MICHAEL BOLINI (Ernest Borgnine) is a rugged seasoned Italian farmer who lives alone on his precious 240 acre fruit farm, when the bad news comes. It turns out his recently deceased mother had never switched the title of the farm into his name, and now the IRS wants their share of inheritance tax, based on values pumped up by development potential. BOLINI doesn’t have the money and isn’t very interested in selling off any of his land to settle the debt. PAUL HAIGHT (Wayne David Parker) a gung-ho developer, has big plans and has already optioned nearby farms. He is hungry for more, and stands ready and willing to solve BOLINI’s problems. BOLINI’s niece and only relative, SUSAN (Julie Kavner), calls in from time to time and encourages him to sell the farm, simplify his life, retire, buy a condo near her in Los Angeles. BOLINI is frustrated.
One crisp autumn afternoon, LYDIA (Kimberly Norris Guerrero) a Native American woman appears. She introduces herself as a member of one of the families that used to work there, picking cherries, she was six then. She felt compelled to visit the old farm and reminisce. BOLINI invites her in and brings her up to date on the state of the farm and the changes that seem imminent. They talk about the old times, before mechanical shakers, and he is glad for the visit.
They both know that once a farm gets turned into a subdivision, there’s no going back. But it’s his responsibility, after all, and he wants to be a good steward of the land. LYDIA agrees. One night after dinner, BOLINI reveals that he has a dangerous heart condition, and LYDIA shares secrets of her own. Bonded in truth, and armed with an appreciation of the farm and what it stands for, they embark on a mission to resolve the unwelcome dilemma that will surely impact the future of the farm.
LYDIA meets JOANNE (Suzi Regan), the clerk at the township office, who helps explain the process of development. JOANNE is cold at first, by the book, but sees something in LYDIA’s sincerity that is a welcome change from the wheeling-dealing developers who usually come in to loophole their way through the system. JOANNE eventually befriends LYDIA and offers a lifetime of governmental experience to help the cause. She is glad to help, even though the likelihood of losing the land to sprawl remains very real.
What follows is a dramatic struggle for the land. The township, the developers, the landowners, all fight for their slice of the pie. In the end, MICHAEL BOLINI makes a tough personal decision, and the precious land is preserved