27 September 2023


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Film: Rachel’s Farm

Director: Rachel Ward, Madman Entertainment

Rachel’s Farm is about the environmental threats we face, but it’s also the story of one woman’s resolve to tackle them head-on, intent on making a difference.

Acclaimed actor and director Rachel Ward’s uplifting documentary is a hugely valuable adventure saturated with the actor’s unquenchable inquisitiveness and steadfast rejection to admit defeat, whatever the consequences.

Regenerative farming has been an uppermost passion for Ward since the Black Summer bushfires of 2019. The fires were the worst ever experienced in the Nambucca Valley, where Ward, with her actor-husband Bryan Brown and their family have had a small farm for more than 30 years. Their house was saved, but many of their neighbours were not as lucky and surrounding forests were consumed, along with their fencing.

These losses thrust Ward into a state of complete frustration. The effects of global warming became an obsession with fears for the future. For many years, the Nambucca Valley property was a family retreat, conventionally farmed by Rachel’s neighbour Mick. However, the near-miss – and a first grandchild – sets Rachel thinking hard about the future.

She points out: “The more joy I felt [about the birth], the more I was swallowed by despair.”

Mick encourages Rachel to challenge established farming practices, and take on a new approach which starts from the soil up. It’s all hands-on and it’s not easy, but she’s resolute and her delight at finding resolutions is tangible.

In the documentary, Brown speaks of her strength of will with a mixture of fond admiration and wry amusement – sentiments echoed by their daughter Matilda. She says when her mother embraces a new passion, she gives it her all, there are no compromises.

Rachel’s Farm is for anyone who cares about how their food is produced, how degraded our soils have become and the changing role of women on farms.

  • Rachel’s Farm is on streaming on digital platforms

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