The treasure of our soil

I and our wholesale buyer Jack McCann were interviewed by MN 350 about our farm and regenerative agriculture in general. The podcast is entitled “An Irreplaceable Treasure.” Find it here:

One of the things I ended up talking about in the podcast, which I did not expect to do, was the precious nature of our soil. I am so grateful that we have been able to protect some of this soil on our farm by planting it in perennial pastures and keeping it from being sprayed by nitrogen, which ages the soil.

This fertile soil of our region is a wonder of the world, created over millennia. It is also a living, life-giving presence that underlies everything we do or hope to do. Even a teaspoon of soil has more living microorganisms in it than there are people living on earth, so it is staggering to think of how much life an acre of soil represents, or how much a hundred or a thousand acres represent. That doesn’t even count all the plants that grow in that soil and the animals that are sustained by those acres.

We say that nitrogen and erosion damage the soil, but it would be more accurate to say those things “injure” the soil. They injure it seriously. The scope of that injury is so vast and heartbreaking, that it is hard to hold an awareness of it. I guess we have to hold the wonder and the power of the soil in our hearts as well so we have the strength to grieve for that injury and for the diminished future that it may bring to the coming generations.

As a farmer, I have control over a small portion of soil, and I have that control for a small portion of time when you think of time from the perspective of the land itself. I will use this time to love this soil. I will try to protect it and nurture it. Knowing my efforts will be imperfect and far from adequate, I will love even so.

In loving the soil and raising food, I serve as a representative of all the people who eat the chicken and the eggs and the pork that are produced here. Because our work and our nourishment is unavoidably connected with the soil, it is connected with a miracle. I hope that miracle can light up our heart always.

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