I recently attended a screening of an agricultural documentary film at a rural cafe and events space nestled in the Candover Valley - and here's my take on the experience.

Agriculture has always been of interest to me. My dad used to work on a farm and, growing up, we attended many country fairs which looked back at old techniques and ways of farming. Times were certainly different then, before regenerative farming had even been mentioned I expect.

The lovely people at The Yard recently invited me to attend a screening of 'Six Inches of Soil', with the focus of the film (more of a documentary) on farming practices and the damage they can do to the soil we farm and cultivate.

I got in my car and whizzed over for the evening showing, and was greeted warmly by the lovely staff at The Yard, tucked away just off the B3046 near Chilton Candover. I never knew there was a cafe and event space there, but as soon as I got there, I was impressed.

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The Yard is more than just a café, providing a cosy community space where culture and cuisine have a great opportunity to intersect. Whether it's intimate gatherings, lively concerts, a literacy event, workshops, or corporate events, The Yard transforms to meet the needs of its community.

I arrived and was offered a delicious dish of fresh food grown in the local area, and got myself a cup of tea followed by a well-deserved beer as I settled down for the screening.

The event was well-attended with more than 60 people taking their seats, grabbing their popcorn and drinks.

Hampshire Chronicle: Cows!Cows! (Image: Newsquest)

Directed by filmmaker Colin Ramsay and produced by Claire MacKenzie, Six Inches of Soil takes viewers on a journey into the world beneath our feet. Through insightful interviews, the film explores the vital role that soil plays in supporting life on Earth and the urgent need to protect that resource.

The film focused on three farmers based in different parts of the country, whose farming needs differed, from an allotment-style farm, an arable farm and a pastoral farm, all with different types of soil.

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It followed the farmers' journeys across a year and their aims to turn their farming styles regenerative, in a bid to offset the industry's negative impact towards the climate emergency.

The film gave a great explanation of how harsh overfarming of ground had contributed to draining soil of its health, which in turn can impact yields and the nutritional value of foods grown, which affects us as the consumers in shops and supermarkets.

I found the film to be a very interesting watch as the farmers involved looked at the pros and cons of turning their farming regenerative, plus the battle the industry faces to move towards a more sustainable way of farming. Part of the problem, which was explored in the film, was a reluctance by a lot of industry leaders to change their practices to a more sustainable course.

It explored the process needed to improve soil health and maintain high nutrient levels. This revolved around a low till model, meaning the ground is not turned up and releasing carbon, which is bad for the environment. 

It looked at using fewer pesticides and herbicides, instead using nature as a tool to stave off pests. It also explored symbiotic relationships between livestock, such as chickens and cows, which help to keep farmland maintained and high in nutrients, all while ensuring livestock enjoys the benefits of free-range living prior to being sent to the abattoir.

Overall, I thought the film was fascinating. Growing up, I had been told of the 'traditional' way of farming, which I think did not consider its effect on the ground and life living in and around it. It looks at the farming industry as a whole and showed a huge community grafting and trying its best to do its part in tackling the climate emergency, looking after the nature and farmland they own, all while trying to balance the books and make a living in a financially strained industry.

I'll be honest - I was hooked. I thought the film was very clear and concise in the message it was trying to get across, engaging the viewer and showing the struggles that the rural community faces year on year. 

After the film, its producer, Claire Mackenzie was joined on stage by Andy Bason, Lawrence Fannon and Charlie Cheyney, three local growers and farmers to discuss regenerative farming, taking questions from the audience on a range of agriculture topics. 

It was good fun, and tucked away in The Yard, I felt rather cosy and comfortable, and would happily attend again for another screening, be that a farming documentary or something fictional.

Six Inches of Soil is a great watch, and The Yard is a beautiful place to visit, whether that's for an event, or purely for a coffee and a bit of cake. I would highly recommend a visit, particularly if you get a chance to see a showing of regenerative farming. You never know - you might come away feeling rather inspired.