Sourcing sustainable ingredients has always been a priority for us. But this month, as our minds turn to harvest, food and farming, we’re dedicating a new installment of our Natural Thinking playlist to all things organic, regenerative and agroecological.
From soil health to fighting climate change, field to fork, veg patch to shopping basket, we’ve gathered some of our favourite films, listens and books to help you dig into this fascinating and vital subject.
(Header image: thanks to pitchupandgrow.co.uk regenerative farming initiative)
1. Why Regenerative Organic? Soil is the Solution – a film by Patagonia
“Soil is where food begins. Soil is the foundation of life. There are more microorganisms in a teaspoon of soil than there are stars in the sky.”
In less than three minutes, this short film by Patagonia makes a compelling case for why we should care about regenerative agriculture and eating/ buying better food. Because “soil is life, life is soil” – a great introduction to the subject.
[Thanks to The Land Gardeners for sharing this – and for all their great work on better growing – check out their inoculum compost subscriptions too]
And while understanding the difference between the terms ‘regenerative’, ‘organic’ and ‘agroecology’ can be tricky, this Wicked Leeks article sums it up nicely.
2. The Land Gardeners – Climate Compost
“Imagine soil is like a great cityscape – a metropolis [...] Soil is about architecture and that structure is our resilience, it’s what holds the planet together.”
We’re turning to The Land Gardeners again to present a comprehensive video (seven minutes this time) on soil science, containing an overview of how bacteria and funghi in the earth interact to form a highly complex and crucial ecosystem. It contains insightful and succinct contributions from renowned physician and thought leader Zach Bush MD, director of Integrity Soils Nicole Masters, World Food Prize 2020 winner Rattan Lal and microbiologist and funghi expert Merlin Sheldrake.
3. Seat At The Table: Farming That Reverses Climate Change
Seat At The Table is a 12-part YouTube series that follows Jack Harries as he filmed his travels up from the Isles of Scilly to Glasgow for Cop 26 in 2022. Along the way, he invites Devon-based horticulturist and permaculture advocate Poppy Okotcha to talk about the significance of healthy soil, looks into no-soil underground farming taking place in a London bunker with highly nutritious results, and covers the planet-positive general shift towards plant-based diets.
4. No Dig: Nurture Your Soil to Grow Better Veg with Less Effort
Charles Dowding is a hugely influential author and horticulturist on the agroecology scene and rigorous campaigner for the ‘no dig’ method, which allows the soil to carry out its regular carbon sequestration duties. If you haven’t come across Dowding before, this short film by Riverford’s Wicked Leeks gives you a quick introduction:
Autumn / winter is prime time to be making plans for the next growing season, restocking the compost pile, getting empty pots ready, charting plant cycles… So here’s an opportunity to follow tips from Dowding’s book No Dig: Nurture Your Soil to Grow Better Veg with Less Effort for your planting plans, packed with advice for gardeners on how to cultivate crops in partnership with nature, boosting soil productivity and enjoying bumper home-grown produce at the same time.
5. Rooted: How Regenerative Farming can Save the World
Make a cup of tea and curl up with Rooted: How Regenerative Farming can Save the World by Sarah Langford – a beautiful, eye-opening look at the crises in modern farming, from falling incomes and supermarkets pushing prices lower to grappling with livestock diseases and the effects of the pandemic.
A former barrister and author who moved from London to the Suffolk countryside in 2017 with her family, Langford weaves together her own story of returning to the land with the difficult but also inspiring experiences shared by the farmers she talks to. Her bestselling account shines a compassionate light on the farming sector today, as well as demonstrating the bonds between land, farmer/producer and consumer – although we may not always recognise its significance.
6. The Food Chain: Can Small Farms Feed The World? (BBC Radio World Service)
The Food Chain is a long-running BBC radio series examining the business, science and cultural significance of food, and what’s involved in getting it to our plate. This particular episode features Rob and Lizzie Walrond who decided to switch to organic farming 20 years ago, and looks at farms in both the UK and Argentina.
Presenter Grace Livingstone probes our consumer habits, and finds evidence that while only 3% of farms in the UK are organic, organic smallholder farms could potentially feed us all in the future – the operative ‘diet of the future’ mantras being “less and better meat” and “more and better plants”.
7. Kiss the Ground, 2020 (Netflix)
Narrated by Woody Harrelson, this multi-award-winning and, literally, groundbreaking documentary made waves on its release. Setting out to catalyse change and transform thinking around soil regeneration and our collective ability as humans to rebalance and restore lost ecosystems if we all pull together, it proposes a world in which we’re able to create abundant food supplies that would feed our growing world population more equitably.
8. Six Inches of Soil (currently in production, please support!)
Engaging with a wide spread of trailblazing farmers, communities, small businesses, chefs and entrepreneurs who are transforming how our food is produced and consumed, this UK documentary has been in the works since 2021 and is generating a lot of buzz, garnering support from Green Party peer Baroness Natalie Bennett and food campaigner Henry Dimbleby (author of Ravenous – another must-read if you’re interested in this topic).
As an independently-made crowdfunded project, the post-production phase is still underway and reliant on donations to release the film. So if you’re hungry for more after watching this trailer, hit the ‘Donate’ button on their website to help get the final film in front of audiences.
9. Charles Dowding and Dr Eric Berg in conversation (YouTube)
Eyes opened wide? Then keep digging deeper, with this smart, compassionate discussion between Charles Dowding (above) and US nutritionist Dr Eric Berg about the unavoidable link between soil health and human health, and the reasons why humankind should be choosing organic and nature-friendly food .