THE GARDEN SUMMER: The Real World in Arkansas?

After reading a short description of indie documentary THE GARDEN SUMMER – five young suburbanites move to a farm to live sustainably off of the land – you may well jump to the characterization of “The Real World Goes to Arkansas,” or “The Simple Life Sans Celebs.” It certainly sounds like a set up for your typical youth-focused reality series, doesn’t it?

Maybe – CNN’s Eatocracy thought that, also – but creator Hailey Wist had something much more substantial in mind when she invited Seth Amos, Marie Barker, Ben Williams and Emilee Cleary to join her on her family farm in the Ozarks for a significant portion of the Summer of 2010. While drinking and romance weren’t necessarily off of the agenda, their focus was genuine simple living: growing their own garden, selling the produce at the local farmer’s market, producing zero waste, and eating within a 100-mile radius. Not exactly the stuff of typical MTV reality fare. Sure, there was drama, but it centered on things like division of labor in the garden rather than who hooked with someone that their best friend really liked.

So, how they’d do? Not bad, according to their own assessment: simple living isn’t always so simple – it can be downright hard, in fact – but, overall, they did what they set out to do, including having some fun along the way.

This unconventional documentary is also taking an unusual route to the theaters: so far, it’s played in Charleston, SC (Wist’s hometown) and Conway, AR, with dates for San Diego and DC coming soon (so we’re told). I hope Wist is looking into taking it on the festival circuit – seems like a natural there.

I know the odds are long here, but if you are one of the few who’s had a chance to see THE GARDEN SUMMER, let us know what you thought.


Image credit: Screen capture from THE GARDEN SUMMER Sneaky Peak