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At the Movies: The Need to GROW

The Need to GROW (2018) © Earth Concious Films. Image Courtesy of The Need to GROW

One of the best ways to tackle the challenge of carbon emissions is built a system into the soil that has always nurtured thriving life on our planet. But in the last one hundred years, well intentioned industrial advancements that sought to feed the world have inadvertently damaged the soil around the globe.

And what has taken thousands of years to form is being depleted at a rapid rate.

The Need to GROW begins with these two simple and tragic sentences: “We have an estimated 60 years of farmable soil left on the planet. Mostly due to unsustainable agriculture.”

Although the situation is dire, creative people all around the United States are responding with hope, innovation, and inspiration to reverse the trend and restore our soil.

The Need to GROW

The Need to GROW weaves together three stories of people who are doing what they can with what they have to address the health of our soil—and by extension, the health of people everywhere.

A Girl Scout advocates for a non-GMO Girl Scout cookie. A California gardener raises 10,000 heads of lettuce on 1/10th of an acre of his zero waste urban farm. An innovator designs a closed-loop power plant that has the capacity to transform the clean energy movement and revitalize soil using accelerated natural systems.

All three face adversity and resistance. All three overcome, with perseverance and hope.

According to Michael Smith, the inventor of the Green Power House (GPH), “The top priority right now is to repair the soil.” 

But it doesn’t take just one huge answer. It takes many, many small solutions, all revolving around regenerative agriculture.

Finding the Love: Faithifying Your Viewing

The Need to GROW emphasizes the woeful choices and devastating consequences of industrial farming, which has depleted soil nutrients around the globe, reduced the nutritional value of our food, and contributed to the alarming changes in our environment.

Sometimes you need to know the reality of the situation before you’re able to make a change.

In Peter’s first public sermon after receiving the Holy Spirit, Peter has to go over all of the history that led to Jesus’ crucifixion. It’s rough. It’s painful. It’s raw. It hits close to home. And the people are stricken.

“Cut to the quick, those who were there listening asked Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers! Brothers! So now what do we do?’” (Acts 2:37 MSG)

Peter admonishes those in the audience, saying, “Change your life.” Repentance is both turning around and walking in a different direction, and that is what the filmmakers challenge us to do in The Need to GROW.

In the Old Testament, God commands people not to make idols out of anything—nothing should take priority over the Lord, “No carved gods of any size, shape, or form of anything whatever, whether of things that fly or walk or swim.” 

What do idols have to do with repentance and the climate, you ask? 

What if the “carved gods” of our age are profitability, disposability, and convenience in the form of plastic wrap, monocrops, and water bottles? What if the things we worship above God these days are fashioned from the fossils of formerly living animals, things that used to fly and walk and swim? They might not look like dinosaurs anymore, but the stuff of their beings are now bundled and burned to shape and fuel the things we worship.

“Don’t bow down to them and don’t serve them because I am God, your God, and I’m a most jealous God, punishing the children for any sins their parents pass on to them to the third, and yes, even to the fourth generation of those who hate me. But I’m unswervingly loyal to the thousands who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:4-6 MSG).

The decisions previous generations made for profitability, disposability, and convenience are rolling out their consequences on today’s generations… and the consequences of our actions today will impact our children, and our children’s children, and our children’s children’s children. 

Stricken, “cut to the quick,” like the first-century audience members of Peter’s first sermon, we can repent, we can turn around and walk in a new direction. We can experience again the “unswerving loyalty” of God as we return to loving him and loving others through caring for the creation he called good long before the rise of man and the fall of humanity.

How? How do we take the next right step?

At one point, The Need to GROW quotes Confucius, a Chinese philosopher that lived about 500 years before Christ, “If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees. If your plan is for 100 years, educate children.”

One of these plans is not better than the other. We actually need all three plans—we need to plant rice, plant trees, and educate children (and more…). We can do our small part in our backyards to grow our own produce, to advocate for soil health, to start school gardens and community gardens and pollinator gardens, and to compost food scraps, “something everyone can do to restore carbons into their local soil,” according to the film.

These and so many other small steps are the great, big ways a whole world of caring humans can make a difference and ensure the ongoing health and safety of our human community.

It’s time for us to turn around and start walking in a new, familiar direction, to pursue the “new thing” the Lord is doing, to participate in God’s good work of enriching the wastelands (Isaiah 43:19). 

Learn more about and watch a free screening of The Need to GROW by visiting

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