New Hampshire Agriculture in the Classroom

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Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix

Lesson Plan

Kiss the Ground

Grade Level
9 - 12

Students will view the documentary Kiss the Ground to consider the concept of regenerative agriculture as a tool to improve soil health and overall environmental sustainability.

Estimated Time
90 minutes
Materials Needed


Explore and Explain:

  • Kiss the Ground documentary
    • 45-minute Educational Version 
      • Note: The full-length film is also available on Netflix (subscription required) and Amazon Prime (rent or buy). The engagement activities contained in this lesson plan use the 45-minute educational version.
  • Student handouts (according to the engagement activities you select)

carbon sequestration: a naturally occurring process that stores carbon in a carbon pool through geologic or biologic means

climate change: a change in global or regional climate patterns which can include increased temperatures and extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, etc.

desertification: a type of land degradation in drylands in which biological productivity is lost due to natural processes or induced by human activities

greenhouse gas: a gas that contributes to the greenhouse effect by absorbing infrared radiation

regenerative agriculture: a conservation and rehabilitation approach to food and farming systems that focuses on topsoil regeneration, increasing biodiversity, supporting biosequestration, and increasing resilience to climate change

sustainable agriculture: an approach to agriculture that focuses on producing food while improving the economic viability of farms, protecting natural resources, and enhancing quality of life for farmers and society as a whole

symbiotic relationship: close, prolonged association between two or more different organisms of different species that may, but does not necessarily, benefit each member

Did You Know?
  • Regenerative agriculture is defined as more than being sustainable. It is intended to reverse degredation of soil to make it healtheir than its current state.1
  • Planting cover crops and using no-till planting techniques are both considered regenerative agricultural practices.1
  • Regenerative practices are designed to closely mimic native ecosystems.2
Background Agricultural Connections

Kiss the Ground is a documentary film released in 2020 that explores the potential of regenerative agriculture to address climate change and improve the health of our planet. Directed by Rebecca Harrell Tickell and Josh Tickell, the film features interviews with farmers, scientists, activists, and celebrities who are passionate about sustainable farming practices.

The central theme of Kiss the Ground revolves around soil health and its crucial role in mitigating climate change. The documentary argues that modern large-scale agriculture, with its reliance on chemical fertilizers and pesticides, has led to soil degradation, loss of biodiversity, and increased carbon emissions. In contrast, regenerative agriculture promotes practices such as cover cropping, crop rotation, and minimal tillage to regenerate soil health and promote a more sustainable and resilient food system.

The film also delves into the concept of carbon sequestration in the soil, emphasizing the idea that healthy soils can act as a carbon sink, helping to reduce the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Through engaging storytelling and visually stunning cinematography, Kiss the Ground aims to inspire viewers to consider the impact of their food choices on the environment and to advocate for more regenerative and sustainable agricultural practices.

Overall, Kiss the Ground advocates for a shift in global agricultural practices toward methods that not only produce food but also contribute to the restoration of ecosystems and the fight against climate change. The documentary encourages viewers to see the potential for positive change in the way we interact with the land and emphasizes the importance of recognizing the symbiotic relationship between healthy soil, food production, and environmental well-being.

  1. Ask students, "What documentaries have you seen?" After they have listed some, follow up by asking, "How would you describe a documentary film?" and "In style and purpose, how do documentaries compare to other movies/films we watch?"
  2. Give each student one copy of the Documentary Films: Applying Critical Thinking and Media Literacy.
  3. Assign students to read the handout individually or in teams.
  4. Ask students if they would add any benefits or limitations to the list found on their handout. What do they like about documentary films? What do they recognize as challenging?
  5. Explain that this handout introduces strategies in developing media literacy. These strategies can be applied to all digital media. They'll get their first chance today.
Explore and Explain

Using film in the classroom can offer a variety of educational benefits by contributing to a more dynamic and engaging learning environment. There are a variety of engagement strategies that help facilitate a student's ability to understand a topic and think critically about what is presented. Choose from the following engagement activities to facilitate discussion. You may choose one strategy or a combination of strategies to reach your objectives.

Strategy 1: Class Discussion
Use the following topic sections to pause the film and discuss each section of the film by topic. You may also choose to show only a portion of these sections to meet the needs of your curriculum.

  1. Introduction (0:00)
  2. The role of carbon in our world (02:56)
    • Where is carbon in our world?
    • How could you respond to the statement, "Carbon is the 'bad' guy?" 
      Career Spotlight

      Highlight careers in soil science and discuss the importance of various careers performing roles in research and education. For example, Ray Archuleta in the film is a Conservation Agronomist and works for the NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service).

  3. Soil is alive (06:25)
    • What is alive in the soil?
    • Are microbes in the soil good or bad? Why? 
  4. Soil and pesticides (08:16)
    • Did anyone notice the shift in the background music during this section of the film? Why do you think it changed? How did it make you feel?
    • What do you think of or feel when you hear the word chemical? How about toxic chemical? Are all substances (in all quantities) toxic? 
      Teach for Clarity

      This section of the film includes statements that could be challenged. In your class discussion, refer to the six challenges and limitations found on the handout used in the Engagement portion of the lesson. Do any statements represent limited viewpoints, subjectivity, bias, or selective representation? Use learning activities from the lesson plan, Evaluating Perspectives about GMOs to learn more about glyphosate-resistant crop varieties and their pros and cons.

