Six Inches Of Soil: The New Film Celebrating British Farmers

By Jenny Jefferies

7 months ago

‘Despite all our accomplishments, we owe our existence to a six-inch layer of topsoil and the fact it rains’


Award-winning author Jenny Jefferies highlights the importance of a new film all about our current food system, and the British farmers who are pioneering a quiet revolution, right here in the UK.

Six Inches of Soil: The New Film Celebrating British Farmers

Aerial view of farmer tending to soil

Six Inches of Soil Ltd

Since World War II, industrial farming has transformed Britain’s rural landscapes through generous government subsidies, mechanisation and agrochemicals, which has resulted in a food culture shaped by cheap food. This miracle, however, has come at a massive and often hidden cost: the UK is one of the most depleted countries on the planet, with rising food inequality and related public health issues. As Paul Harvey, a radio broadcaster said in America in 1978, ‘Despite all our accomplishments, we owe our existence to a six-inch layer of topsoil and the fact it rains.’

Six Inches Of Soil is a brand new film being released this autumn about the inspiring story of British farmers 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. Six Inches of Soil is a story of courage, vision and hope.

This film will give farmers the confidence and practical know-how to adopt nature-friendly farming practices; give customers the impetus to rethink food choices and information about how to buy and support agroecologically produced food; and will create a groundswell of opinion resulting in policy change and public and private funding for a British agroecological transition.

Farmer tending to cows

Six Inches of Soil Ltd

The regenerative agriculture movement here in the UK is inspiring, important and necessary. ‘Regen ag’, as it is affectionally known, is all about the health of the soil; improving waterways and watersheds, improving biodiversity and wildlife, using cover crops, crop rotations, and the inclusion of livestock for mob grazing, while also producing good quality food. It all goes one step further than being just sustainable; it’s not ‘nature versus nurture’ anymore, it’s all about ‘nurturing our nature’. Farmers in Asia, for example, have been farming regeneratively for the last 100 years and is called ‘Nature Farming’. This method of farming is becoming more and more popular and successful, all around the world, and we Brits are playing catch up.

The small production team behind the film, including director Colin Ramsay, produce Claire Mackenzie and Researcher & Impact Producer Dr Lucy Michaels, all share a passion for the natural world and wholeheartedly believe in the power of film and stories to change hearts and minds. Their team includes experienced documentary filmmakers, scientists, farmers, food and environmental campaigners who are working tirelessly, and with passion, behind the scenes.

Production team for Six Inches of Soill

Six Inches of Soil Ltd

Together, they have filmed on the road for 42 days, shot over 120 hours of footage in all weathers, in nine different English counties including Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Cumbria, Devon, Suffolk, Gloucestershire, Lancashire, Lincolnshire and Oxfordshire. They have interviewed over 20 farmers and other experts, attended farming conferences, protests, filmed with sheep, pigs, cows as well as with their unsung heroes – the microbes, fungi, dung beetles, earthworms and other critters of the soil community.

Meanwhile, Impact Producer Mel Bradley is helping the Six Inches of Soil team deliver their impact campaign across the UK in collaboration with their partners. She has a background in project and event management and is currently working with various groups in the regenerative space. She helped deliver the inaugural Rootstock conference and is a Kiss the Ground soil advocate, and her passion is helping to scale up and speed up regenerative farming. She brings a wealth of experience, with 15 years in bringing people together and building networks. She advised on the documentary ‘My Childhood My Country, 20 years in Afghanistan’ which won a 2022 BAFTA.

Six Inches Of Soil reveals the magic of our healthy soils and gives a voice to young British farmers, including new-entrants into farming. This film promotes the familiarity with agroecology and regenerative farming and explores the barriers and opportunities for change at both an individual level and a system level. It also explores how we can build regenerative food markets in the UK whilst promoting policy, connecting food with farming, the environment, local economies and public health, and, above all, helps us all to rediscover our regenerative nature as humans.

With the current challenges currently facing our British farmers with climate change, conflict, rise in costs of energy, fuel and fertiliser, labour shortages, the aftermath of the Covid pandemic and Brexit, it’s more important now more than ever before to really support our British food producers, especially our farmers.

Six Inches Of Soil will be released this week and will initially be screened on farms, agri and food events, private cinemas and community groups all over the UK. It will be streamed online later in 2024. For more information please visit sixinchesofsoil.org and follow @sixinchesofsoil on Instagram and @sixinchessoil on Twitter.