With summer around the corner, many of us are excited to spend more time outside getting our hands dirty in the garden. To celebrate International Compost Awareness Week, the UW Recycling team has unearthed a list of movies and books to provide some inspiration. Each resource was hand-picked to teach the importance of soil health and giving back to the earth.
If you’re interested in learning about the UW’s composting system, check out our short virtual waste tour of the UW or dig deeper with UW Recycling’s 2020 Q&A session with the Composting Manufacturing Alliance.
UW Recycling recognizes that topics of soil health, farming and food scarcity disproportionately impact people of color, while much of the media representation about these topics is created by white individuals. With this list, we strive to embrace inclusive films and books with multiple perspectives and would love to add your recommendations to help make this list more diverse.
“DIRT! The Movie–narrated by Jamie Lee Curtis–brings to life the environmental, economic, social and political impact that the soil has. It shares the stories of experts from all over the world who study and are able to harness the beauty and power of a respectful and mutually beneficial relationship with soil.” - Dirt! The Movie
“Narrated and featuring Woody Harrelson, Kiss the Ground is an inspiring and groundbreaking film that reveals the first viable solution to our climate crisis. Kiss the Ground reveals that, by regenerating the world’s soils, we can completely and rapidly stabilize Earth’s climate, restore lost ecosystems and create abundant food supplies.” - Kiss the Ground
“In a race against the end of farmable soil, three individuals fight for change in the industry of agricultural food production, calling for a revolution. Produced and narrated by Rosario Dawson, "The Need to GROW" delivers alarming evidence on the importance of healthy soil — revealing not only the potential of localized food production working with nature, but our opportunity as individuals to help regenerate our planet’s dying soils and participate in the restoration of the Earth.” - The Need to GROW
The Biggest Little Farm
“The Biggest Little Farm chronicles the eight-year quest of John and Molly Chester as they trade city living for 200 acres of barren farmland and a dream to harvest in harmony with nature. Featuring breathtaking cinematography, captivating animals, and an urgent message to heed Mother Nature’s call, The Biggest Little Farm provides us all a vital blueprint for better living and a healthier planet.”- The Biggest Little Farm
“Living Soil tells the story of farmers, scientists, and policymakers working to incorporate agricultural practices to benefit soil health for years to come. Each farmer shares a story as unique as the soil they manage with a shared theme that resonates throughout the film: Our soil is a special resource we should all cherish and strive to protect.” - Living Soil Film
Watch for free on Youtube.
Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table (Food Heroes)
“Will Allen is no ordinary farmer. A former basketball star, he’s as tall as his truck, and he can hold a cabbage, or a basketball, in one hand. But what is most special about Farmer Will is that he can see what others can’t see. When he looked at an abandoned city lot he saw a huge table, big enough to feed the whole world. No space, no problem. Poor soil, there’s a solution. Need help, found it. Farmer Will is a genius in solving problems. In 2008, the MacArthur Foundation named him one.” - provided by the publisher
The Rodale Book of Composting, Newly Revised and Updated: Simple Methods to Improve Your Soil, Recycle Waste, Grow Healthier Plants, and Create an Earth-Friendly Garden (Rodale Classics)
“Even though this book was written over 25 years ago, composting is experiencing a renaissance - and this revised edition includes all the latest in new techniques, technology, equipment. Gardeners know it's the best way to feed the soil and turn food scraps into fresh produce, but even urbanites can get on board thanks to programs like compost pickup and citywide food waste initiatives. The Rodale Book of Composting offers easy-to-follow instructions for making and using compost, helpful tips for apartment dwellers to suburbanites, farmers and community leaders, and ecologically sound solutions to growing waste-disposal problems.” - provided by the publisher
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants
“As a botanist and professor of plant ecology, Robin Wall Kimmerer has spent a career learning how to ask questions of nature using the tools of science. As a Potawatomi woman, she learned from elders, family, and history that the Potawatomi, as well as a majority of other cultures indigenous to this land, consider plants and animals to be our oldest teachers. Once we begin to listen for the languages of other beings, we can begin to understand the innumerable life-giving gifts the world provides us and learn to offer our thanks, our care, and our own gifts in return.” - provided by the publisher
Perilous Bounty: The Looming Collapse of American Farming and How We Can Prevent It
“An unsettling journey into the disaster-bound American food system, and an exploration of possible solutions, from leading food politics commentator and former farmer Tom Philpott.” - provided by the publisher
The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies Are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet
“Thousands of years of poor farming, ranching, and land practices, especially modern industrial agriculture, have led to the loss of 80 billion tons of carbon from the world’s soils. In The Soil Will Save Us, journalist Kristin Ohlson makes a case for "our great green hope," a way in which we can not only heal the land but also turn atmospheric carbon into beneficial soil carbon and potentially reverse global warming.” - provided by the publisher
Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations
“An engaging natural and cultural history of soil that sweeps from ancient civilizations to modern times, Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations explores the compelling idea that we are--and have long been--using up Earth's soil. David R. Montgomery sees in the recent rise of organic and no-till farming the hope for a new agricultural revolution that might help us avoid the fate of previous civilizations.” - provided by the publisher
Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life
“In Growing a Revolution, geologist David R. Montgomery travels the world, meeting farmers at the forefront of an agricultural movement to restore soil health. From Kansas to Ghana, he sees why adopting the three tenets of conservation agriculture—ditching the plow, planting cover crops, and growing a diversity of crops—is the solution. When farmers restore fertility to the land, this helps feed the world, cool the planet, reduce pollution, and return profitability to family farms.” - provided by the publisher
Call of the Reed Warbler: A New Agriculture – A New Earth
“Author and radical farmer Charles Massy explores transformative and regenerative agriculture and the vital connection between our soil and our health. It is a story of how a grassroots revolution, a true underground insurgency, can save the planet, help turn climate change around, and build healthy people and healthy communities, pivoting significantly on our relationship with growing and consuming food.” - provided by the publisher
Available at no cost through UW Libraries.
Second Nature: A Gardener's Education
“One day, Harper's Magazine editor Michael Pollan bought an old Connecticut dairy farm. He planted a garden and the result is a funny, profound, and beautifully written book which has become a classic of American nature writing. It inspires thoughts on the war of the roses; sex and class conflict in the garden; virtuous composting; the American lawn; seed catalogs, and the politics of planting a tree.” - provided by the publisher