  5. Desertification (12:05)
    • Why does tilling the soil contribute to desertification?
    • Why is a 'covered planet' a healthy planet?
    • How does the presence or absence of plants in the soil impact climate?
  6. Biosequestration (18:49)
    • What is the definition of biosequestration?
    • How does nonrenewable energy impact our climate?
  7. Regenerative Agriculture (21:58)
    • What is the definition of regenerative agriculture?
    • Do you think any regenerative agricultural practices are being used in farms of various sizes across the world?
    • What is the purpose of a cover crop in reference to soil health? 
      Teach for Clarity

      Help students avoid the misconception that large-scale farms, often referred to as conventional or industrial farms, don't use some of the regenerative or "climate-smart" practices discussed in the film. Farms of various sizes (small, medium, or large-scale) as well as various production styles (conventional or organic) use a variety of agricultural practices in reference to tilling, pesticide use, and other practices discussed in the film. 

  8. Hooved herbivores in regenerative agriculture (25:08)
    • How do animals such as cattle, sheep, or bison impact soil health (when managed properly)?
    • Are properly managed hooved herbivores part of regeneration or desertification?
  9. Desertification (vs regeneration) (30:25)
    • Trees provide ground cover and transpiration, but require more water than the majority of the Earth's surface. What plant can grow with less available water?
    • Why are hooved herbivores candidates for regeneration of land?
  10. Compost (34:56)
    • What does compost contribute to soil?
    • Do you think composting food scraps and other organic material can be done on all scales (small, medium, large) to regenerate soils?
  11. Regenerative diet (37:22)
    • The film offers that we can "eat" our way out of climate change by selecting foods that are produced using regenerative farming practices. Do you think these practices can be applied to all types (fruits, vegetables, grains, meat, eggs, etc.) of food? Can you think of any limitations?
  12. Regenerating the Loess Plateau (39:25)
    • What was the connection between poor soils (desertification) and poverty in the people that lived around the Loess Plateau?

Strategy 2: Actions to Improve Soil Health and Sustainability
Approach the film from a perspective of identifying actions (both small and large) that can improve the health of our soils. 

  1. Give each student one copy of the Kiss the Ground: Actions to Improve Soil Health & Sustainability handout.
  2. Instruct students to answer the questions found on page one and two of the handout as they watch the film. 
  3. Prior to beginning the film, point out page three. Instruct students to be watching for actions (both large and small) that can be taken to improve the overall health of our soils.
  4. After students have completed the film and the handout, discuss the challenges and limitations that exist in carrying out some of these action items. This step is important in evaluating the overall message of the film. Use prompts as needed for students to recognize the limitations that may exist. A few examples include:
    • Composting food scraps: Gathering food scraps from homes and restaurants requires time and fuel (nonrenewable resource). It would be necessary to discover if the input (time and nonrenewable resources) would justify the environmental benefit of composting on a large scale.
    • Eliminating or decreasing pesticide use in agriculture: Pesticides are chemicals that kill unwanted plants (weeds) and insects that can harm crops. Can other forms of weed and pest management be used? If so, would the cost of management be economically sustainable?
    • Adopting a regenerative diet. The film suggested only consuming grass-fed animals. What is the difference in the environmental footprint of grass-fed vs grain-finished beef? (See Activity 2 of Beef: Making the Grade)

Strategy 3: Critical Thinking and Fact Checking
Use the content of the film to teach skills in media literacy. Students will receive a direct quote from the film and take a deep dive into the topic.

  1. Make one classroom copy of the Kiss the Ground: Wait, Say That Again handouts. Each sheet has a quote from the movie along with some prompts to help students dissect and dig deeper into the topic.
  2. Divide the class into small groups. Give each group one quote.
  3. Allow students time to research and respond. 
  4. Invite students to share with the class what they discovered on their topic.
  1. Return to the Documentary Films: Applying Critical Thinking and Media Literacy handout from the Engagement portion of the lesson.
  2. Ask students to identify one benefit they feel applies to their experience in watching Kiss the Ground along with one limitation they can identify about what they heard in the film. 
    Teach for Clarity

    Help students identify the misconception that a documentary is either all good or all bad. Students should begin to develop the ability to recognize facts that are true in all situations as well as statements that are true in specific situations or from someone's perspective. For example, Kiss the Ground introduces the value of growing multiple plant species on a single plot of land to increase the quantity and variety of soil microbes. While this science is sound, further questions should be asked. Can regenerative agricultural practices be applied to all agricultural commodities? Can regenerative agricultural practices be performed on all scales (farm sizes)? Do production costs increase? A cattle or sheep rancher can manage their grazing lands using these regenerative practices. However, can a fruit or vegetable farmer efficiently grow produce using the same practices? No. Sustainable and regenerative practices will look different from one commodity to another and from one climate to another.

  3. Review the following key concepts:
    • The production of our food, fiber, and other agricultural products requires the use of limited natural resources. Agricultural practices vary in overall sustainability. Research and technology are valuable to improving practices.
    • Healthy soils are critical to crop growth and climate health.
    • Technologies such as genetically modified organisms, pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers have both benefits and limitations to evaluate.
Andrea Gardner
National Center for Agricultural Literacy
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