Healthy Soils for a Healthy Life

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

“The soil is, as a matter of fact, full of live organisms. It is essential to conceive of it as something pulsating with life, not as a dead or inert mass.”
– Albert Howard, The Soil and Health, 1947

2015 is the International Year of Soils (IYS). Though the grand importance of soil is obvious to farmers and the like each and every day, every year, it is with hopes that 2015 will bring soil forward to the centre of the stage, as the star it is, in food and farming globally.

Discussions surrounding our food system, health and environment are omnipresent and evergrowing – and so much of it begins with our soil.  After all, healthy soils are the foundation for our food, fuel, fibre and even medicine, explains the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), who also have estimated that as much as 95% of the world’s food supply is directly and indirectly produced as a result of soil. Yet, the multiple roles of soil often go unnoticed and unappreciated.

The IYS aims to educate the public on the crucial role soil plays in food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and essential ecosystem functions. Through 2015, the FAO plans to encourage and support policies and initiatives toward the development and maintenance of healthy sustainable soil.

SOIL CARE – Will we make the right choices? (Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association) by Don Lobb provides a brief history lesson on the discovery of the significance of soil health, influential methods and nutrient retrieval:

“As we look forward we must remember that like us, the ancients did have good soil, and they were serious about soil care – and yet they lost it. Today we have tools and knowledge that can allow us to avoid that fate. Will we use them? What will be our legacy to future generations? Will we make the right choices?” 

5 Ways You Can Celebrate 2015’s International Year of Soils

1) Educate yourself (and others): Learn about Healthy Soil & the Vital Role it Plays in Our Lives
There is an abundance of material online, and plenty of documentaries
e.g. Dirt! The Movie, Symphony of the Soil

2) Dig in: Start a Garden with your own Healthy Soil
Find resources online (e.g. How to Plan a Vegetable Garden, How to Prepare Garden Soil), or even find a class near you

3) Compost: Start Composting to Nourish your Garden with a Natural Fertilizer
Visit your city/region’s website for information, many also provide compost
e.g. How to start your own compost pile

4) Get out there: Attend an Event, or Visit a Local Farm
Farm Fresh Maps for the Golden Horseshoe Regions

5) And as always, Support Local: Buying local food will support your local farms and farmers, and thus support them in continuing to care for our land