When I started filming with farmers about their experiences with natural resource conservation, I noticed just how passionate they are about these practices. It was inspiring and humbling to see people with such knowledge and enthusiasm for their work.
Raymond Kelley is continuing a family tradition while bringing it into the present.
Adam Chappell is spreading the message of the soil biome.
P.J. Haynie is finding ways to put the culture in agriculture.
Margie Raymondo is healing with herbal remedies.
Richard White is finding his piece of peace.
The Peebles are making kids smile.
The Larimers are making kids.
Everyone can learn from these farmers. We can all benefit from the same things: tradition, purpose, culture, health, peace, joy and creativity. Finding these is a lifelong challenge. This search is part of being human.
While filming the documentary over the last year, I went through bouts of depression, which is not uncommon for me. It makes the work feel overwhelming, but it was worth it, even though it involved a lot of sweat and dirt. There is always a bright light found radiating from the farmers, a light that warms and inspires. This might seem like I’m romanticizing, but maybe there is something romantic about people so passionate about that world that lies beneath our feet.
This experience helped me realize my true passion. It isn’t documentary or even television. It’s learning about people and from people, and it’s spreading that knowledge as far and wide as possible. If you learn anything from this documentary, I hope it’s that the soil is a precious resource that must be conserved. Maybe you will also learn that there are people in Arkansas with such passion and purpose that their light radiates across the state. I hope you find that light in yourself, as well. I suggest going outside and getting a little dirty.
“Dirt” breaks through the surface to explore the living, breathing ecosystem beneath our world and what we can do to save our soil. Find out how Arkansas farmers, ranchers and more are improving their operations by helping the environment starting Thursday, Sept. 1.
“Dirt” premieres Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022.
About the author: Jennifer Gibson is a public affairs producer at Arkansas PBS. She has a bachelor's degree in social psychology and film from New York University and a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She lived in New York City for ten years, studying and working in television and film. She now resides in Little Rock with her two dogs and four chickens.