As the world battles to keep humans healthy in the midst of the worst pandemic of our generation, the idea of keeping soil healthy and promoting soil biodiversity is not high on our news feed.
However, soil is more than the ground we walk on. We need fertile soil for our own health and also for the planet.
To promote that understanding, the United Nations has set aside World Soil Day as an annual campaign on Dec. 5 with the objective of promoting healthy soil and preserving soil biodiversity.
That work is an everyday objective for Eighth Day Farm and farms like ours. We focus much energy into maintaining healthy soil in order to grow healthy food because healthy soil provides a foundation for healthier plants and more nutrient-dense vegetables. Monitoring soil health is imperative for all farms and the communities that surround each farm.
Communities benefit from farmers who commit to grow in a way that sustains the soil. It is not just about refraining from using costly and harmful chemicals.
Soil inputs like compost made on site with the help of our Food Waste Recycling Club enrich the soil at Eighth Day Farm. Local community members and businesses provide their food waste, and we make compost that teems with life as thousands of good bacteria and fungi improve the quality of our soil.
We also grow a variety of crops that promote diversity under the soil surface. That diversity improves the health of the plants and the nutrition it provides.
So, what can you do to participate in World Soil Day every day? Buy organic seeds and food from local suppliers, compost your kitchen scraps, start a garden; these are all great places to start.
Every dollar spent on a local farm who cares about soil health keeps our money in the community so more investment can be made to improve the soil. Not only do the dollars stay local, but also the nutrients continue to cycle locally as well.
If you grow your own food, the seeds and the inputs matter to you and your soil’s health. If you don’t have a garden, your lawn is another area to think about soil health. Organically produced inputs are a safer and healthier option for you and your soil.
Another way you can join in improving local soil life is by composting your food scraps. About 24 percent of your waste can be composted. By doing so, you limit waste sent to the landfill, lowering harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
If you cannot compost your own scraps, you can always join our club. We will even share a little compost with you.
— Andy Rozendaal is farm director at Eighth Day Farm, a Holland nonprofit.