Six Feet Deep

Photo: Land Stewardship Project

Six Feet Deep

1. Native prairie, the soil thrived
Way, way back before the plows arrived
It was six feet deep.
Can you imagine it was six feet deep? [Serious black!]
Once upon a time, the soil was six feet deep.

2. It was species rich, like a hundred-fold
Their roots all tangled in the midnight gold
It was six feet deep. Can you imagine it was six feet deep? [Serious black!]
All that life, standing on six feet deep.

LSP Website

3. Then came my people. Tell me how
The big fat loam’s gotten skinny now.
It was six feet deep. Can you imagine it was six feet deep? [Serious black!]
How on earth could did we squander that six feet deep?

4. City folks, you got to pay your mind
If the soil dies, you’re going right behind
Talking six feet deep. Can you imagine it — six feet deep? [Serious black]
Everybody’s got a stake in that six feet deep.

5. It’s no joke, it’s no jive
People need a vision to stay alive
How ’bout six feet deep? Could we regenerate six feet deep? [Serious black]
We’ve got a vision — We call it six feet deep.
We’ve got a vision — We call it six feet deep.
We’ve got a vision — We call it six feet deep.

Words and music by Bret Hesla. Written on commission for Land Stewardship Project
© 2022 Bret Hesla. All rights reserved. Use with permission, please. Contact:
Recording Credits:
Bret Hesla & Six Feet Deep
Bret Hesla — lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Dan Chouinard — piano
Dave Michel — bass, vocals
Steve Kimball — drums
Tim Gustafson — lead guitar, group vocals
Rebekah Fergus — harmony vocals
Jeff Bower — tuba
Robin Nelson — group vocals
Betty Tisel — group vocals
Jane Dunlap — group vocals
Brooks Cavin — group vocals
Larry Dittberner — group vocals
Recording Engineer —  Dave Michel
Recorded at Orchard House, Minneapolis, Minnesota

This song is part of the series Six Feet Deep, a collection of six songs written on commission for the Land Stewardship Project.  The songs reflect the words, hopes, dreams and practices of farmers who are using the practices of regenerative agriculture.

In 2019, I was commissioned to write a song for the Land Stewardship Project. They wanted a song about their Soil Builders program. Doug, my liaison, gave me a few brochures, a few notes, and offered to connect me to some farmers to interview. So, knowing nothing about farming, I went to a field day in Mower County put on by farmer Tom Cotter, to tell other farmers about his work. About 25 farmers (and me) showed up. Amazing set of practices he’s blending together–no-till, no plow, cover crops 24-7-365, innovative grazing techniques, mycorrhizal fungi, science, ecology, joy, health, honesty. These farmers doing what they’re calling regenerative agriculture seem to have re-imagined their work as building soil for the long term, which not only leads to healthier food and better yield, but helps fight climate change by storing carbon in the soil. Then I went to visit another farmer from around Cannon Falls, Kaleb Anderson. A super fun conversation that further opened my mind to the work these folks are doing. He recommended a book called, Dirt to Soil, by North Dakota farmer Gabe Brown. So I read that, too: kind of a regenerative ag bible. And on and on.

I ended up writing a suite of songs — two recorded in 2020, and four more in 2022. Most of the images in these songs come directly from the comments of the folks I talked to or read about.

  •  x 
  •  x 
  •  x