The Need to Grow (2019) - full transcript

The Need To GROW follows pioneers of cutting edge technology as they fight to localize sustainable food systems and regenerate Earth's dying soils.

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(soft intriguing music)

(soft poignant music)

- Things grow at exponential rates.

They're not linear.

And if they're going to fail,

they fail exponentially
as well and collapse.

Our top priority right
now is to repair the soil.

Can't go on that way.

We'll all just wind up dying.

- [Man] If we stay on our course,

you know, we could look at
a worldwide catastrophe.



- [Woman] In the United States,

we're losing soil at 10 times the rate

it takes to regenerate it.

- [Man] We have plenty of civilizations

over the course of the course of time

that didn't get that right.

And so our challenge
is how do we make sure

that we're not one of 'em?

- [Michael] We're still in
kind of an extraction mentality

where it's what it costs us
to bring it out of the earth.

It's not what the earth
has paid to get it in.

We need to start shifting

from a death-based or a
harvest-based mentality

into a life-based economy.



- [Woman] Industrial agriculture says

we have to go with
these machine-intensive,

chemical-intensive means of producing food

and that is a false dichotomy.

- [Vandana] The more you
care for biodiversity,

the more you care for the soil,

the more food you actually grow.

- [Man] The issue we're facing right now

is two different futures.

- [Man] You cannot feed
the world from dead soil.

- [Man] Then the ecosystem
begins to unravel.

- Things are collapsing everywhere.

Food essentially has no
nutrients in it these days.

- [Man] People know that
it's hurting people.

People know that it's
harming the environment

and they do it anyway.

- [Man] We gotta stop
focusing on the problem

and start focusing on the solution.

- [Man] Not one single solution

that's gonna solve every problem,

but many many small solutions

that collectively will actually
lead to a societal shift.

- [Man] But it takes
the will of the people

and I think that time is coming.

I think that time is coming.

- It didn't take very long
for us to tear the soil apart,

to tear it down.

We need a equal solution,

the inverse of that to
build it back up again.

So what we've tried to do here is to take

natural biological processes

and accelerate the regeneration of soil.

Something that would normally take decades

or a few hundred years,

we can do in a matter of hours or days.

(soft pensive music)

(birds chirping)

(rhythmic intriguing music)

- [Rosario] Agriculture
is the most destructive

human activity on the planet.

Can we feed the world
without destroying it?

The difference between death and life,

between extinction and abundance

is the difference between dirt and soil.

Just a handful of healthy soil
contains more microorganisms

than there are people on the planet.

The entire food chain
and our very existence

is made possible by
billions of tiny creatures

coexisting right under our feet:

complexities of galactic proportions.

(soft intriguing music)

Since the dawn of agriculture
some 10,000 years ago,

the simple act of tilling our land

has been disruptive to fragile soil life,

it's ability to hold water

and turning soil carbon into
atmospheric carbon dioxide.

With the invention of machinery
and powerful new chemicals,

industrial agriculture has exponentially

exacerbated the issue.

Roughly 30 soccer fields worth of soil

are lost every single minute.

Today, 70% of our planets soils
have already been destroyed.

At this rate, the earth
runs out of farmable soil

in a mere 60 years.

Without soil, all ecosystems

outside of our oceans become impossible.

We can either wake up before it's too late

or guarantee a path to consistent drought,

extreme food scarcity and
catastrophic climate change.

Is our only option a system
with a built-in expiration date

or will we acknowledge our
responsibility to this planet

and uphold our debt to future generations?

(soft intriguing music)

(birds chirping)

(soft piano music)

- When I grow up, I wanna
try to get a big backyard.

Then I can plant like almost
like every fruit and vegetable.

Maybe I'll get a huge fig tree.

I drew it in my journal.

Then I can tell my sisters

and then they'll be kinda like me.

And then they'll start growing

like a garden in their backyard. (giggles)

- Okay, I need you to sit
nicely and finish your smoothie.

I've got four kids.

- No!

- Make sure you make 'em
so we're not late, okay?

Can he do anything else?

After seeing all the sugar
being dished out to them,

and that's kinda where my path started

was the abundance of sugar.

And once I learned about that,

it ended up leading to all
kinds of different things.

It was like a snowball effect.

(audience applauding)

- It's pretty cool to help people

see what's happening to
the world and help them,

help make a change in the world.

You should really start
thinkin' 'bout what you eat.

I'm gonna keep telling people to help

and they'll tell other people.

Hopefully soon the planet will change

to gardens and healthy people

and it will be a better place.

(soft gentle music)

(girl shouting)

- [Monica] Wipe your place
and then we gotta go.

(girl shrieking)
(door slamming)

Who's taking the compost today?

- Can we play with the wheels?
- Get in, buckle up. Okay.

(children muttering)

- She wants us to be healthy
so we can be more active,

we can do sports better
and we can think better.

(singer vocalizing)

- [Monica] So I figured
the best place to start

was where this comes from.

- When I saw one, a seed
grows to a giant plant

I thought it was pretty fascinating.

Some people just don't
get how fun gardening is.

They think TV is way more important

than what we're doing now.

People should really learn about

how to help your community
and help yourself and live.

(soft cheerful music)
(singer vocalizing)

- It's important because
then everyone will know

where their food comes
from and how things grow

'cause normally you don't really see it.

(soft serene music)

- These farms here are what
we're planning to build

the next scalable step-on.

The idea that you can grow

100% organic nutrient dense
food at warp speed basically

over cement or man-made
surfaces is what I feel

is going to be a really amazing shift

in the way we perform agriculture

within a densely-packed urban environment.

Waste is not an option

and that's got to be a
mantra that we all adopt.

- This is Alicia.
- Who's this?

- Hi.

- Wow, where'd you get such a nice smile?

(Alicia giggling)

- We wanted to take a look
and find out a little bit more

about what you got going on here.

- Well, fantastic.

Come on, let's go over

and we'll check out some vertical towers.

You could put about 40
plants in two square feet.

Extremely resource-efficient,
90% less water,

50% less fertilizer.

Now let's go over here and lemme show you

one of my monster beets.

This one's tryin' to escape.

It's breaking itself outta the pot.

Strawberries go really
good in these towers.

- Yummy, I love strawberries.

- And you're gonna taste
a piece of lettuce.

I'll bet you never tasted
lettuce that tastes like this

and I'm gonna show you
something special about it.

Here's the secret:

When I pull a piece of lettuce,

see the white milk in there?

- [Monica] Mm-hmm.

- [Erik] I want you to just taste it.

Okay, most people wouldn't
even eat lettuce like this

and look at all the milk
that's drippin' off of that.

So that milk generally
disappears in about 24 hours.

- Really?
- Yeah.

If you're not eating
lettuce within 24 hours,

you're missing a huge part
of the antioxidant load

that this lettuce carries.

Even though we came from a
powered up hydroponic background,

we started looking at soils in
a completely different light.

(soft intriguing music)

The more we study them, the more we know.

Life as we know it actually comes from it.

(soft intriguing music)
(birds chirping)

- We are here today because
of very smart choices

on the evolutionary path

and we are born from the
soil that gives us life.

All of our food comes from the soil.

And so when we begin to destroy
the biology of the soil,

we destroy the food
networks that give us life.

And this is where we face an
unprecedented circumstance.

- You go in and kill the soil,
you kill off the earthworms.

You kill the biota of the soil, right?

That soil's dead.

All it's good for is whooshing
out to the Gulf of Mexico.

That's all it's good for
unless you go back in,

re-mulch the soil, reinvigorate
the soil with biota,

with life, then you have a
soil that can produce food.

- Building soil, building living soil

is the highest actually to
human beings can be in nature.

- We can actually take you know

and store atmospheric carbon in the soil.

We know that that can be done.

It's physics.

