While I was searching for images of life in the soil, I came upon the following on Sweet Bay Farm’s website (see above). They’re working to restore soils depleted by decades of monoculture—the continual cultivation of a single crop, in this case tobacco—so this picture of several earthworm tunnels in a clod does not yet suggest anything teeming.
Jeff, before we begin, I want to thank you for the images of the jars of water, one with soil rich in organic matter and one with the dissolved murkiness of soil that is deficient in carbon. Ever since you showed those images during a public talk a decade or so ago, the comparison has stuck with me.
In 2016, Colorado Soil Systems received a $15,000 zero-percent loan from the 2Forks Club. This loan allowed us to establish a fruit-tree rootstock nursery to preserve indigenous trees that grow in the valley; purchase irrigation supplies, fencing, and soil amendments; and embark on a vegetable- and flower- production operation.
Salmon return. Boomerangs return. Hindus return. When things work out, investments return. Letters with insufficient postage return. So do infections, mosquitos, prodigal sons, wandering eyes, sideways glances, the hands of a clock, circular reasons, not-quite-infinite seasons, pendulums, memories, criminals to the scenes of their crimes, and stories to where they left off.
For many years, agriculture—or the production of food and fiber—has resulted in the massive degradation of billions of acres of land worldwide. Now, the same industry finally has been acknowledged as having the unique ability to sequester carbon through the improvement of soils.
We live in a world in which the complicated has been made simple and the simple has been made complicated. Pushing the power button on your computer, simple. Having an authentic conversation with your neighbor, complicated. Buying a bag of potato chips, simple. Growing potatoes in your front yard, complicated.
The notions of “alt-right,” “alt–National Park Service,” and other similar concepts, along with the idea of “fake” news, recently got me thinking about my own work, and about how there’s something edgy, subversive, and radical about investing in soil.
John-Paul founded Waste Farmers with $9,000 and a belief that idealism and capitalism can coexist. Waste Farmers has evolved into an innovator respected by leaders in the global community for developing simple solutions to the complex problems of modern agriculture and food security.
People are getting so sick because they aren’t connected to a healthy food system. Medicine is putting out fires, it gets to people way too late. We need to work upstream, outside the medical model.
We can’t help but see the world differently after unearthing the parallels in the essential roles that microbes play in both soil health and human health.