Symphony of the Soil at Conferences

Symphony of the Soil will be screening at many important conferences in the next couple of months:

Justice Begins With Seeds | Presented by Biosafety Alliance
August 1-3, 2013 in Seattle, WA
The GMO Awareness Week Film Series screens Symphony of the Soil
Thursday August 1 at 8pm PST
at Campbell Hall in the University Presbyterian Church (4540 15th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105)
To register:
Facebook Invite

American Community Gardening Association Conference
August 8–11, 2013 in Seattle, WA
Saturday, August 10 at 8PM PST
at the University of Washington, Gould Hall – Room 322 (on the corner of NE 40th St. between  University Way N.E. and 15th Ave. N.E. in the University District.)
For more information:

American Renewable Energy Day Conference
August 15-18, 2013 in Aspen, CO
Friday August 16 at 12noon MST
Pitkin County Library, 120 N Mill St, Aspen, CO
For more information:

The National Heirloom Seed Exposition
September 10-12, 2013 in Santa Rosa, CA
Wednesday September 11, at 4pm PST
at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds – Showcase Cafe
Producer/Director Deborah Koons Garcia will be screening select clips of Symphony of the Soil and holding a discussion with organic farmer Penny Livingston Stark.
— Look for the Lily Films booth to purchase Lily Films films. —

The National Bioneers Conference | Presented by Bioneers
October 18-20, 2013 in San Rafael, CA
Symphony of the Soil will screen as part of the Film Showings
Friday, October 18 at 7pm PST
Location TBA
For more information:

14th Annual Wise Traditions Conference | Presented by Weston A. Price Foundation
November 7-11, 2013 in Atlanta, GA
Symphony of the Soil will screen
Friday November 8, 2013
Location TBA
Dr. Joseph Heckman will lead a discussion after the film.
For more information:


Deborah Koons Garcia, producer/director of Symphony of the Soil and Ryan Storm, blogger at the Canadian Organic Growers Conference

Other conferences Symphony of the Soil has screened this year include:

Ecofarm Conference, Pacifica, CA January 2013
Deborah Koons Garcia in attendance

Canadian Organics Growers Conference, Toronto, ON, February 2013
Deborah Koons Garcia in attendance

Soil and Nutrition Conference, Northampton, MA, February 2013

MOSES Organic Farming Conference, Spring Valley, WI, February 2013

The Maker Faire, San Mateo, CA, May 2013
Deborah Koons Garcia in attendance

Edible Manhattan: Q&A with Symphony of the Soil’s Deborah Koons Garcia

ediblemanhattanlogoMayor Michael “Compost with the Most!” Bloomberg has a new hero. Writer/Director Deborah Koons Garcia’s terroir tour de force, Symphony of the Soil, is showing this Thursday night at the IFC Center downtown (click here to see the trailer). We caught up with her recently to get the dirt (ha! soil humor!) on replenishing what lies beneath, how digging down makes for better flavor, and that top soils beauty really is barely skin deep, among other filthy topics:

Did you get the idea for Symphony of the Soil while working on The Future of Food, and is this your first project since?

It is. I started thinking about it while doing the Future of Food and traveling around and showing it all over the place, and thought I’d do something in same realm. So I decided to make a film on soil, although didn’t know much about it. When came time, and I started reading a lot of soil-based book and talking to people, I realized it was going to be a much bigger film that just agriculture, and about soil as a formative substance of our planet.

So what’s Symphony of the Soil about?

It’s kind of the way that I ended up thinking about it in terms of filmmaking: Soil as a protagonist in our planetary story. Not only what plants grow from it, but water, and the cycle of death to life. It’s interesting because it seems like it’s inert, but soil is incredibly active. Soil itself has so many different elements can’t really point to it and say, ‘That’s just soil.’ So if you think about the soil as an organism, it becomes a character, and this important sort of co-exister on the planet with us. We arrive from it and go back to it—it is the ultimate transformative substance and process. When you look at it that way, it’s huge. And kind of philosophical. If we didn’t have that ability to break things down that died and to be taken up by new organisms, it would be a really different place. It seems like nothing’s going on, but when you understand that so much happens in it, it becomes this magical substance.

The trailer calls soil, “the living skin of the Earth.”

It is! When you think about the top soil, there’s maybe 6 inches of it, and then a lower level, going down about 6 feet, in general, of subsoil. But that’s it. All life is depends on these 6 inches. And it is like a skin. How skin is so amazing because it is protective and regenerative. You can cut yourself and heal – it’s like a miracle! Soil allows us to thrive, and yet it’s such a thin skin – think about the diameter of the Earth and there’s just 6 inches on one side and the other. How does soil affect the flavor and quality food? We have [Blue Hill and Stone Barns owner/chef] Dan Barber in the film and he talks about that. Flavor and quality of food are very much related to the soil its grown in. The healthier it is with nutrients and minerals and organic matter that goes back into it, the more flavor something has. One of the reason why commercial tomatoes are so awful is they are grown in inert soil with chemical. They just don’t taste as good as tomatoes grown in good soil. We did a bunch of film shorts for this project, too, called sonatas. One of them is with John Williams of Frog’s Leap. He dry farms his vines and doesn’t need to irrigate, even though it doesn’t rain in Napa from April to October. What happens when the soil is good and you have the right variety of nutrients, etc., is the roots will grow down deep, and not wide, in search of water. As they go deeper they pull nutrients and minerals from the soil into the grapes. If you irrigate, all the nutrients are fed to the vines via that irrigation, and not from the soil. So the roots get balled up and the grapes don’t have a lot of flavor. So they try to leave them on the vines to get more flavor, but instead they just get more sugar, and therefore more alcohol.