We just have to create the conditions

for the soil to absorb it, right?

And there's all kinds of ways to do that.

- [Rosario] Over the last century,

our farmers have been encouraged

to rely on unsustainable synthetic inputs,

gaining short-term boost in production

at a major cost to soil longevity.

When combined with mono-cropping
and repeated tilling,

biodiversity's all but eliminated,

eventually leaving nothing but dead dirt.

This degradation accelerates erosion

as lifeless dust is blown
away and washed downstream.

In the US, we're losing
soil 10 times faster

than it could be naturally replenished.

However in the longest study of its kind

after more than 30 years,

organic agriculture has proven to match

or surpass conventional yields,

emit 35% fewer greenhouse gases,

use 45% less energy and build
soil rather than deplete it.

Studies show that the more soil health

is holistically managed, the
more food is actually grown.

A strategy called no-till farming

minimally disturbs fragile soil microbes,

while cover crops are year-long plants

which shield the ground

rather than leaving it
exposed to the elements.

No-till, cover crops and
composting all help retain water

and generate more
carbon-rich soil every year.

These methods increase humic substances,

one of the most important
indicators of healthy soil.

Humic substances are a critical component

of decomposing organic matter,

supporting the flow of
essential plant nutrients

in soil structure.

A healthy tablespoon of soil

contains an astonishing
six billion microorganisms.

Tens of thousands of different species

each playing a vital role in
a cosmic microbial ecosystem.

Fungal mycelium networks

act like a vast underground internet,

transporting nutrients, water, carbon

and creating a stable structure
which prevents erosion.

With only a 1% increase in organic matter,

soils hold an additional 25,000
gallons of water per acre,

reducing the risk of
both drought and flood.

When plants absorb CO2,

carbon is fed to microbes
through the roots

as a storage container for what
was once atmospheric carbon.

Enough healthy soil could offset

virtually all greenhouse
gases on the planet.

These principles working in harmony

are known as regenerative agriculture.

By creating a more resilient
and nutrient-dense food system,

regenerative agriculture
can not only feed the world,

but may be the planet's only hope

to actively reverse climate change.

Like nothing else, increasing
the health of our soils

simultaneously addresses nearly all

other environmental issues.

- Just how

beautiful that soil is.

This stuff will grow anything.

- [Monica] It all boils down to the soil.

- [Erik] Yeah and what
microbes are working the soil.

You have to start thinking
about feeding the soil.

- Right.
- Not feeding the plant.

- It's something that I
never really thought about.

Had I gone out and planted something,

I would've scooped up some dirt,

reseeded and called it a day.

So to see how complex the soil is

and how important it is
to have a nutritious soil.

(soft serene music)

- You can see right over
there, you hear the tractors?

- Yeah.

- We're surrounded by development.

And so what's happening
is our land is goin' away.

Now Soxx system can be
deployed over the ground

on manmade services and put
this beautiful soil in here

and grow fully-organic,
super nutrient-rich food.

70% less water, 2 1/2 times faster growth,

50% less fertilizer and over
land that nobody's using.

I mean, there's nothin' about
that that doesn't make sense.

And that to me is the paradigm
shift in urban agriculture.

(soft serene music)
(birds chirping)

The question is when's
it gonna go mainstream?

- Where does your passion
for this come from?

- Well

as an old organic biochemist,

I've always been curious
as to how can we maximize

the plant's genetic potential?

So we've had a few anomalies
in this farm lately.

We've been using all of our vermicompost

and we've been experimenting
with our soils.

This blue kale here used to be this size.

It used to be one of these.

They were all planted at the same time.

This thing just found
nirvana down in the soil.

I mean, it's just an
insanely healthy kale plant.

Imagine if all of a sudden our soil blends

could start producing crops
that were of this scale.

This stuff is just spectacular

in getting the nutrition it needs.

And it's not happening everywhere,

but it's happening
enough for us to realize

that there is a secret here
that we've gotta unlock.

- I been working with Erik
Cutter at Alegría Farms.

He had brought me on board
as a soil consultant.

I was bringin' him the
rarest resource materials

that plants don't create by themselves.

Some mycorrhizae, some biochar.

Something that he's like, "Biochar?

"Where'd you get the biochar in Montana?"

And he said, "How is Montana?"

And I said, "I went to this place

"called the Green Power House

"and I met this man Michael
Smith who's amazing.

"He's brilliant."

I knew it was just technology
that was cutting edge.

It's like a liquid biochar
with some humic acid

and that's what plants need.

They need a transporter
and they needed the carbon,

a little air and we have a healthy plant.

So I gave Erik a sample.

And within 24 hours he called me

because a plant had
changed color in 45 minutes

after he applied this byproduct
at this energy facility,

the Green Power House.

He said, "I have to go
to Montana immediately.

"Book some airfare."

(soft serene music)

(birds chirping)

- When I was four years old,

I did have a severe car
accident in front of my house.

My brothers were getting
onto the school bus.

I was very excited about
them going to school.

And I ran across the
street in front of a car

that should've stopped for the bus,

but it hit me about 40 miles an hour

and just knocked me outta my shoes.

The driver of the vehicle was uncertain

that I was gonna live, but
fortunately he was a doctor.

So I have this sort of good
news, bad news kind of a life.

You know, what do you want?

You want me dead or do you
want me alive, you know?

He knew exactly what to do afterwards

and I believe that saved my life.

After that, I didn't
know who my parents were.

It took me a long time to
relearn everything that I knew.

Diane thinks I'm a walk-in
from another world. (chuckles)

- Imagine how smart he would be

had he not been hit by the car?

- Yeah.

- Or did that make him smarter? (chuckles)

- I don't necessarily
see myself as that smart.

That's the problem.

(soft soothing music)

I got a chance to work
with Walt Disney Studios.

I worked with NASA.

We worked with the FBI.

We remastered Pink Floyd's
"The Dark Side of the Moon."

We actually captured and digitized

some of the Beatles stuff.

I like to say that I was
one of the first pioneers

in 3D printing long before 3D
printers were known as such.

I was working with The Dire
Straits on a music video

called "Money for Nothing."

I worked with physics engines
that are used in video games.

Games like FIFA and Madden,
Grand Theft Auto and Halo.

We tried to introduce
more natural behaviors

into character animations,

which involved a lot of
artificial intelligence.

And I was offered the job at Lucas Arts,

but they required that I live
and stay in San Francisco.

I thought well gee, I value my freedom.

There's no job here

for somebody doing artificial
intelligence research.

I thought well, I can
apply technology to biology

and we can have dynamic systems

that are controlled completely natural.

'Cause we're not doing
anything like GMOing

or modifying the species.

Rather than treating a character in a game

as the main component,

we thought well maybe we could
use algae as a character.

Turned down George Lucas.

I don't know if that
was the best decision,

but it was a decision.

(soft soothing music)

- [Woman] All checked in carry-on luggage

is subject to search.

- You and I are gonna have some talks.

Well I've done some
testing behind your back.

Well I compared it

to some of the best
root enhancement mediums

and there's some compounds in
that that are quite different.

We're an energy company too.

Food is energy,

so I had the same problem
you do with saying,

"Can we scale and who's
gonna stop us from scaling?"

Big-picture concerns that down the road

big ag's gonna pound on me and say,

"Yeah, that's just gettin' a little bit

"outta hand right there."

I mean, how do we hide out in Montana

and all these niche areas
that'll defend our power plants

and we can distribute the power

without getting you know, squashed?

'Cause we're all about takin' it back.

(soft guitar music)

(soft soothing music)

This new compound that's comin'
off the Green Power House

is a very powerful root stimulator,

which means that it's a very
powerful, natural fertilizer,

so this oughta be fun.

Here we are.

Look at this.

Look at that power plant.

Wow, middle of Montana.

Who would guess?

