Six Inches of Soil - ‘We owe our existence to a six-inch layer of topsoil and the fact it rains’

A documentary feature film will tell the untold story of Britain’s agroecological movement.

By Joanne Knox
Monday, 21st February 2022, 4:56 pm

Six Inches of Soil is the first British regenerative farming documentary feature film produced by award-winning Dragonlight Films.

Directed by Colin Ramsay and produced by Claire Mackenzie, the film centres on both new entrant and established farming pioneers who are leaving behind conventional agriculture to build a future that focuses on the health of the soil and increases biodiversity.

The film will follow their often challenging journeys and will examine the whole ecosystem of food and farming, including how they access land and create robust business models.

Sign up to our daily Farming Life Today newsletter

Anna Jackson, Six Inches of Soil new entrant farmer.

As well as Colin and Claire, Six Inches of Soil includes a small but highly creative production team of agroecological farmers and food campaigners, including George Young, Dr. Lucy Michaels, and James Murray-White.

To raise funds to push ahead with production in 2022, the team is launching a Crowdfunder on 1 March.

With a compelling narrative, engaging animations and interviews with leading figures, the film will tell the story of the UK’s broken food system.

It will offer a provocative ‘focusing moment’ for wider public debate giving farmers confidence to adopt nature-friendly practices, consumers the impetus to rethink food choices, and aims to create a groundswell of opinion resulting in policy change and funding for a British agroecological transition.

Six Inches of Soil sound recordist, Daria Hupov; director, Colin Ramsay; and head of conservation, Holkham Estate, Norfolk, Jake Fiennes.

The lead characters will meet with both conventional and regenerative farmers across the country, including Jake Fiennes, head of conservation, Holkham Estate, Norfolk, and Stephen Briggs, who is a first-generation farmer and has been farming organically for 18 years at his 576-acre farm in Cambridgeshire.

They’ll also have discussions with experts in the food and farming sector including Vicki Hird, sustainable farming campaign co-ordinator and author of Rebugging the Planet, and Henry Dimbleby, author of government commissioned National Food Strategy.

Characters and additional nature friendly farming experts will be announced in the coming months.

Colin Ramsay, director, Six Inches of Soil, commented: “This project is a labour of love for the whole team.

Six Inches of Soil director, Colin Ramsay, and director of photography, Jeremy Dawson.

“Farmers in the UK are becoming increasingly aware of how modern tillage and chemical input practices have damaged and depleted our soils.

“As the saying goes, despite all our accomplishments, we owe our existence to a six-inch layer of topsoil and the fact it rains.

“We want to highlight these issues and look at agroecology through a British lens, showing the unique challenges but also the huge rewards this method of farming presents.

“We hope that by communicating clearly and accessibly why our food system is broken and how agroecology can help to fix it, we can help to be part of a transformation to the UK’s food-buying choices.”

Claire Mackenzie, producer, added: “After a year of pre-production research, visiting farms, talking to agroecology experts and inspirational organisations throughout the UK, as well as creating partnerships with organisations including the Soil Association, Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) and Sustain, we’re ready to move into the second stage of our documentary film journey.

“Personally, I want more people to hear from the farmers that I’ve met over the last year, many of whom are happier in their work because of their reconnection with the soil and their land and the formation of strong and close communities of like-minded people who are all supporting each other on this intrepid journey.”

Six Inches of Soil is scheduled to launch at Groundswell 2023.