I read recently that the peat bogs of the world are starting to run out. I read about Big Ag destroying the soil all over the country and the world. Last year, I saw an art exhibit at a winery that showed all these aerial shots of drought-ridden sections of the world that were once fertile – it’s shocking stuff. Can soil come back?

It can. But soil can die. And that’s what’s called dirt — dead soil. There are microorganisms in soil, and if they’re dead, there’s no way to kick start them. Salinization can kill soil, if you over-irrigate in some parts of world, you pull up the salt and that kills the soil. Drought can kill soil. If you don’t have a cover crop or mulch, that top layer can blow away and you get into subsoil, and it won’t be as fertile. This whole process of life running through the soil stops. That’s really scary. Yes, but you can rebuild! If you wait for planet Earth to do it, it will take a long time. But you can put compost and feed the soil. You can put organic matter back into the soil. We have a woman in the film who grew her soil 8 inches. You have to give back to it and protect it. In nature, a leaf falls from tree and the microorganisms break down and go back into the roots of tree and help it grow. If you have agriculture that takes off that organic matter with nothing going back, that soil will be degraded because the microorganisms need to be fed. Making this film, what did you take away with you? Just how alive soil is – how many different processes are happening. And how connected everything is. Like a cow or elk eats grass, and then manure is left on a field, and that feeds the microorganisms. On the most basic level of electrons, there’s an exchange of positive and negative charges at a microscopic level. That’s all happening! And that’s very interesting to me. There are millions of different kinds of organisms in soil, and soil scientists are just learning how it works. People are realizing how mysterious it is and, in many ways, resilient. But it you treat it like dirt…

Original article:

July 10, 2013 | By

Walking the Streets of NYC before the premiere at the IFC

The good folk from Ryder Organic Farms

The good folk from Ryder Organic Farms

As a one-time New Yorker I am absolutely amazed at how much the city is evolving into being more environmentally conscious. I was promoting in the city for the upcoming premiere of Symphony of the Soil at the IFC July 11th  and was as lucky enough to meet some of the folks who are changing the city for the better and doing great work.  From the Grow NYC composters at the TriBeCa farmers market and Union Square Green Market, to The Horticultural Society of NY in mid-town Manhattan, to the farmers from Norwhich Meadows and Ryder Organic Farms who work the Green Markets, it was truly amazing to see how many people and organizations are contributing to making New York City a more sustainable (and beautiful) place to live.  Some of these organizations have been around for quite a while, and some of them are ‘fairly’ new, but here’s a just a sampling of the many organizations in NYC that are changing the city for the better (and these are only a few!).

Grow NYC

Just Food

PS 41

New York City Bee Keepers

Eagle Street Rooftop Farm

Added Value

Brooklyn Grange

Bushwick Coop



Green Guerillas

Lower East Side Ecology Center

New York PermaCutlure Exchange

Slow Food NYC 

Feel free to add to the list if you know of folks in NYC promoting healthy practices to save our soil!  Keep up the great work NYC – there’s a lot more work to be done, but truly inspiring to see.

As one of the composters at the TriBeCa market said, one day SoHo will be called “GroHo”?..

-Post written by Carolina Cruz Santiago
July 11, 2013 at 5:43

Grow NYC Compost Station at the TriBeCa Farmers Market

Grow NYC Compost Station at the TriBeCa Farmers Market

Bicoastal Symphony of the Soil screenings next week!

Symphony of the Soil New York City Premiere at the IFC Center

Thursday July 11, 2013
6:30 PM
IFC Center – 323 Sixth Avenue at West Third Street | New York City, NY 10014


Limited seating. Purchase tickets in advance, from the IFC Center website:

Q and A after the film with:
Deborah Koons Garcia – Producer/Director
Dr. Ignacio Chapela – Microbial Ecologist, UC Berkeley
Dr. Michael Hansen – Senior Scientist, Consumers Union

Symphony of the Soil at the Dance Palace Point Reyes Station, CA

Saturday July 13, 2013
7:00 PM
The Dance Palace – 503 B St | Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

Q an A after the film with:
Deborah Koons Garcia – Director/Producer
Dr. Ignacio Chapela – Microbial Ecologist, UC Berkeley
Warren Weber – Farmer, Star Route Farms

We will be serving certified organic ice cream from our friends at the Straus Family Creamery!

$10 per person pre-sale through BrownPaperTickets and $12 at the door.

Limited seating. Get your tickets early –