Napa Opera House screening and event

Symphony of the Soil will be screening at the Napa Valley Opera House
Wednesday, October 2, 2013

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6:00pm – Reception in Cafe featuring wines from Demeter-certified Biodynamic® vineyards and food from local GE-free vendors supporting Label GMOs Napa County.

Vendors and sponsors include Demeter-certified Biodynamic® Vineyards, Label GMOs Napa County, Frog’s Leap Winery, Charbay Artisan Distillery & WineryLa Toque,  Teeeny Tiny Coffee CompanyAtlas Peak Olive Oil, St. Clair Brown Winery, Ca’ MomiSilverado Cooking School, Boca Farm, Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch, and Foodshed Pizza and Pasta.

7:00pm – Symphony of the Soil screening

Q&A with:
Producer/Director Deborah Koons Garcia
UC Berkeley Microbial Ecologist Dr. Ignacio Chapela
Frog’s Leap Owner and Winemaker John Williams

To purchase tickets and for more information:

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A special thank you to our Demeter Association and Label GMOs Napa County for their help with the reception and promotions.

A special thanks to Slow Food Napa Valley for helping get the word out about  the event!

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Director Deborah Koons Garcia Discusses Alternatives to the Industrial Food System


“Symphony of the Soil” director Deborah Koons Garcia

When it comes to agriculture in the 21st century, there are generally two types of farms. There’s the small, diversified and often organic operation, and then there’s the large, commercial, commodity agribusiness. While the organic farmer usually uses traditional methods of composting, planting cover crops and plenty of manual labor to keep the farm producing, the agribusiness relies on chemical fertilizers, pesticides, genetically engineered crops and heavy machinery to keep yields high. For the past several decades, most policy makers have subscribed to the philosophy that industrial farming is the only way to feed the world and view small-scale organic farms as more of a boutique trade. In recent years a new movement has challenged that wisdom.

In 2004, filmmaker (and widow of Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead) Deborah Koons Garcia delivered a blistering critique of the industrial food system with her documentary “The Future of Food.” Widely shown in environmental and local-food activist circles, the film documents the control the biotech industry has exerted over the global food system with the patenting of genetically engineered foods (GMOs) and the proliferation of large, industrial, monoculture farms. As a result, small farmers have been pushed out of business, the population has become dependent on food corporations, and the risk of an ecological calamity due to the lack of biological diversity and reliance on petroleum-based, toxic chemicals has increased exponentially. Garcia says if humans are going to survive, we’re going to have to get back to our roots.

“I’m a conservative,” said Garcia during a recent interview. “I want to conserve our seed supply. I want to conserve our culture, our small farms, and our small towns.”

Garcia’s describes her latest film, “Symphony of the Soil,” as the completion of a consciousness-raising project she began over a decade ago with “The Future of Food.” Her new documentary is a compelling study of our relationship to the soil, the “living skin of the earth.” Garcia breaks soil down into its most basic components, from glacial clay and coral fragments to wind-blown and water-dropped sediments. As the film notes, 75 percent of soil is formed by such transport. It is then enriched with millions of tiny organisms, creating the “interface between geology and biology,” a cycle that has allowed humans to find sustenance from the land since the very beginning.

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Bay Area support

We at Lily Films work with community groups to ensure that our screenings are a success. Recently the following groups have been helping us promote our San Francisco screening at the Roxie on Saturday September 28th at 7pm.

Thank You…

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We appreciate the love, support and help promoting our event.

Symphony of the Soil at The Roxie in San Francisco
Saturday, September 28 at 7:00pm
Producer/Director Deborah Koons Garcia and UC Berkeley Microbial Biologist Dr. Ignacio Chapela in attendance for a Q and A.

‘Symphony of the Soil’ Shines Light On What’s Gone Wrong

ZesterDaily piece by:

As “Symphony of the Soil,” the latest film written by Deborah Koons Garcia, points out, “One can go down thousands of years into the soil. Soil is the water and land having a dialogue. Soil is the interface of biology and geology. Soil is an ecosystem,  a living thing. As long as the soil remains healthy, the planet will be healthy.”

The Soul of the Soil

First in a three-part series on soil used to grow food crops.

To see “Symphony of the Soil” in your area, click here for a list of theaters.

In the 1970s, Garcia became a vegetarian. She also became a fanatic about good, clean food. She doesn’t eat white sugar, white flour or anything that isn’t organic. As she became educated about real food, she began to think about a film. What resulted were a number of films and then “The Future of Food,” a documentary that, among other things, deals head on with the issue of genetically modified organisms and the world of agriculture.

Symphony of Soil” does not focus on the agriculture world. It deals with deeper issues that affect the soil. Although the film is an overlay of facts, time-lapse photography, animated water colors and beautiful soothing music, the details are deeply disturbing. Here are some:

In the last 25 years, the biology of soil all over the world has been interrupted by antibiotics, herbicides and pesticides. Whereas soil used to be full of lively diverse microbes, in most places this is no longer the case. In the last 50 years we have destroyed the world’s topsoil. In order to rectify this situation, synthetic fertilizers are used to enrich the degraded soil, which only puts further stress on the soil and increases its vulnerability to pests. This causes farmers to use more pesticides, stronger pesticides and stronger herbicides. One-third of the world’s arable land has been lost to erosion.

Seventy percent of our freshwater is used for agriculture irrigation. And that resource is quickly dissipating at an unsustainable rate. Among the chemicals that causes the most concern is aminopyralid.


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Jacob Burns Nature Series Opening Night

Symphony of the Soil will kick off the Jacob Burns Nature Series

Wednesday September 25, 2013
405 Manville Road Pleasantville, NY 10570

Click here

“Focus on Nature 2013”

Opening Night at the Jacob Burns Center! Deborah Koons Garcia’s magnum opus on the extraordinarily complex web of life that exists in soil. Anything but ordinary, a handful of typical garden soil contains billions of organisms that interact in complex ways with water, atmosphere, plants, animals, and each other, underpinning the cycle of life. With fascinating contemporary thought and ancient knowledge from around the world, Garcia guides us to a new level of appreciation for this most essential resource.

Q&A and RECEPTION: Dan Barber, who appears in the film, is executive chef and co-owner of the restaurants Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns. He is a nationally known writer and speaker, working to bring the principles of good farming to the table. Producer/Director Deborah Koons Garcia last visited the JBFC with her 2004 feature, The Future of Food. Moderated by JBFC Executive Director Steve Apkon.

Join us after the program for a reception featuring food sourced from popular vendors from the Pleasantville Farmers Market. Wine generously donated by Wine Enthusiast.

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Symphony of the Soil in San Rafael

Symphony of the Soil will screen at The Smith Rafael Film Center as a special week long engagement.

Friday, September 27 to Wednesday, October 2
Fri, Sep 27 2013 – 6:30
Sat, Sep 28 2013 – 1:30
Sun, Sep 29 2013 – 1:30, 6:30
Mon, Sep 30 2013 – 6:30
Tue, Oct 1 2013 – 6:30
Wed, Oct 2 2013 – 6:30

Producer/Director Deborah Koons Garcia and Dr. Ignacio Chapela will be in attendance on Friday September 27th.

Tickets available at the Christopher Smith Rafael Film Center / The California Film Institute. Get your tickets here!
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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