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A Living Soil – why it matters

One of the things the Better Food Traders are trying to do is support commercial growers and farmers who are actively working to build a ‘living soil’ on their holdings.

‘Why does this matter?’ we hear you ask. How long have you got?

A living soil is full of life. It’s a busy, working community, full of bugs and microbes and fungi (a bit like our cities then, but with minibeasts instead of people!) that interact with plants to naturally promote fabulous and healthy growth. And we believe fabulous and healthy plants are a great starting point for fabulous and healthy people. As Charles E Kellogg put it:

Essentially, all life depends upon the soil …. There can be no life without soil and no soil without life; they have evolved together.

But the really clever thing is that a living soil knows exactly what it needs without us interfering!

Experiments from as early as the 1950s show clearly that organically managed soils, left to their own devices, release exactly the right balance of nutrients at exactly the time the plants need them, while their chemically treated counterparts become ‘junkies’, craving their fix of NPK to get them up in the morning and keep them going. (And THAT sounds like me and coffee…).

A living soil is also a very effective way to capture the dreaded ‘carbon’ in ways that we are only just starting to understand.

That’s why many of the farmers and growers we buy from spend a lot of time just letting the soil do what it wants to do naturally. And they are consciously managing their soils as ‘carbon sinks’, finding ways to lock carbon away in the soil through grazing, permanent planting or by using special annual crops. We like their style!

Like everything else with Better Food Traders, we’re only really at the beginning of our journey of making a big difference to soil health, but buying from these growers helps.

And isn’t it cool to know that every bag of veg you buy is helping a bit of soil in England live a little?

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