http://www.backtoedenfilm.com/#movie Back to Eden Film
America is mesmerized by this film. Horticultural commentary and criticism of the “Back to Eden” wood mulch gardening film
A critique of the film. http://talkrational.org/showthread.php?t=50037 This was the source now he link is broken.
The first two minutes of the movie is just exposition to establish the narrative. There’s a a bit about God, then Paul Gautschi talks about his experience growing up in a farm outside Los Angeles, ultimately moving to Washington because “Los Angeles is no longer a place fit for human habitation.”
2 minutes, he talks about building a home in Washington and drilling a well that yields 720 gallons/day. He promptly declares, “that’s not enough to have a garden,” thereby giving me a math aneurysm.
Followed by some godtalk.
4 minutes Paul explains how God revealed to him the secret of wood-chip composting.
Followed by gospel singing and a montage of produce, much of which has been irrigated or rained on recently.
7 minutes, a story about the Garden of Eden. God is apparently a bit of a narcissist. The lesson of the story is that man only started tilling the earth after getting kicked out of the Garden and losing his connection with God; therefore you shouldn’t till.
About 9 minutes, a discussion of topsoil loss. Then Paul talks about his garden. 11 minutes talks about where to get wood chips. Paul apparently requires a pretty massive amount of wood mulch. 13 minutes, more nonsense, this time Godtalk about pruning trees. He gives no advice on correct pruning.
14-16 minutes, we get to see where some of Paul’s woodchips actually come from. A nearby arborist mulches them with a backhoe and a tub grinder.
18 minutes, Paul mentions sustainable permaculture. He then goes on to complain about “issues” with “the man approach,” which he lists as “tilling, constantly giving back […] soil preparation, irrigation, fertilization, weed control, pest issues, crop rotation, pH issues,” followed by saying “none of those issues exist in nature.” He then immediately begins discussing his soil preparation method, because Paul really likes saying one thing and then contradicting himself within the span of two minutes.
Paul’s soil prep method is to lay wood chips down on top of leveled, compacted, rocky soil. He’s been doing this for years, adding more soil each time, so by now he has a fairly significant layer of humus developed.
24 minutes, a technically incorrect description of anaerobic soil ecology.
26 minutes, “I am putting nothing back,” Paul says as he adds several thousand pounds of woodchips to his garden. Then Godtalk. Apparently compost illustrates Phillipians 4:19, since woodchip compost is everlasting fertilizer.
29 minutes, a complaint that NPK fertilizer doesn’t have minerals (no **** but wellwater does). Then someone complains that NPK fertilizer doesn’t contain “calcium, magnesium, potassium, iodine… the things that aren’t fertilized regularly.”
More complaints about fertilizers, then more Godtalk.
32 minutes features a relatively charming old man who is excited about horse manure decomposed with sawdust.
35 minutes discusses integrated farming with chickens.
38 minutes, Paul brags that his soil is optimal in terms of pH, nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium content. He then starts to discuss irrigation – apparently he relies mostly on rainfall, the water-retention of wood chips and organic soil, and occasionally a sprinkler to germinate seeds (he seems to sow everything directly in ground).
42 minutes, Paul describes having a pond (vernal pool?) on his property. He then segues into a discussion of subirrigation and pre-Flud hydrology. He calls subirrigation the “ideal” watering method, complains that top-watering is never as good as subirrigation (he gives no particular reason for this), and then says rainwater is better than groundwater.
43 minutes, Paul can’t wrap his head around the concept of water retention. He literally says, “Here’s the incredible thing about God and his design. When there’s too much water it (wood chips) retains it, and when there’s not enough it releases it. And at that point I have to check out [points to his head]. It’s too much for me.”
45 minutes “75% of the Earth is water, our bodies have 75% water, and what I’m finding in my produce and fruit, it’s 75% water, and I’m seeing a real connection here, a real balance.” Apparently plants grown in “dirt” aren’t 75% water though.
46 minutes a woman eating what looks like a cucumber calls it “fennel.”
47 minutes, a discussion about weeds and weed control, then a discussion about pest control.
52 minutes the GMO menace. at 53 minutes a complete babbling moron tries to explain genetic modification.
55 minutes, Paul and an old woman named Edith claim that mulching greatly reduces pest problems. No explanation or evidence for this is given, and it’s contrary to my experience (I also use wood mulch top covering). Then he complains about crop rotation for some reason.
57 minutes, another discussion of soil pH. Paul claims he can grow blueberries and chard “right next to each other.” This is a little surprising, because blueberries and chard require growing conditions that are usually considered to be about .3-.5 pH units apart, but no decent visual is given and no pH readings are available to back this up. (It would have been very good evidence, and also pretty cool, if they had examined the blueberry and chard root systems, found the soil medium where new roots are growing, and then taken pH readings of that specific medium.)
59 minutes is the only discussion of using the wood mulch method outside of Washington. It’s followed by another partial demonstration of the actual growing technique. (For some reason the whole video never actually includes a proper, complete demonstration of a planting, but has many partial demonstrations spread throughout.)
1:03, another partial demonstration of a planting, this time at a church. At 1:10 the pastor and his wife admit to using 34 pounds of fertilizer (dried blood, specifically). At 1:11 the pastor demonstrates he doesn’t understand how roots work.
A long section with children working in a garden, really stressing the happy religious and family stuff.
1:19 God really likes laziness. This is a persistent theme of the movie.
1:20 apparently wild animals never starve to death. This is followed with more gospel music and a montage of a little girl picking large produce.
1:22 some babble about enzymes and supermarket produce.
1:23 something about the color of produce which contradicts what Paul claimed about supermarket produce less than two minutes prior. More nutribabble.
1:24:20 “I haven’t been formally educated” and then Paul says he can’t point to any specific nutritional differences between his produce and supermarket produce.
1:27 is a discussion of the superior nutritional content of food from Paul, who a few minutes ago admitted he didn’t know about food nutrition and couldn’t assess food quality.
1:30 is kind of awesome. After that is a montage of people talking about Paul’s garden but nothing about agriculture.
1:36 God the narcissist.
1:38 “God, how come I don’t have to peel my potatoes? And it’s just so beautiful, it’s like He took me underground and showed me a potato growing […] hilling potatoes is work.” That’s why Paul doesn’t peel his potatoes.
The themes of the movie:
* God really likes laziness.
* Paul uses a lot of Godtalk to explain things without actually explaining them at all.
* Gardening makes people more “spiritual” and spiritual people are better at gardening. (Presumably atheists are bad at it?)
* Paul is really confused about conservation of matter.
* Paul contradicts himself a lot.
* Paul doesn’t know the words “intensive” and “extensive” but he really dislikes intensive agriculture.
* Paul is really bad at managing water use, which is why he has to let God do it for him.
* Even though he gives a lot of lip to God, Paul still manages to take a lot of credit for an agricultural technique that has been around for at least a couple hundred years.