The Biodome, wow.

All right, I already want one.

- I believe it's a game-changer.

What the algae and the biochar together do

is literally rejuvenate,
revitalize and remake soil

and I cannot emphasize
enough how important that is.

So Michael Smith, this is Erik Cutter.

- Erik Cutter.
- Hi, pleased to meet you.

- Pleased to meet you as well.

- I'm a biochemist and
oncologist by training.

I grow food and I'm a chef.

And so I started playin'
around with this stuff

and I called Ken and said,

"Ken, where'd you get this stuff?"

- Really?
- Oh my gosh.

- [Robin] Michael is an
extraordinary visionary.

He was the visionary behind the company,

even though it had several founders.

- We discovered that
the waste usually occurs

when you short circuit natural processes.

You take carbon where
it does the most good

and you put it where it
does the most damage.

You know, the rate that we're
pushing the carbon dioxide

into the atmosphere just overwhelms

the planet's ability to capture it.

'Cause we're trying to emulate

something that nature is doing

and nature is inherently complex.

You realize that there's
a billion microbes

in this piece of soil the
size of your little finger.

- Oh yeah.
- And we think we know it all.

I mean we can go to the moon,

but we have no idea what's goin' on

with those billion microbes.
- And what we're doing now,

of course they're killing
those microbes in the soil.

- And we don't even
know what we're killing

and what ratios we're offsetting.

- It's one of the battles
that we're fighting

against standard fertilizing concepts.

- Right.

- You know if I were to
start a fertilizer company

and I wanted just to maximize my profits

and didn't care about anything else,

what a great strategy, right?

You put it on one year,
you get a good growth.

The next year, the growth's not so good

so you have to add a little more.

And then you add a little more

and pretty soon you've
completely destroyed your soil.

So we discovered how can we integrate

these components together

to bring those cycles
back into balance again?

Well the answer's been
with us forever, right?

All we had to do was open
our eyes and look around.

(reverent organ music)
- [Erik] Why don't we go in

and see what you guys have created?

- And we'll go talk to the dragon.

- [Rosario] What Michael calls the dragon

is a state-of-the-art pyrolysis machine.

When biomass like wood
waste enters the dragon,

it's heated close to
1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

The absence of oxygen prevents combustion,

leaving behind a stable carbon structure

similar to charcoal.

The extracted energy runs the entire

Green Power House off-grid

while creating enough excess electricity

to meet the needs of roughly 100 homes.

It would take over three
acres of solar panels

to accomplish this.

- So the electricity is
not our main product.

We call that our waste byproduct.

- Utility companies are
gonna love that one.

Our waste byproduct's electricity.

- This 9,000 year old technology
is to make this biochar.

Our ancestors knew how to do
this to fertilize the soil

and we just reformatted
it for the 21st century.

It's pores within pores within pores.

- [Rosario] Biochar is a form
of extremely stable carbon

with exponential pores
creating massive surface area

in a tiny space.

Just a two inch piece
of biochar, if unfolded,

would have the surface area
the size of a football field.

This structure is an
optimal breeding ground

for beneficial soil microbes,

holding both water and nutrients

where plant roots need them most.

- It also creates space for air to get in

for microbes to get in.
- And the soil microbes.

- Wow, amazing.
- So all that stuff to me

is an essential component to the web.

Gets recreated.

You're putting back into
the soil the infrastructure

for soil regeneration.

- [Rosario] Without the dragon,

this waste would end up in a landfill

releasing greenhouse
gases as it decomposed.

Instead, biochar locks the
stable carbon back underground

for hundreds or even thousands of years.

The biochar is emerging

as one of the planet's best
solutions to climate change.

One Green Power House or GPH

stabilizes over one ton
of carbon every day.

It takes roughly 50,000
trees to do the same.

- You're fixing carbon.
- I'm fixing carbon.

- Pullin' it outta the atmosphere

and putting it back to where it belongs.

- Two billion years of
engineering experience. (chuckles)

We include the algae into that.

So I mentioned the liquid prairie.

(soft soothing music)

The heat necessary to operate this

comes from the breakdown
of the wood waste.

- That's amazing, I love that.

I'm learning a lot here.

A lot.

This is actually seriously exciting

how you're takin' all these
natural systems and linking 'em.

Hoo, look at this place.

Don't fall in.

- [Michael] Algae is one of the primary

organic material generators

on the surface of the planet
and it operates very fast.

So the fact that we can
take carbon dioxide,

we can take water and we can take sunlight

and we can create biomass from it

is a big boon to this
concept of generating soil

because that's the way it's
been done for millions of years.

All we've figured out how to do

is take that and accelerate it.

- [Rosario] Continuously-fed
CO2 from the dragon,

rapidly-growing algae
is harvested every day.

Through biodigestion, algae is converted

to a nutrient-rich organic fertilizer

to be combined with biochar,

creating a powerful soil rejuvenator.

Methane, a byproduct of algae digestion,

is sent back to the dragon to
heat and process more waste,

completing the cycle.

In each element of the Green Power House,

the output of one becomes
the input of another,

a true closed-loop system.

- [Michael] Yeah

and the algae tells us
what it needs, right?

So we have this sorta
self-regulating system

that algae's been sucking up nitrogen

as well as carbon dioxide.

- So it's nutrient-rich big time.

- Yeah, I mean and it's high in energy.

Well few people know this,

but algae's higher in
energy than coal per pound.

- Really?

- So when we pull that energy
outta there, we digest this.

We're left with a really
compact nutrient substrate

that we can then use as
part of our soil amendment.

So in about four or five days,

we can do what normally a normal digestor

will do in about a month.

- So you actually put an efficiency

on a already-known efficiency.

So you're gonna get humic substances

outta this as a byproduct.

What would it take in
nature for that to occur?

- Well if you include the
carbon from the carbon engine,

you know that's hundreds of years.

- Okay, so you're doing
in four to five days

what nature would take--

- In about 400 years.

- 400 years.
- Yeah.

- Wow (chuckles), that's pretty amazing.

- So you know, we don't
wanna it push too hard.

But the idea is we create the environment

and you monitor the environment

and you accelerate the
processes naturally.

- Don't wanna push it too hard.

Four to five days versus 400.

- (chuckles) Yes.

(soft serene music)

- Wow.

I'm up here because I
have a similar conundrum

that you guys have.

I see this power plant as an
amazing opportunity to scale

and to actually change the way we live

and go back to natural
processes that are zero waste.

That's why I worry about this.

I think you got a game-changer here.

You're gonna have a lotta pushback

and you're all of a sudden
takin' on everybody.

The entire energy world
is now looking at you

saying, "Okay, do we let this
technology exist or not?"

- Yeah.

- I think what you guys are doing

probably could be one of the
greatest empowering tools

that we've seen 'cause you
got all the different things

that you're able to create with this.

That's why I worry about
it gettin' you know,

squashed before it gets out.

(soft guitar music)

- After World War II,

there was an excess of
bomb-making material

which was turned into fertilizer,

an excess of nerve gas which
was turned into pesticides.

So the military industrial complex

moved into the agricultural
industrial complex

and forced a model of chemical dependency.

- Industrial agriculture
in my point of view

is first and foremost
a war against the earth

because it is a war against all species

since you're bringing more
chemicals into food production

and all they're doing is killing.

- Putting chemicals onto the soil:

nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium

and trying to backfill with
some of the micronutrients,

trying to do that, we in essence
kill the life in the soil.

(soft intriguing music)

- When we denature soils
by removing their biology,

then we are really taking a step back

hundreds of millions of years in time.

- It is a war against every citizen.

Because food that comes
out of that kind of war,

economy and war production
is loaded with poisons

which then give us the
epidemics of cancer,

of allergies, of everything
else that's going wrong

because of a toxic, imbalanced diet.

