The winner of the 6th Life Sciences Film Festival, “Soil Farmers” by Joris van der Kamp and Fransjan de Waard, is just an ordinary film about five extraordinary Dutch farmers who have tips how to treat soil. The less than 40 minutes of the film will make up for about two semesters of soil science.
Joris van der Kamp studied soil science at Wageningen, he did soil mapping in Spain, researched soil resources in Indonesia, worked with smallholder farmers in Ghana and did a four-month geo-ecology course in Norway. For four years he worked at Soil & More International, a Dutch composting organisation.
In 2012 he co-founded the Future Farmers in the Spotlight initiative, a film project aimed at inspiring young sustainable farmers in Europe. The result was a series of short films on young farmers who – in the words of one of the films’ titles – “chose the rural alternative”. Films from this series were part of one of the programme blocks at the 2014 LSFF.
This year, Joris – and the team consisting of Fransjan de Waard and Wouter Verwijlen – brought his first “long” film, Soil Farmers in which he goes back to the core of everything – the soil. We could say that we know more about distant galaxies than about the soil under our feet. Five Dutch farmers have one thing in common – what they grow is the soil (Well, do you remember Joel Salatin from the film Polyfaces from the LSFF 2015 programme who “only” grows grass?) They try to give soil what it needs – whether it is compost, peace thanks to no-till methods, or gentle use of mechanisation in the same rows every year. As a result they get soil full of bacteria, fungus and earth worms, soil full of life, healthy and fertile.
The Jury awarded Soil Farmers primarily for the value of information it provides. If you want to start farming or gardening, this civil informal film will take you where it all starts and ends – the universe under your feet.