Soil is not dirt.
There’s a lot of talk these days about the microbiome, beneficial bacteria, soil food web and other names for the often invisible life in the soil. Many people don’t realize that the soil beneath them is not some inert substance. Soil is a symbiotic culture of many different microorganisms which are often unique to that specific area.
“There are as many microorganisms in a spoonful of healthy soil as stars in the sky and neurons in the brain.” – Rodney Greder, UF/IFAS Extension Agent
How many of us know our own bodies have 10 times more microbiome than we have actual human cells? Without our microbiome, we would not survive. Medical advances keep revealing the wisdom of our microbiome and its affect on our health or lack thereof.
Soil is intelligent.
Our bodies become the soil and the expression of it comes through our food. Every aspect of the environment and ecology of a land whether it is grazed upon, or planted with crops and trees, will have an effect on that food. Agroecology is the study of such inter-connectedness.
“A field of study motivated to understand ecological, evolutionary, and socioeconomic principles and use them in an improvement process that sustains food production, conserves resources, and maintains social equality.” – Brym and Reeve, 2016
Artificial intelligence has a certain place in agriculture, but it can never replace innate intelligence.
“The terrain is everything!”
Since it’s the holidays, let’s think wine. Great wine is noted for it’s “terroir”, or ground that the grapes were grown on. This earth is unique and the microbiome is an important aspect of the terroir.
The controversy between Pasteur’s germ theory, and his contemporary, Bernard’s terrain theory is hotly debated to this day. Since the truth seems to lie somewhere between, and it’s the holidays, let’s agree it’s some of both. I encourage you to evaluate both opinions and decide for yourself.
Create the terrain.
When we compost, or simply leave the leaves and grass clippings in place, we are creating a microbiome. When the leaves fall to the ground and begin decomposing we are seeing the creation of the microbiome by the soil food web. When we create a garden, plant trees and carefully protect the soil from chemicals, artificial fertilizers and over-tilling we are protecting the soil. When we protect the soil, we are protecting our planet and ourselves. We need the soil and the soil needs us.
Healthy soil means healthy food.
When we are willing to spend more money on organic, bio-dynamically grown food, we are paying extra to support the soil, the microbiome, and the small farmer. Here are some astounding facts: 40 percent of all Florida farms are less than an acre and 60 percent of all farmers are 60 years old. Who will replace them?
So, this Thanksgiving, thank the soil and all the small farmers. Because without both, where would we be?
To learn more about the life of the soil, agroecology, regenerative farming or becoming a small farmer, check these links: