"When soil becomes ‘land’ it is inherently political; as ‘earth’ it prompts a consideration of the wider environment." (Katherine Earshaw) A teaspoon of soil contains more living organisms than people in the world: biological diversity makes terrestrial life possible. This film will take soil as its starting point, and ask us to see land and our engagement with it differently.
This project aims to utilise the idea of a teaspoon of soil as a metaphor for community: full of diversity and defined by the land it inhabits. Made up of fungi, plants, animals, humans and rocks, soil is a symbol or barometer of our planet’s habitability. Soil is formed over thousands of years, can be degraded within days, but can be restored over agricultural seasons with a curated management of the resources available on the land. Life found within soils is a legacy of both the way the land is managed today and the geological legacy of the immediate surrounding landscape. We are working with scientists and farmers; gatekeepers of soil and the stories that unravel from it. Methods explored by climate and agricultural innovators within the farming community may change the landscape, expectations of productivity, and our pastoral expectations of its appearance. Working with and through these expectations - how we see the earth, the land - we will explore the tensions and beauty of what soil sustains, shows and conceals. We will explore regenerative movements such as rewilding, no-dig agriculture, soil-retention, recognition of desertification and methods of soil carbon capture that help rebalance this vital ingredient for life. Farming is an ancient practice, weaving together labour and worth to earth. The resultant terraforming of the earth has indelibly marked it with our presence, and we are marked in turn, by it. This exchange, however, feels imbalanced. Farmers are at the forefront of trying to find equilibrium, yet often at the sharp end of ecological tipping points. The UK’s agricultural history has witnessed the structural inequality of the enclosures act, the reverberations of the Corn Laws and expansion of the wool trade, industrial mining and the encirclement of land for hunting, military exercises or cattle pastures. We want to dedicate time to explore narratives of agri-culture with present political, artistic and ecological concerns regarding the cultural values and meanings of landscape.