- Because we now have
a vast array of toxins

that we have in our body

and we are a reflection of the
environment in which we live,

we're now trying to adapt to
suddenly influxes of toxins

that have heretofore been unprecedented.

- The United States
Department of Agriculture

practically a Washington
office for Monsanto,

has in their research
over 14 years has shown

there has been no significant increase

in yield because of GMOs.

The idea, the sheer audacity of the idea

that we can fight nature
is dead on arrival.

We cannot fight nature.

You cannot blow things up or poison things

to the extent that where you "win."

- I think people around
the country have realized

that the FDA and the USDA

are not gonna fix their food system;

that they actually have
to do it themselves.

It's a challenge to live in a world

where our government cannot
be counted on to defend us

from an industrial food system

that's actually making us sick.

(soft intriguing music)

- [Rosario] 44 billion pounds
of chemical fertilizers

are used each year.

Synthetic fertilizers
disrupt the soil's balance

of microbes, beneficial
fungus and organic matter.

As biodiversity decreases,

more fertilizers are required
to achieve similar results.

Now pesticides and herbicides must be used

to fight off weeds and bugs
that would normally be handled

by a healthy ecosystem.

Up to 50% of nitrogen fertilizers

are washed away with rain
and irrigation water,

a drastic pollution leading
to an ocean dead zone

the size of New Jersey.

Contributing to dead zones
are animal factory farms,

(cow mooing)

easily the most pollutive
activity on the planet.

In the US, more than
1/3 of our fossil fuels,

1/2 of all water and 80% of our farmland

is used in the raising of animals

and the grain to feed them.

Most of these grains are
genetically modified organisms.

Over 80% of GMOs are
specifically engineered

to withstand higher doses

of a powerful chemical called glyphosate,

which the state of California

has officially labeled as carcinogenic.

The use of glyphosate has
risen 10,000% since 1974.

Independent studies confirm contamination

of our food, air and even our rainwater

while extremely low doses have been shown

to cause liver and kidney damage,

with correlation to a host
of other side effects.

In spite of public outcry,

the USDA, FDA and EPA require no testing

for the pollution of this
chemical in our food supply.

The philosophy of using
GMOs and glyphosate

is one of sterilization:

Kill everything except the crop,

the exact opposite of farming in ways

which regenerate soil and biodiversity.

- [Reporter] A worldwide rally

against genetically
modified food giant Monsanto

is being held across the globe.

- [Woman] The first speaker
is the youngest activist

in Orange County right now.

- [Reporter] Activists
are protesting the use

of potentially harmful
chemicals in food production,

something Monsanto says is the only way

to feed the globe's growing population.

- [Woman] We'll petition the Girl Scouts

for GMO-free cookies.

(crowd cheering)
- Sign up the new

Girl Scouts of America.

Let's show the world what
these cookies can really do.

- [Interviewer] I told
you I had a special guest,

Alicia Serratos.

Alicia, how old are you?

- Seven.

- There was a newspaper article about it

and that we weren't selling cookies.

So then, that's when the
council contacted me and said,

"Hey, let's discuss alternate
ideas for fundraising."

Like this is awesome, we did it, you know?

It was like literally an ambush.

They had no intention of
hearing any of our ideas.

It was support and promote or step down.

I felt betrayed.

Here I had put so much time
into it and now they're saying,

"Sell the cookies or you're done."

- Dear Anna Marie Chavez, please
make cookies without GMOs.

Whoever signed my petition, thank you.

- So you're trying to remove
GMOs from Girl Scout cookies

and you've got a petition
of 10,000 signatures.

- 15,000 signatures!

21,000 signatures.

It's been a year and a
half and with your help,

we have 30,000 signatures!

♪ Bum bum bum ♪

- A box of Girl Scout cookies
is not a political statement.

It is an investment in
a girl and her dreams

and in your local communities

and in the leadership of tomorrow.

♪ Hey hey ♪

♪ Ho ho ♪

♪ GMOs have got to go ♪

♪ Hey hey ♪

(soft intriguing music)

- Part of making this farm a success

is to try to get enough revenue in here

to prove that a farm like this

can support two or three
young men workin' on it.

And so we're struggling to
find a way to make that work.

(soft intriguing music)

It's very easy to grow food.

It's not easy to grow superior food

and very nutrient-dense food

because you have to
treat the soil properly.

But it's very easy to grow food.

And of course, there's
always been an influx of food

from all over the planet,
which we're competing with,

that was being flown in, you know,

from 1,500 to 5,000 miles away every day.

So for a small micro-farm
like ours to compete,

we have to be very special.

(soft intriguing music)

Our total route right
now is centered around

a radius of about 10 miles.

From harvest to the time
everything's delivered

took about one hour,

truly farm-to-table in minutes.

- You would think that
it's such an important part

of everyone's daily life
experience that you would think

that people would actually
care about what they eat.

Not only do they not know
where their food comes from,

but they don't really
care that much about it.

They don't think about it.

The trick is, the challenge is

to not only find resilient ways of farming

that build soil as opposed
to depleting the soil,

that result in water stewardship
and land stewardship,

but that also have an economic return.

If consumers don't actually make purchases

based upon their values,

then these sustainable farming practices

are gonna disappear.

If these farms can't survive,
then consumers will have

no opportunity to buy anything
based upon their values.

They'll simply have to buy

what the industrial
food system gives them.

(soft intriguing music)

- [Rosario] Roughly 2,800 calories

for every human being on the planet

are produced every single day,

more than enough to feed
the world right now.

What we have is a distribution problem.

The average bite of food
travels over 1,500 miles

to make it to your grocery store.

Yet history shows in times of need,

we can effectively localize our food.

During Word War II, 20
million home gardens

produced 40% of the nation's food.

(soft intriguing music)

Today, demand for local
food is on the rise.

US Farmers Markets have
more than quadrupled

in the last 20 years.

Every effort, big or
small, to localize food

in regenerative urban farms, school

and community gardens or your own backyard

helps displace our reliance

on destructive industrial agriculture.

Even new technologies like
indoor vertical farming

help reduce our soil-sabotaging footprint.

Yet instead of supporting these efforts,

30 billion tax dollars artificially
lower the price of food

grown in centralized, monocropped,

synthetically-fertilized toxic soils,

contributing to an estimated
three trillion dollars

of environmental damage every single year.

We pick food before it's ripe,
ship it all over the world,

and eventually a nutrient-depleted,
contaminated product

makes it to our plate.

- When people ask me about
how to fix our food system,

they always say, "You
know, where is the center

"for this whole new food
movement in the United States?"

and I always say (chuckles),
"There isn't a center.

"It's happening everywhere
at the same time."

And they said, "Well who is the
figurehead of the movement?"

And I always say, "There is no figurehead.

"Because if you're talking
about fixin' our food system

"by makin' it more local, the figurehead,

"the great leader is that
person in your community."

(soft chime music)
(birds chirping)

- All-in-all, we've now come to the point

after a little over two years

that we have a farm
that's been proven out,

that actually could support three jobs,

that is now actually growing.

I mean, our revenues are starting to grow.

The restaurants around here
are startin' to take notice

so I feel like we
finally hit critical mass

and the critical mass was build it

and they will come for sure,
but you gotta build it.

(soft serene music)

We still don't have a guarantee
on how long we'll be here,

but it's allowed us a
chance to light that fire.

I believe that we needed
to light a small fire

and I think this is a
very hot, small fire.

- [Reporter] One Orange County farmer

may have found the farm of the future.

Can you describe the
taste of that spinach?

- So much flavor.

So much flavor.

Night and day from the bad stuff.

- [Reporter] Really?

- I've never tasted
anything like it before.

I'm being perfectly honest

and the best strawberry I've ever tasted.

- Wow.
- Okay.

