the Living Soil

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I mentioned before that I believe our future sustainability is much more dependent upon the things we can not see then it is on the things we can. None more so then the very hidden threads of life that we find under our feet and that has been called by many as the Living Soil. This, a very complex community of very diverse groups of organisms, ranging from one-celled algae, fungi, protozoa and bacteria, to nematodes and arthropods, to earthworms, insects, small vertebrates and plants. All of which come together to work into some natural balance of making healthy Living Soil.

It is healthy living soil that then produces healthy food. It then becomes up to us to know what is healthy living soil and how to help to maintain it when we disturb it by raising our food.

In other words…

Feed the Soil and the Soil will Feed You.

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 These diverse organisms bring the soil alive, grow, eat and move through the soil. They make it possible to have clean water, clean air, healthy plants and moderate water flow.  These soil organisms decompose organic compounds. They sequester nitrogen and other nutrients and fix nitrogen from the atmosphere, making it available to plants. Many of these organisms increase soil aggregation and porosity, thus increasing infiltration and reducing runoff. Some prey on crop pest and are food for above ground animals. This delicate dance of life is known in Soil Biology as the SOIL FOOD WEB.

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The above and below images were borrowed from…

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It is said the best way to grow healthy soil is to not disturb it! Well that may be possible except for one exception. The exception being when we disturb it to grow food. Agriculture by it’s very nature is disturbing the soil, otherwise we still be hunters and gatherers.

Now to this I will add being a hunter and gatherer as much as possible may not be such a bad thing in my book of sustainable agriculture. We do try here to maintain a diverse native permaculture landscape on the farm’s many environs, when possible, as to be able to forage for our food when we can… dare I digress.

Now since we also find it a neccessity to farm and that includes both raising livestook and disturbing the living soil to harvest vegetables, mushrooms, herbs and flowers, we must feed the soil to keep it living and healthy. How to do that best is through a planned system of soil conservation, with one important part of that process being organic composting. One important element to also mention in our soil conservation efforts is to eliminate or at best minimize any need for off farm inputs, making it a perpetual cycle on farm as we believe it was intended. In short it is finding a healthy balance.

Here we are again returning back to the land what we have taken from our kitchen Gardens of Black Rock Farm…

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In closing, I will type that it was not my intention to include any in depth facts, information or science of Living Soil or Composting. I was hoping to get someone to think about that gentle balance of life that they may find under their walk and hopefully look into the subject further. So please take the time to do a search on the Internet (There is a ton of sites out there), take the time to look at the soil you wish to raise you food and most importantly… Do it wise and Healthy! … your protozoa will Thank You!

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