media intends to release another documentary called Inherit The Land sometime this year. According to their web site, "Inherit The Land examines the rewards and the growing movement toward agrarian lifestyles and the benefits that families can gain from farming endeavors, large and small."
That is exaclty what I have endeavored to blog about here for almost two years now. So I think that sounds like an excellent movie and I can’t wait to see it!
Another Internet "Film Share"
Last year I blogged here about a DVD documentary called The Future of Food. I liked the film so much, and felt that its message was so important, that I decided to send my copy to any other blogger with an interest.
The concept was that other bloggers could watch the movie and write about it (thus spreading the good word), then send the movie on to the next person on the list. The idea has worked moderately well. Several bloggers have written about the movie. The only problem is that it has not made the rounds as quickly as I had hoped it would. I (the last person on the list) should have gotten the movie back months ago and it’s still out there, but that is not a major problem. I believe it will still make its way back to me... someday.
I’d like to do a similar "film-share" with my copy of A Journey Home. If you are a blogger and would like to see this movie, simply send me your e-mail, your blog name, and your postal mailing address (my e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org).
I will compile a list of not more than a dozen people and send it to the first person on the list. You can take a week or, at most, two to watch the movie and then send it to the next person on the list.
All I ask is that you mention it on your blog with a link to Franklin Springs Media. You needn’t do an extensive review unless you want to. A simple mention and endorsement (only if you like the movie, of course) on your blog will fulfill your end of our film-share “agreement.” If you want to get on the list, e-mail me by April 12. I’ll announce the reviewers here, and send the movie out.
Other Agrarian Documentaries
Do you know of other out-of-the-mainstream documentaries that would be of interest to the Christian agrarian community? If so, please let me know about them and I will endeavor to review them here.
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