Patrick’s Praxis

Patrick Holden is a man of two lives.

In one life, he is the Director of the Soil Association, an organization that functions as both the UK’s premier organic certifying agency, as well as a ‘charity’(as non-profits are called in England) that lobbies for, and educates about, the benefits of healthy soil. In this life he is a public persona- appearing regularly on the BBC and working directly with the Prince. He lives in the city. He wears a suit.

In the other life, Patrick is a farmer. He raises dairy cows for milk and he just built a new cheese making facility. He grows the largest carrots you’ve ever seen in your life. He lives in an ancient farm house. He has four small boys. He prefers work boots and a vest.

By walking between these two lives, Patrick Holden has created praxis, meaning that he practices, embodies, and actualizes the concepts that he speaks about in his public work. When we filmed Patrick on his farm both sides of him were present. His ease with public speaking and his comfortability with complex subjects came through beautifully. But when it came down to it, what supported the whole shoot and every thing he said, was the underlying confidence Patrick has when he puts his hands into his soil and pulls up his bunch of carrots- the confidence of praxis, the knowing that he is truly grounded in his work.

Director Deborah and Farmer Patrick on Pasture
- By Jessy Beckett

Soil Time Capsule

For 160 years, the Rothamsted Research facility, UK, has been sampling, testing, and preserving soil samples. They have the world’s longest running agronomic tests, comparing the productivity of different types of cropping systems. They have trials that aim to gage the effects of nitrogen laden precipitation on crop growth, and most fascinating of all- they have what could best be described as a soil time capsule.

Thousands of glass bottles, dating back to the 1850s, filled  with soil. The Director of programs, Keith Goulding, described to our crew how the soils in the bottles represented snapshots of time. How each soil sample was unique. How major world events, such as radioactive fallout from Chernobyl, could be detected in the soils from 1986 and thereafter. Our visit to Rothamstead drove home the theme that the world over- our actions are bound together by the interconnected global skin of soil.

- By Jessy Beckett