(soft futuristic music)

- [Announcer] HyperSpace
is a data visualization

that allows you to be
involved in the creation

and translation of your design concepts.

The HyperSpace model uses a style.

- Actual units of HyperSpace Digitizing.

(chuckles softly) The GPH
is an eight-sided thing.

This is a six-sided thing,

so we're very much into sacred geometry.

The application for the HyperSpace model,

they were really vast.

It eventually evolved
into medical applications

creating models that were
more organic-looking,

rather than things that were robotic.

Everybody was using computers

at that time to build spaceships.

And hardly ever you would
see you know, a human heart.

It was kind of an interesting time

in the old days.

(soft soothing music)

- He's figured out a way to write code

to talk to nature to have nature tell him

as a system operator what it means

to maximize its gift to us.

I mean, it's brilliant.

It's absolutely brilliant.

And so he's harnessing what nature's doing

and you know, he laughs about
it because he's so brilliant.

- Basically all we have to do

is emulate natural systems
here and we can accelerate 'em.

So everything we're doing with
the sequester of the carbon,

with the digestion of the algae,

those are all natural processes
that are in a closed loop

and all we've done is figure
out a way to accelerate it.

- I think it's the unique thing.

What I don't see in all the projects

is they don't close the loop.

- [Michael] Nobody closes
the loop with the exhausts

and everything recycling, going back in.

- Carbon is our friend.

There's nothing wrong with carbon.

It's in what form it's in
is what causes the problems

all the way across the spectrum.

You know, Michael's
brilliant on that stuff.

- He just has an extraordinary ability

to synthesize information

from a variety of industries if you will,

agriculture and technology

and bring 'em together in new ways.

He's incredibly talented at that.

He's I think one of the best there is

and the Power House is
a demonstration of that.

- We will either save ourselves

with stuff like this or we won't.

And if we don't, we
don't deserve to be here.

(soft intriguing music)

- Half of this I believe

has been just downloaded into Michael

and it's bigger than any one of us.

- Michael's a unique individual.

We even had people come here

that wanted to look at the process.

They'd call him the mad scientist.

People ride by here and I'll bet his,

you couldn't even guess
what's goin' on in there.

He goes, "I was thinkin'
on the way here, Chuck."

I go, "I can tell that." (chuckles)

So you can tell when people's gears turn.

He's doin' multiple gears at a time.

- When you take a walk in the woods,

we watch nature's processes
of what's going on

and then you walk through
those doors, you know.

- This is where I say,
"Welcome to Jurassic Park."

- It's pretty amazing actually.

It's pretty amazing.

It's basically what we're here
to do is to work with nature.

I'm not quite sure nature
had a partner like that

of anybody listening.

- [Rosario] The Green Power House requires

almost no additional input
outside of what is already

being sent to landfills
in astronomical amounts.

The GPH maintains an
indoor tropical climate,

even growing bananas and pineapples

while Montana winters reach
as low as -20 degrees outside,

providing a half acre
of vertical grow space.

Plants can thrive in virtually
any region on the planet.

Beyond powering 100 homes,
the GPH's excess energy

can support dozens of
additional greenhouses.

Now imagine GPHs all over the world

processing waste to power communities,

providing fresh local food,
reversing climate change

and regenerating soil in
virtually any environment.

- We're disrupting, which
is kind of a scary concept,

but they're disrupting
food, fuel and fertilizer

all in one little powerhouse, which to me,

represents the ultimate
paradigm shift in agriculture.

I mean imagine now if these
powerhouses could supply

local communities with 50, 60
greenhouses worth of produce

and they're all off-grid and
they're all carbon negative.

I mean it just completely
changes the way everything works.

It ultimately leads to
energy independence,

food security, food independence.

I mean we the people
are now taking it back

and I think that's an
exciting proposition.

(soft serene music)

(birds chirping)

We just heard a rumor that
there is a possibility

that we might lose our farm.

There's some talk about
possibly putting in

some ice skating rinks or
developing this area here

and that would be a real shame.

We just got it to the
point where it's working

and spent a lotta money in
quite a few years building it

and designing it.

I hope it doesn't happen,

but it happens a lot around here.

So it's probably one of
the greatest problems

that farmers face is that
land is too expensive

for them to buy and so you're
not sure whether or not

you're gonna be moved off next
year, next month or whatever.

So it's very hard where
farmers are trying to grow food

on land that they don't own.

The city would make the call,

raise the priority to develop you know,

more access to local food or
is it to build more condos?

And 'course in Orange County,

we've seen the answer to
that story very clearly.

It's build more condos.

So we're sitting on pins
and needles right now.

We're not sure what's
gonna happen to our farm.

(soft serene music)

Well I've always grown my own food.

When I first started the Alegria Farm,

I started it here actually at the house.

I had 22 vertical towers here
stacked all over the house.

We were raised on just
amazingly fresh food.

My mother was the one who always taught me

that food was medicine.

And back then, I mean you
know when you look back,

you realize that our food supply

actually hadn't been quite
so tainted 40 years ago.

So that's part of what's goin' on now

is that we are dealing
with much poorer soils

than we had 40 years ago

and hence the decrease
in quality of the food.

- A soil is not inert.

It is a living colony,
so complex organisms.

And as we lose habitats,
biodiversity will go below

the threshold heretofore not yet known

where then the ecosystem
begins to unravel.

- When you're deeply aware

of how the bees and the butterflies

are vital for your pollination,

when you're deeply aware

of how many soil organisms feed us,

you don't spray poisons that'll kill them.

- You can kick the can down the road

and you can put off those external costs,

which is what they're called;

costs that aren't factored into

the price that you see in the shelf.

You can push those external
costs down the road.

But ultimately, that can comes to a stop.

These are nontrivial impacts

of the real costs of cheap food.

- We produce all that
food, we get at the market.

We go in, we buy it, we take it home,

we refrigerate it until we throw it away.

And we throw it away rather
than putting it in compost.

I mean at least we put it into compost,

you know, we could
ameliorate some of that.

It's almost a sin.

(soft intriguing music)

- [Rosario] Over 97% of food
waste ends up in landfills,

disconnecting the soil's
natural nutrient cycle.

Millions of tons of
organic matter rotting away

emitting greenhouse gases

like CO2, methane and nitrous oxide.

But what if something we
literally treat as trash

became one of the planet's

most applicable resource solutions?

Composting can turn that
food waste into new soil

but less than 3% of this
resource is currently being used.

With backyard compost piles

or utilizing your city's
green waste collection,

anyone and everyone can participate

to help store huge
amounts of water, carbon

and returning vital nutrients to our soils

without the use of chemical fertilizers.

- Recycling's been taken
place for a lotta years.

People know about
recycling an aluminum can.

But when I was just a little girl,

my father told me, "It oughta be a crime

"to landfill anything organic."

Our soil is starving for organic matter.

What I love about what Erik
is doing at Alegria Farms

is it's demonstrating
what we know we can do

in a small space and
it's a huge concentration

of organic material in the socks.

The fact that you can concentrate
this amount of activity,

life in the soil around
the roots of the plant

and then the plants can grow huge.

I mean who can't love a
guy that makes a salad

right at the farm's table

that tastes better than
anything you've ever had?

And by dinner time you're not hungry, why?

'Cause of the density of the nutrients.

- If we start refocusing
some of our energies

on the importance of soil

and how soil can mitigate
just about everything

including water quality
and climate change,

that to me should become a curriculum

that should be as important
in any science class in school

as anything else we're teaching.

(chuckles) You guys, this
is fully-composted soil.

But look at that, anybody wanna smell this

and smell how good it smells?

- No.
- Eww.

- No.
- No, smell it.

- Eww.

- Smells good, doesn't it?
- Yeah.

- What does it smell like?

- Just dirt.

- Like a forest?

- Yeah.
- Can I smell?

