The farms in this image series look more like wild fields than food growing operations. This is a big part of why these farms are such a powerful solution for a host of ecological issues, including climate change, soil loss, resource depletion, pollution, and the general health of our entire ecosystem.

Medium: photography
Location: Japan, Korea, United States
Years: 2012 – 2017

Kristyn Leach on her natural farm | San Francisco, USA
Kristyn Leach on her natural farm | San Francisco, USA

These “natural farmers” use principles that the UN calls agroecology. For five years, my partner and I traveled through Japan, Korea, and California to meet and learn from them. In fact, we still maintain good friendships with many of them, continuing to visit often. These images were shot during the filming the documentary Final Straw: Food, Earth, Happiness, where we met hundreds of farmers who are regenerating the heath of farms, forests, and waterways. Their methods are based on cultivating relationships between farmer, consumer, and environment, resulting in biodiverse and resilient ecosystems not just on the farm, but throughout the wider social and natural ecosystems that interact with these farms. As you can imagine, this way of approaching food is nearly the polar opposite of how our society approaches it today. Anyone looking honestly at the state of our health and environmental wellness however, can see that this obviously needs to change.

Merging science and tradition, these farms are providing solutions by engaging multiple generations of urban dwellers to build truly resilient food ecosystems that also help draw down carbon near cities. These food systems are low-cost, requiring no investment in chemicals or heavy machinery, yet in an ironic twist, they are often far more productive than neighboring industrial farms. Engaging in this style of farming helps teach us how to integrate human needs with the needs of the biosphere, and how to build food systems that can withstand severe climactic shifts in weather over the long-term.

Related projects: Final Straw / Human:Nature / Harvest

Selected Images


Images from this series have been exhibited in:

  • Forest is the ArtistPlaceMAK Gallery, Seoul, South Korea
  • Food, Art, NatureTENT Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Human+City+NatureSpace Noah, Seoul, South Korea
  • Tool, Mind, Earth, Robert Callender International Residency, Kinghorn, Scotland
  • Real Time Food, Oni Gallery, Megijima, Japan
  • [Human:Nature], Megi House, Setouchi Triennale, Megijima, Japan


Images from this series have been published in:

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