The first man steps out of the car wearing dark sunglasses and a slicked-back hairstyle. Next a woman’s red power pump followed by a long curvy calf and lower thigh lingers outside the back door of the Landrover. Katou watches the woman with suspicion as her father attempts to conceal his obvious interest. “They sent a black window to negotiate,” she thinks to herself.
Ms. Sawyer, as she so introduces herself, is a ruthless corporate lawyer whose only contact with Earth is the dirt she digs up on her acquisition targets to use as “leverage” for the purchase. She will be hard-pressed however to find anything incriminating on Gilbert or his father. Perhaps she conceals a new tactical maneuver inside that candy-apple red briefcase of hers?
Gilbert invites the curious pair into the kitchen but the man chooses to sit on a bench in the hallway instead. Katou positions Fifi directly across from him and tells her to stay, then joins her father in the kitchen. The questionable stranger won’t be able to sneak around the house while Fifi is on guard. The plan for Pierre the ferret, however, is much more covert.
Katou distracts the corporate spy in the red shoes with a freshly brewed cup of organic fair trade Sumatran coffee while she carefully lowers her open satchel to the ground near Ms. Sawyer’s briefcase. She listens in on the adult conversation as the woman explains the benefits of a merger with the corporation she represents: access to the latest irrigation technology, the most effective “yield enhancers”, a distribution channel, crop insurance, a guaranteed minimum income, free training or even free workers, and financial incentives and bonuses as part of their shared profit plan.
“The contract lays everything out simply and clearly. Of course, if you’d rather consult legal counsel my client is prepared to cover your costs as a farm-warming present…no strings attached,” offers Ms Sawyer.
She leans her cleavage over the table slightly as she slowly slides the document over to Gilbert. His eyes never leave hers and right on cue Katou’s trusty bandit Pierre ferrets his way into her briefcase. He pulls out a thumb drive and scurries off into the study.
“Papa, je cours chercher tes lunettes.” Katou leaves for the study where Pierre waits on the computer desk beside his stolen treasure. She copies its contents to a password protected folder, hands the memory stick back to Pierre, and sends him off to return the borrowed goods as she nabs her father’s reading glasses.
After a ten-minute cursory glance at the proposed merger, Gilbert removes his glasses, looks over at his daughter saying no with her eyes, and stands up. “Let me look this over and attend to my father’s affairs. Come back next month.”
The woman slides her eyes over to Katou staring at her defiantly then responds: “Your creditors may not be so patient.” She looks over at the family portrait taken during his wife’s remission, then back at his daughter who attacks the woman with perfect English.
“You tell that put—
“—Katou!” interrupts her father.
Katou purses her lips: “You tell that client of yours that he has been waiting 10 years to kill my grandfather’s dream, he can wait another month.” She points to the exit just as Pierre emerges from the briefcase.
A staring match ensues which Katou wins, the unwelcome guests leave, and Katou goes running off into the corn field with Fifi and Pierre.
The distraught teenager finds a hidden carrot patch and flops down exhausted and sobbing. She prays quietly for some guidance. She must unlock the secrets of the polyculture paradise and help her father turn it into a thriving sustainable business model for all other farmers to follow.
Suddenly she hears a little voice from the hemp field nearby. She follows it and spies the Hopper family discussing her situation:
“I can help her map out the crops, show her what goes with what,” Niko offers.
“Yes, and I can teach her when to pick them, how to make the right mulch,” Bonnie adds.
“It’s too dangerous, honey bunnies. That animal of hers will surely kill you,” Mrs. Hopper counters.
Bonnie plops her little cottontail down and grumbles: “But mommy, when the big bad mega-farms take over….” Her eyes grow wide with fear. Niko gulps. And Mrs. Hopper hops back and forth across their nesting spot, thinking, until she suddenly stops as the ocean of hemp around them starts to part.
It’s Fifi and Katou holding Pierre tightly in her arms.
“Eek!” The kits bound over to their mother.
“I promise that Pierre will not hurt you.” Katou takes Pierre aside and has a serious discussion with him. He nods. She places him down and he rolls on his back, inviting Fifi to come over to show the bunnies how he likes to play. Always up for a good wrestle, Niko slips through his mother’s protective embrace and joins in. Bonnie is still unsure.
Katou picks up little Bonnie and sits down on the flattened hemp stems. “OK. So how can we save the farm? We have one month.”
Thirty days go by and the Hoppers, with the protection of Fifi the security alarm and Pierre the body guard, have taken Katou over every inch of Farmer Tom’s paradise and have helped her create a detailed map of the entire ecosystem with all the instructions necessary to keep it healthy and abundant. Katou is now ready to present their plan to her father.
Gilbert leans over the kitchen table pouring over the finances shaking his head. He sits back in his chair, beaten.
Fifi announces Katou’s arrival with her little band of eco-bunnies to the rescue. She shows him the secret files Pierre “borrowed” from Ms. Sawyer showing exactly how they actually plan to uproot everything and turn their family paradise into monocrop and frankencrop hell. She then lays out a detailed counter-plan: the map and a large black book.
Inside the book, there is a list of local residents who have already provided a down-payment for their weekly organic baskets, a list of farmers who are interested in educational tours, a list of local schools who want class excursion days, a commitment from a famous documentary filmmaker who wants to create a TV series featuring them, and many more inspirations to keep Grampa’s dream alive.
“Grampa Tom’s Polyculture Paradise,” yells Katou excitedly.
Gilbert smiles for the first time since his father’s death and hugs his daughter deeply.
The sound of tires skidding on gravel announce a truck pulling up the long driveway.
Gilbert walks over to the study, pulls out the contract, runs it through the shredder and into a blue bin, and heads out to meet the corporate vultures with recycling in one hand and his daughter holding the other.
This time Gilbert cannot concealed his complete lack of interest. He hands the pail over to Ms. Sawyer with a huge grin on his face.
“It makes for good chicken coop bedding.”
The father and daughter super-team turn around and walk back to the farmhouse, arm in arm.