30 November 2023
Six Inches of Soil is an inspiring documentary film about how British farmers are standing up against the industrial food system and transforming the way they produce food - to heal the soil, benefit our health and provide for local communities.
Due to be released in January 2024, the team want the film to inspire a provocative “focusing moment” for a wider public debate on the food system in Britain today.
Last year, we connected with Six Inches of Soil as we developed our thinking around the Plant Your Pants campaign. As our projects aligned, so did the opportunities to work together. Shortly after, in October, our Farm Discovery Coordinator Amrita Huggins joined the Six Inches of Soil team on one of their feature farms to film a ‘Plant Your Pants’ burying session at Sweetpea Market Garden in Caxton, alongside children from Winhills Primary Academy.
Skip ahead, and after four months since they were first buried, the team and the children returned to the farm to dig up the pants and investigate what has changed… did the pants survive?
We recently caught up with Claire Mackenzie, producer of Six Inches of Soil to talk about the film, soil and of course, pants!
Q. For anyone who may not yet have heard of Six inches of Soil, can you summarise what it’s about?
A. Six Inches of Soil is an independent documentary feature film that takes us through the journey of 3 young new farmers over the course of the year, starting and ending in March, telling the story of farmers, communities, small businesses, chefs and entrepreneurs who are leading the way to transform how our food is produced and consumed.
The film focuses on the importance of soil alongside an ‘agroecology’ approach to farming that includes techniques that work in harmony with nature, rather than against it.
Q. What was your personal journey to soil?
A. My passion is environmentalism - I’ve always been interested in it alongside my other work, and food has always been at the centre of that passion.
I also work holistically at a cancer centre, so when seeking advice, I come across environmental issues and chemicals with carcinogenic links related to food. This has prompted a deep interest in looking at food, where it is from and grown, as well as the chemicals in the air, our water, and of course, our soil.
Q. What sparked your interest in Plant your Pants?
A. We’re desperate to bring soil alive, so when we talked to the Country Trust we thought “Wow! You’re planting pants in the soil!” and were excited to become a part of the campaign as it can be hard to understand why soil matters.
Plant your Pants is such an accessible resource and a way to start the journey of soil discovery. It gives people the chance to build confidence and get their hands in the soil as they build their awareness of soil, the climate and the ecosystem.
Plant Your Pants is not just looking at soil, it’s exploring how plants grow and how important the soil is for those plants.
Q. And how did the children respond to planting pants during your recent filming?
A. It was great – the kids loved it, and we caught their enthusiasm on camera!
Some children initially were nervous about putting their hands in the soil, especially because of Covid-19, so they wore gloves. Before long though, they ended up taking off the gloves because they wanted to directly touch and feel the soil, look at worms, and discuss all that was going on within the soil.
We also did an amazing taste test session as part of the Plant Your Pants learning where children were able to try some food that is grown on the farm, such as raw lemons, rocket and winter vegetables. It was an amazing moment on camera - it was great to see.
Q. What would you like to see as a result of Plant your Pants?
A. We would like children to develop an interest in soil and have a desire to get involved again, or even more involved, whether on farms or to grow their own food where they can with families, friends and local projects. In the past, many schools ran sustainable gardening clubs for children but unfortunately, most have stopped since Covid-19. We hope that children getting their hands in the soil will encourage them to ask their schools to become more involved with growing their own food.
Plant Your Pants has the potential to increase people’s understanding of soil as a lifeform essential for our own, and our planet’s sustenance, and to educate children that if we look after our soil, we look after our waterways, rivers, and seas – and us!
Q. Where will Six Inches of Soil be available to watch?
The film will be officially released in January 2024 and will be screened at farms and schools. We are also working with a distribution expert who works directly with cinemas and streaming services – so that would be a game-changer if the film could get onto those platforms. We want everyone to be able to access the film as the health of our soil is such an important topic that needs to be spread as far-reaching as possible to make a real impact.
Find out more: www.sixinchesofsoil.org/