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Organic Gardening

Get dirty, have fun and grow more food with great gardening tips from real-life gardeners.


Rich Soil, Rich People (with Video}

By Stan Slaughter


Tags: healthy soil, biochar, Missouri, Stan Slaughter,

 

This is an exciting time for the healthy food movement. The number of tools and techniques that inform organic farming and gardening is exploding. Evidence is pouring in that the conventional food system is broken and the interest in food that can lead to health grows daily.

While this curve is turning vertically now, it didn’t come out of thin air. Yes, Kansas City does have 43 farmers markets and a notable movement well in place, but the meetings that kicked this off started almost 30 years ago.

MOTHER EARTH NEWS started in the 1970s and Organic Gardening magazine started in the 1940s. Sir Albert Howard published his compost manual in 1931 based on his research and influence from Farmer’s of Forty Centuries, which was based on a tour of China, Japan and Korea in 1905. The Biochar Solution, by my friend Albert Bates, details the soil preparation techniques practiced by Amazonian Indians more than a thousand years ago, which hold great promise for the long-term productivity and health of our soils today.

This legacy of information is a treasure to be built upon and shared. Too often we are like the farmer who was asked if he was going to the farming workshop and replied, “No, I already don’t farm as well as I know how to.” The time is ripe to practice what we know. Economics, demographics, and an out-of-balance food system are creating rapid change and exciting opportunity.

As our friend Yogi Berra famously said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it!” Mainline farmers are embracing change. MCB, Inc., of Columbia, Mo., is now selling semi-trailer loads of biochar to conventional farmers.

The NRCS of Douglas County, Kan., recently gave a workshop (see my post, Biological Farming Trending Up) featuring a powerful system of cover cropping, developed by Emporia native Gail Fuller, that builds soil carbon, reduces inputs and improves fertility.

The educational tool I’ve started using is the short YouTube video. My first installment is Rich Soil, Rich People. I’ll use this as an umbrella under which to share nuggets and references to what I see as the best of this exciting area.

What we know for sure is that Nature is abundant and marvelously made. By applying the best of what we know from our studies, we can start to create and benefit from the synergies inherent in the web of life. When we cooperate with Nature, 2+2=9 because there are benefits and helpers we don’t even know yet.

Let’s lean in to this benevolence and see where it takes us!

Stan Slaughter is a presenter providing waste reduction/composting programs in schools and for adults in cities, counties and states. He has visited more than 1,000 schools and 100,000 students in Kansas. He is also active in the U.S. Composting Council, presenting workshops entitled Best Practices in Compost Education at the annual conference. He was the first winner of the Missouri Environmental Educator of the Year award in 1995. Read all of Stan’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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