- Smell it.

It smells fresh, doesn't it?
- A roly-poly.

- There becomes a thing I
think when you teach children

when they're young that it
becomes a nurturing instinct

and everybody's got it.

If you don't learn it when you're young,

then it's kind of intimidating
when you get older.

To have access to great food requires us

to take care of the resources
that produce that food

and to teach kids how important
it is to rebuild and compost

and understand the connection
to nature and how soil works

to create their food supply.

It all is connected together.

Thank you, all right?

You keep teachin'
everybody 'bout food, okay?

You be the spokesman, all right.

(soft serene music)

(car horns honking)

(soft rock music)

- [Alicia] We're tryin' to
change Girl Scout cookies,

so they're healthier.

And right now, we have at
least 45,000 signatures.

- I tried to schedule a
meeting with Girl Scouts.

They ended up saying,
"Yes, we'll meet you."

You know, she got excited when I said,

"Oh, they're gonna meet with us."

Maybe she doesn't know
the gravity of her actions

and maybe she doesn't really understand

how big a deal it is.

It was just inspiring to me.

- Juliette Low said, "Right is right,

"even if no one else does it."

So that's why I'm here today
delivering my petition.

GMOs are genetically modified organisms.

There has been no long-term testing done

and they could be harmful.

It's time to do the right thing

and get GMOs out of the cookies.

Thank you.

- You did really good.

I'm proud of you. (smooches)

And then last minute,

they decided that they
weren't gonna meet us.

They said that the representative

that was gonna be meeting us
was going to be in a meeting.

(soft intriguing music)

- At Girl Scouts, we
stand for giving girls

the opportunity to develop into strong,

confident, courageous adults

who are committed to making
the world a better place.

- [Monica] Everything
kind of had to be focused

around this one meeting,
that now wasn't happening.

She said, "Well, that's okay.

"We can go anyway."

(soft intriguing music)

Hi, we wanted to come up to the Shop.

Monica Serratos.

I mean, they obviously
knew about the petition.

They know who Alicia is.

We've sent a lotta letters.

- Excuse me.

You need the phone?

- I'm on hold for Girl Scouts.

- Well you'll just have
to (speaks faintly).

- They hung up on me.

They were expecting us,

so they know what our intentions were.

Hi, I just called.

We're tryin' to go up to the Shop.

That's okay.

Okay.

Oh perfect.

Okay, thanks.

You wanna hold onto that.

It's heavy, I know.

And then that is your gift
for Anna Maria-Chavez.

- Mama, you know what?
- What?

- They coulda seen out the window.

- Oh, maybe.

- They took your name?
- Yes.

- [Man] Okay, go over there
and give him your name

and he's going to give you a pass.

- Okay.
- Then you'll go up.

- I know, it gets heavy.

Girl Scout Shop.

- Last name?
- Serottos.

- You just called, right?
- Yeah.

- [Man] You're not on their list.

- Okay.

So close.

I have to wait.

They didn't put my name on there.

It's a big part of my
daughter's childhood.

It would've been a cool experience

to go up and see what
happens at headquarters.

But unfortunately, we were
denied that privilege.

Do you think they're
gonna send somebody down?

- [Woman] No, she called it right.

They saw you out the window
and they've sized it up.

They're just gonna freeze you out.

- For them not to take the
time to listen to my daughter,

it's heartbreaking.

Here I am representing Girl Scouts

and then to be denied, even
to get up into the Shop

or to have someone sit down

and listen to one of
their own Girl Scouts.

It is, it's heartbreaking
and it's frustrating.

I don't know,

it makes me question the
organization sometimes.

(somber cello music)

And you know, I have a lot
of friends that say you know,

"They're not doing what you
feel is right nutritionally

"with selling the cookies

"or not listening to your daughter."

"Why don't you find another
organization or start your own?"

And for me, there's so many
things about Girl Scouts

that I do like that I think
are beneficial for all girls.

And instead of walking away from it,

I feel like I can set
an example for my kids

and my Girl Scouts by staying in it

and trying to make a change
just like Alicia's doing.

(sirens wailing)

- [Man] It's the 24th of January, 2015,

12:41 p.m..

I'm out at the GPH, which
caught on fire this morning

at proximate four a.m.

and the GPH was a total loss.

- Adam de Yong, chief operating officer

of Algae Aqua-Culture Technologies.

- [Man] Are we good to continue?

- The GPH has been completely lost.

Hopefully we'll be able
to salvage the foundation,

but the rest of the structure is gone

as you can see in the
background behind me.

You know, we were makin'
a really hard push.

We had a six-month goal to
support all of our own salaries

and operations here so
it'd be self-sustaining

and then continue to try
and sell the technology.

But really prove the value of the products

that we're producing,

which have proven to be
very valuable in trials

where everybody's tried 'em.

But that's no longer feasible.

(poignant piano music)

(fire crackling)

(ax cracking)

- One night last Friday,

fitful sleep; I couldn't sleep.

I'm laying there.

I'm half going in and out.

And around four, 4:30
a.m., the telephone rings

and I knew it could not be good news.

It happened to be the manager of the mill

and he was on the phone.

He goes, "Oh Michael, I'm so sorry."

You know, "But the Green
Power House has burned down.

"It's a total loss."

And I was like you know,

shock.

You know, you feel the physical shock.

You actually feel the
numbness in your hands

and you're going how
could that possibly be

that we could've lost this thing?

Because it was such a you
know, vibrant dynamic thing.

For me, it was difficult thinking

well, what in there is
combustible, you know?

I'm going you know, what
could possibly burn in there?

(poignant piano music)

Still unclear on how the
fire got started, you know?

I don't wanna say that we saw people

running around in the
field with coveralls on.

(laughs) You know?

I'm sorry, cut that out.

You know, what actually
was burning in there?

That was the question I have.

(poignant piano music)

There's a possibility, you know?

There are people that don't necessarily

wanna see bioenergy be successful,

but I can't say you know,
there was anybody involved.

So

hopefully

(sighs) we'll recover from this.

(poignant piano music)

I'm not one for conspiracy
theories, you know?

And that's not where I like to go.

I always like to think there's
a good scientific explanation

for everything.

But right now, I can't see
the scientific explanation

behind what happened.

(poignant piano music)

Oh my god.

Look at that.

The remnants of the GBH.

The dragon in the dragon's
lair, that's perfectly fine.

The one thing that you
would think would burn

(chuckles) because of the heat.

- [Man] Yeah, I'm gonna need your name.

- [Michael] My name is Michael Smith.

- [Man] Hey Brad, he says
his name is Michael Smith.

- [Brad] Nice.

I know the name.

- [Man] I was the one that
saw the fire, that noticed it.

- You turned it in?
- Yup, yeah.

I saw the flames comin'
up in a perfect square.

I say, "Call the fire department.

"It's a structure fire.

"It looks like the AACT
building is on fire."

They had a lotta water on
this fire really quick.

They did a good job.

- But obviously they couldn't
save any of the structure.

- Right.

It had come through the
roof of the building

and when it vented air in,
it just took off after that.

- Wow.
- Yup.

- Okay, well thank you for your time.

("Someone You'd Admire" by Fleet Foxes)

♪ After ♪

- It's like a person
who's died in your life.

You called her.

You talked to every day and
now that person is unavailable.

It was more than just a building

that represented sort
of an ecological system.

And when it went away it was like,

well what am I gonna do today?

Oh man, I remember you know, every beam.

Every piece of that unistrut
going up, all of that.

It is unbelievable.

There's nothing salvageable
here other than the concepts.

The official report is that

you know, it had to do with some biochar

that was not completely extinguished.

It was on the outside.

But

you know looking at the BTU rating

of charcoal versus the
devastation we're looking here

and the amount of heat that
needed to be generated,

I'm a little suspicious.

