“I know sustainable is a popular buzzword today. Everybody wants to be sustainable. But my question is: Why in the world would we want to sustain a degraded resource? We instead need to work on regenerating our ecosystem ~ Gabe Brown, regenerative farmer and author, Dirt to Soil: One Family’s Journey into Regenerative Agriculture.
Gabe Brown, Ray Archuleta and Dr. Allen Williams created the Soil Health Academy to teach other farmers how to apply the principles and practices of regenerative agriculture outlined in new his book, Dirt to Soil. They offer hands-on training for students to see first-hand how those principles and practices are implemented in a host-farm setting.
Read the entire story and excerpt in the current edition of Nourish and Flourish. Available online. This excerpt from Gabe Brown’s book Dirt to Soil: One Family’s Journey into Regenerative Agriculture (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2018) is printed with permission from the publisher.
What is healthy soil and how does it affect human health?
For many years, the discussion about healthy soil and nutrient-dense foods has been limited to agronomists, nutritionists, scientists, organic farmers, foodies, and others on the fringes of mainstream agriculture. Books and articles about soil health, nutrient-dense foods, and regenerative agriculture are now the hot topics of conversation.
What does that really mean? To date, there’s no universally accepted definition of “regenerative” farming or soil health. We have talked to many experts in the field, and each has his or her own ideas about what this means. One thing the experts, social media advocates, and scientists agree on is that it is time for agriculture to move beyond “sustainable.” This practice of giving back what you take just isn’t enough. After all, a farmer’s largest asset is his ground, the soil he tills and relies on to provide a harvest.
Soil is not just “dirt.” Soil filters our drinking water, for example, and supports the plants that feed, clothe, and shelter us. “Without soil, we’d be hungry, naked, and homeless,” quips Clay Robinson, Ph.D., a New Mexico soil scientist who has taught tens of thousands of school kids about soil in the persona Dr. Dirt. We would also be “breathless,” he adds, “because it’s the plants growing in soil that produce our oxygen.”
What does the ground beneath our feet have to do with human health? A lot, as it turns out. Just like clean air and pure water, healthy soil is vital to our wellbeing. On the most basic level, soil supports and nourishes the plants that we eat—and that our livestock eat. Soil filters and purifies much of the water we drink as well.
Healthy soils also play a role in human disease and medicine. Soils teem with microorganisms that have given us many life-saving medications, including the antibiotics streptomycin and cyclosporine—a drug widely used to prevent transplant patients from rejecting their new organs.
Nourish and Flourish is one of the very few national consumer publications that is dedicated to showcasing farmers, doctors, scientists, advocates, educators and companies involved with soil health and regenerative farming + living. Each edition of Nourish and Flourish will feature profiles, stories, news and recipes directly related to this emerging and vital conversation for the future of our children and our planet. The time is now to learn more about the ground below your feet and get involved! Check back often as we will be sharing more news about the organizations and people to watch. Exciting times are on the horizon.