It's easy to look at the world today and feel really overwhelmed with gloom and doom. We're told we have 7 to 10 years to prevent that 1.5 degree “point of no return” warming. We're told that we only have 60 years of topsoil left, which basically means a scheduled worldwide famine roughly 60 harvests from now (2070-2080-ish). So how does a person cope with this information and find some kind of meaningful response to it? because it's a big challenge for Nick and myself- it’s something that we’ve wept together over.
Our answer to these problems is to devote our lives to soil building, to sequestering more carbon into the soil, to reclaiming lands that have been degraded by traditional chemical agriculture, to educating people about how they too can participate and engage in building soil, in sequestering carbon, in growing nutritious food, and most of all, that it does not have to be cost prohibitive!
The reason that we believe this will make such a big difference is because, quite frankly, plants are much better at drawing carbon back down into the soil than we are. They have spent millennia evolving to eat carbon dioxide and poop oxygen. They are our greatest allies and THEIR greatest allies are the bacteria and the fungi that feed them. So from our point of view, the most impactful thing that we can do is devote our lives to cultivating, educating about, and holding space for beneficial soil bacteria and fungi (as well as their nematode micro arthropod and protozoa compliment.)
I invite you to our challenge, to a different way of thinking about how to solve this problem. Covid taught us that we need to localize our food and supply chains to make our communities more stable. We know that low income and at risk communities need nutritious food as a first priority. We know that every community needs access to nutritious and good tasting food. So, through the act of creating a community space for soil restoration, we will be able to address all of these issues at once. This project would be a “Hub,” and all cities, towns, and villages need hubs of their own. It’s got to be replicable. There are people around the country working towards “Hubs”, like our friends over at Farmers Market Network (See BrightBridge.Network until their project FarmersMarket.Network launches.)
Here’s how they draw out the model:
What role do we see Hugelrado playing in this system? Why, a Sequestering/Feeding/Educating hub, of course!
In order to grow food we need healthy soil. In order to have healthy soil, we need LIVING soil, which we get from proper composting. In order to have compost, we need support from our direct community. And by support we mean: “CAN WE HAVE YOUR TRASH? pretty plleassseee?! ”
No, really, if you're near Arvada, consider becoming a Soil Supporter and dropping your compostables with us via MakeSoil.Org. (Fun fact- you can become a SoilMaker or SoilSupport anywhere in the world via MakeSoil.org!)
Imagine it: homeowners, restaurants, schools and community gardens have a reasonable small fee for us to pick up their compostables. Our composting team will work under the guidelines set forth by world renowned soil biologist, Elaine Ingram, to care of and cultivate good compost.
Now here's the thing about compost, when most people think of compost they think of a stinky, smelly, kind of putrid, rancid, pile of goop. That's not compost!!! That is putrefied organic matter!!! When we're talking about compost, we're talking about things breaking down and being absorbed back into the earth in a way that 1)they smell good. (That's your first sign- it should smell good. Follow your nose.) And 2) you have a lot of aerobic beneficial biology. So we actually take samples from our compost and look at them under the microscope. We want to see certain types of certain morphologies of beneficial fungi, beneficial bacteria, and their predators. (did someone say: School field trips in support of STEM?!?)
So now imagine: we have collected the compost from the community. We've composted their waste into living soil. We've looked at that living soil under the microscope to verify that, yes, the beneficial biology that we want is present. We use that living soil to grow more nutrient dense, healthier, stronger plants WITHOUT pricey synthetic chemicals (which means no leaching and excess water pollution, either.) We’re able to sell those plants and produce back to our compost supporters at a reduced cost (since they helped make the soil.) and they’re getting three problems solved at once: 1) managing kitchen waste 2) diverting that waste from off gassing in a landfill 3) getting reduced cost and more nutrient dense food in return.
Now add in the lease-able community greenhouse garden areas that come with your Natural Farming inputs and a garden mentor to guide you on your new journey in Natural Farming. Add in all the other fun surprises we are determined to weave into our Hub and DAMN, that’s something to be hopeful about.
Because, see, Hope is not a feeling. It’s a plan.
Sequestration Diagrams are from article: “Could Paying Farmers to Store Carbon Help the Climate and Save Farmers?”
Hub Diagram from FarmersMarket.Network
Natural Farming Greenhouse from NaturalFarming.Co