♪ One of them ♪

♪ Wants only to be someone ♪

♪ You'd admire ♪

♪ One would as soon ♪

♪ Just throw you on the fire ♪

- Wow, look at this.

This is a device that's meant to withstand

the combustion of a car engine.

Look what's happened
to the metal in there.

It's completely melted,

so we know the heat in there
got to be pretty intense.

I kept feeling like there's
a block about going forward

and now that roadblock is gone,
but the road is also gone.

So now we can go straight up if we want.

(singers vocalizing)

(snow crunching)

- "Whatever doesn't kill
you makes you stronger."

That old saying (chuckles) is
comin' pretty true right now.

(soft guitar music)

We just got notice they are
going to replace our farm

with skating rinks.

Two professional NHL skating
rinks and two community rinks.

So we're gonna freeze water

and provide more entertainment for people

and we're gonna get rid of the farm.

(soft guitar music)
(birds chirping)

And you know, we live in
such an entitled region.

And I think you know,

most of the time when
it comes to technology,

California's way ahead.

But I think we're sorely
behind the country

when it comes to this movement

and it's because people
think they're safe out here.

You look at the big
picture, nobody's safe.

A small earthquake that
splits the 5 freeway

here in Orange County one inch,

the trucks don't roll for two months.

Every city has about
four days food supply.

Where's the food gonna come from?

And there's really not a lot of education

or people wanting to do the research.

They really don't wanna know the answer.

It's kinda like ignorance is bliss.

Yeah, I am a little frustrated

and that's part of what drives me.

But it's not a frustration, I'm not angry.

I'm very much a realist.

I knew goin' in that this
was fighting up a river.

I also knew that it was worth everything

I could do to throw it at it.

It's sad in a way,

but it's good because
it's a reality check.

Where are we headed?

I mean, where are we really goin'?

And I think that's gonna be
defined by the political will

and it's gonna be defined even more

by where we set our priorities.

'Bout 2010, my brother's young boy Aiden

had an autoimmune disease pop up

and this was a really tough one.

Both kidneys were about
on the verge of failure

and they were dumping
proteins into the blood.

And there's no question that I believe

that is was a poor food, poor diet.

Too much salt, oil and sugar in the diet.

They were just eating too much garbage.

And so this little boy's
immune system just collapsed

and next time I saw him,
he was in a hospital

all hooked up with pipes.

I mean, I actually was pissed.

I mean, I have to admit
that was the feeling.

I was mad.

And I thought, mad at my brother.

And of course my brother
and I didn't talk for a year

'cause he knew I blamed him for it.

But I was also mad at myself
because I said you know,

I gotta get out there now

and start teaching people how to do this

'cause I know how to do
it and that was the moment

that triggered me to do it.

You know, a lotta people talk about it.

But you gotta go out and do it

and that's really how it all started.

(poignant piano music)

- And being up here now and
being part of this company

and all the work that's gone into it is

it's doing something that I believe in

and I know that everyone that
I'm working with believes in.

It's doing something that I
think can change the world.

(guests whistling and chattering)

(bottles clinking)

- [Robin] The vision for tonight

was to just connect and share you know,

your memories and impressions about

what the GBH meant to you.

(guests applauding)

- I just wanted to say
that I remember very well

all of those days lifting
panels, soldering,

welding and I'm going hey,
I'm a computer scientist.

- Everybody, even today.

We gave so much conversation
here today about the future.

- The phoenix is rising.

We're on a big ride.

You know, we're still a small pore.

But you know, I think
we're just ready to expand

and take things to the next level.

(somber piano music)

- And I personally invite you
to help us save the future

for the next one that we build.

- So that we're all able to realize that

and see the next one, so thank you all.

(guests applauding)

- If you know the history,

we got grants from the
Department of Agriculture.

I actually think that's what's held us up.

I mean, these are you know, feds

that are supposed to be wantin' to do this

and there was no followup
and kinda wondered

where'd they go and why?

Everybody's in the same game,

then you put this in and
it threatens the game.

They were doing economic
development for the Pacific Rim.

So they threw an expo of technologies

that would affect that.

'Course every technology applied.

All the new stuff was
out there and you know,

we just put an application in.

I mean, we were picked out
of you know, thousands.

That unto itself speaks volumes.

Okay so put everybody's cards on the table

and then you pick the ones

that you want to see change the
world and you're one of 'em.

You have to say somebody got it.

Everybody just was crazy about it

and that just never went anywhere.

And once again, the feds were involved.

(chuckles) You know what I mean?

So just sayin' when you
get the big boys involved,

somewhere in a board meeting

somebody's goin', "Free energy?"

Yeah, maybe.

You know, free fuel.

(chuckles) You know what I mean?

This isn't gonna work.

This won't help us and
they think that's true.

- You know, thinking about the fire.

If it was arson and I'm
not saying that it is.

If it was, that sucks.

However, he's hit about every
challenge I can conceive

and I'm sure there's
tons that are out there

that I can't conceive,
but he just keeps goin'.

(soft intriguing music)

- Six years of my life has just been

you know I can't say wasted, but

it's gone.

- You know, it was depressing.

But then

you know, what we have is each other.

- Michael and I have put
everything they make into it.

I mean she's recyclin' and
takin' the recycle money

and puttin' back into it,
so you know what I mean?

It's really that.

- It was hard to go out there.

I didn't go out there for three months.

There's no way I could
just go look at the rubble.

- Yeah, here's some old GPH scrap here.

- When we saw that this project
was gonna consume our lives,

it's like we nicknamed it our energy baby.

He's just got this spirit
that you see in his eyes.

It was a love-at-first-sight kinda thing.

- It puts stress on a relationship.

Occasionally we lose our minds,

start screaming top of our lungs
running off into the woods.

Just you know, why are
we doing this, you know?

Anybody else would've given up by now.

Suddenly our source of revenue,

our revenue stream just disappeared on us

and that put a lot of undue
pressure on the company.

Until we get the system
up and running again,

it's gonna be quite a struggle
to make this all work.

♪ We all dream ♪

♪ The same dream ♪

♪ We all ♪

- Our society as a whole has
a need of a soul healing.

This is the reason I think
we have so many problems

in society today is that we
have these souls that yearn.

In 1985, I was completely bereft.

It was a February day and it was raining.

I had gone to a job interview
and been turned down again.

And I was in a suit.

I really felt as though society

had deemed me a marginal person

and wandered fruitlessly.

I knew I had to change, but I
didn't know what was changing.

I didn't know how it was gonna change.

And I had parked in a parking
lot for a community garden.

(soft piano music)

I got out of the car in the rain

and walked through that garden.

There was a feeling of such
hopelessness and despair

that there was no reason to continue.

There was no reason to go on.

And yet walking through that garden

somehow reaffirmed my worth
because I knew these plants

and these plants were talking to me.

♪ We all dream ♪

♪ The same dream ♪

(singers vocalizing)

♪ We all dream ♪

♪ The same dream ♪

- I reached out to the Girl Scouts

and they still haven't gotten back to me.

You never know what
could be happening there.

What trouble could be happening.

They're either busy or
they're just not listening,

but we're still gonna keep trying.

- Hi, Alicia.

How you doin'?

Cannot have food security if
you cannot be seed-secure.

- I met David King and
he talked to me about

how seeds are really important.

- These people are telling us

that they're gonna feed the world, right?

With less diversity
than what we had before.

And that's not the way towards abundance,

that's the way towards starvation.

- Some seeds have already gone extinct

because people aren't saving 'em.

And if we don't save seeds
and all of 'em are gone,

we won't have food.

- Anytime you engage nature
in a fight, you're losing.

You're going to lose sooner or later.

And look it, we got super weeds now.

We've got super insects now.

These people inventing these
GMOs, were they creationists?

Did they think that the
bugs and the insects

weren't going to change?

Good grief, no.

That's why I think having a seed library

where the seeds are growin' out

year after year, they respond.

There's a dance in nature
where the plant gets better,

the weeds get better, insects get better.

The plant gets better,
the weeds get better,

the insects get better and
that evolution is important

and it's important for our food.

It's important for the
entire balance of things.

- The amount of extension that's going on

in seed variety is unprecedented.

Now that's the source of
our agricultural diversity.

That's the source of our food security.

Especially the time of
global climate change.

If the biotech industry has their way,

they eliminate that diversity

and put the entire food security
at risk for greater profit.

- So we are creating
a food scarcity system

in the name of providing food.

My own work is at the level
of ecological science.

I look at farming systems as a whole,

how biodiversity produces more nutrition

when you save the seeds
and grow the foods.

- What do you think?

You wanna start a seed
library at your school?

- Mm-hmm.
- Is that something

you think you could be in charge of?

- Yeah.
- Yeah?

- [Vandana] You can destroy everything.

You can take away our
books and our writings

and destroy our cultures.

You can kill every tree 'til no bird,

no insect can find a place to hide.

You can do that and more.

I do not fear your tyranny.

I do not despair ever
because I saved one seed

which I will sow and plant again.

- Everybody thinks water's
the biggest problem we have

and oil, right?

That's what you always hear.

We got big energy problems.

Well what's the most important energy

that you guys are dealing with every day?

The most important, what is it called?

Food.

So what's the problem with our food today?

Anybody know?

Okay, it's not healthy.

That's a really great answer.

It travels so far most of
the time that it's dead.

You guys are all young and
you guys are being subjected

to a food supply that's in bags

and you know, it's not natural.

You're hardly ever eating
food that you just pick

you know, right out of a good clean soil

that has high nutrition in it,

so this system actually
allows you to do that.

So we can lay these out
over the top of cement.

We can put 'em on a parking lot.

There's about 40 square miles

of unused land in Orange County

and Los Angeles County right now.

Unused.

- The whole idea for the
garden I think came from

just wanting access to better nutrition.

I just thought school
garden would be cool.

- Rather than selling Girl Scout cookies,

they had raised money already

for a future school garden.

- I drew some examples of what
we should get with the money.

So when it was grass,

we had to figure out where
the the bed would go.

- The suggestion of the
city of Mission Viejo

was let's just spray it with Roundup.

And so obviously we said,

"That's not gonna work
for our organic garden."

We're able to break ground
and got some beds in there

and little-by-little
it's just kinda grown.

- [Erik] What are the
things that plants need?

- Air.
- Air,

sun,

water and what's the last one?

Nutrients, you just hit it.

And by the way, four things
that our own bodies need, right?

So look at this soil and
pretend it's your blood.

Whatever's in that soil,

soon as you eat that
plant, it's in your blood.

We're goin' to teach you to fish.

We're not gonna give you
a fish and guess what?

When you guys learn this,
you're gonna be independent.

You're gonna be safe, kay?

That's total security when you guys know

how to grow your own food.

- And then now, we have the garden.

People are having a
good experience with it.

(soft vocal music)

- When I see our garden space,

it makes me think like this
is just a mini little world

that we created here on campus

when I see the butterflies flying around

or when I see a hummingbird or the bee,

it's just a whole
completely different picture

than just growing food.

There's nothing that's
ever gonna compare to like

saying your child or
you helped plant a seed

and you watched it grow and I ate it.

Nothing really compares to that.

That's something that money can't buy.

We give to the plants
and the plants give to us

and I think it's remembering
that cycle and remembering that

it's not the world and nature and then us.

We have to mutually live together.

Because the fact is if we forget that,

there's gonna come a point in time

where we're gonna destroy that.

(singers vocalizing)

(soft soothing music)

- We have to keep goin'.

We have to keep pushing
forward on this, you know?

You can see right now, the
planetary systems are in trouble.

At this point in my
life, I kinda look at it

and I go, wow I can't
imagine doing anything else.

Tell you the truth.

So you're like what, I'm gonna
go back and make video games?

I mean, how meaningful is that?

(chuckles) Right?

Let's go make a whole bunch of money.

How meaningful is that when you can't eat

or there's no water, you know?

It's crazy.

(soft intriguing music)

- There's hard work that needs to be done

and it's not pretty,
but it needs to be done.

Those alert enough among
us are obligated to help.

You don't get points for
doin' the right thing

and that's the right thing.

Just have to do it.

- Many cases, it's just as simple as

becoming more connected to your community,

thinking more locally

and realizing that every
community has assets,

whether it's people or organizations

or even resources that they can draw on

to find solutions.

- So what's happening now with Internet

and with independent media

is people are realizing
that they're not alone

and that these fantastic
values community-based

and proper agriculture,
et cetera, et cetera.

They're all actually on the rise

enormously around the planet.

- The rule of evolution is those organisms

that are gonna adapt to change, triumph.

Listen, all hands on deck.

Not only just of humans,

but it's very important that
we preserve biodiversity

because biodiversity is biosecurity.

So keeping that all in
balance is the eloquent dance

that we have to be involved in

as we dance across the
landscapes through our lives.

- [Rosario] The future of our
food system is in our hands.

Agriculture can either erode our planet

to the point of no return

or it can become a regenerative
force to heal our soils,

restore ecosystems and
create true food security.

The actions taken within
the next few years

will have ramifications
lasting for generations.

- In life, the phrase "It's
too late," doesn't work.

Life is about renewal.

Life is about healing.

Life is about bursting forth
again and again and again.

(inspirational orchestral music)

- [David] I look around I see children

and I think that we got to try for them.

- Take a couple.

- You know and the

honest truth is that as long as

I can breathe, there's a reason to try.

If it can be averted or
even partially averted,

what comes after me?

I owe that to them.

- [Rosario] Solutions and opportunities

are happening everywhere.

People from all walks of
life are shopping organic,

supporting local regenerative farmers

and even growing some of their own food.

Whether you have lots of land,

a small backyard or even just a balcony,

solutions like vertical farming,

composting,

biochar,

seed saving

and school gardens are all ways

to protect and support our planet's soils.

- [Erik] I'm lookin' at the connection

of soil health equals human
health equals planet health.

(soft inspirational music)

The solution is access
to nutrient-dense food.

But there are very few places

where people can actually
see, taste, feel, participate

in interactive farm if you will,
that makes that connection.

- [Alicia] I just wanted the
world to be a better place

and it's kind of exciting to
see that stuff is changing.

(soft inspirational music)

- [Michael] What else do we have to do

that's of any importance?

Now what kind of legacy
do we wanna leave behind

for the future generations?

- [Rosario] With only 60 years
of farmable soil remaining,

how to feed the world
without destroying the earth

is truly the issue of our time.

To say that we care about
the future of this planet,

to say that we care about
the survival of our species

and to not take action is
simply no longer an option.

As active participants in our
interconnected food ecosystem,

we each have the power

to help heal this planet we call home.

Everybody eats and everybody
can be part of the solution.

- [Michael] It was never
about this one system.

It was about demonstrating an example

of how we can take care of
ourselves and the planet.

("Saeglopur" by Sigur Ros)

(singer singing foreign language)

It's really about
presenting a way of thinking

in terms of closed-loop renewable systems.

We need energy, we need food

and we can live in
harmony with the planet.

I believe we can.

There is an urgency to the situation

we're facing on this planet.

A lot of us can see it.

We know it, we feel it,

but it seems like it's overwhelming.

But we can solve these problems.

It's not too late.

We can do much better.

(soft inspirational music)

(singers vocalizing)

(intriguing orchestral music)

♪ We all dream ♪

♪ The same dream ♪

♪ We all dream ♪

♪ The same dream ♪

(intriguing piano music)