This month a group of us from the Moy Hill Community Garden went to the National Organic Soil Conference inClare Galway. It was a great turnout and the room was packed with organic growers eager to learn more aboutthe future of soil and how to help the land they grow on. For us it was one of the biggest eye openers when we began to realise just how important soil is yet how much we all mistreat it.
An organic farmer completely depends on their soil, without it he would be lost yet it is soil that many of us have come to distance ourselves from and respect the least. We no longer touch the soil with our bare hands, feel it between our toes, and smell its ancient richness. If soil could speak, oh, the stories it would tell! The generations of our own ancestors that lay beneath our feet, helping to sustain us today.
We trample it, drive ridges into it, and dig holes out of it,yet it is so forgiving of us. Until, one day it can no longer give, it can no longer feed our crops and ultimately…us. It has been said that we only have 60 harvests left on this earth, a terrifying prospect, unless we can start looking after our soil. In Ireland this death of soil is a lot slowerthan other places in the world but is still happening. Firstly because of the over use of chemicals on our land and secondly because of the lack of farmyard manure being put into the soil to keep it fertile. In Irish Gaelic ‘Talamh’ not only means ‘soil’ it also means ‘country’. Our soil is where we come from, it is part of us, it is part of our kindred, we cannot afford to lose such a precious element.
Last winter we spent weeks on end collecting seaweed and farmyard manure to spread over our land. Seaweed is not only a super food for humans but also for Mother Earth too. It is also one of the most abundant and free fertilizers you can find packed full of nutrients, trace elements, vitamins and alginic acids to keep our soil happy and healthy. Klaus Leitenberger at the soil conference spoke very wise words saying ‘we wouldn’t be here without it, we come from it and one day we shall return to it’ and this could not be closer to the truth.
We need to start giving back to soil now after all the life it has given us. There’s no better way to get your hands back into the earth than our workdays Saturday at the community garden and Tuesdays in the field at Moy house. Come down and bury your fingers in the soil, plant life within it or feed it. As we now know soil has a soul too, so look after your soil and it will look after you.
For more information on the garden visit http://www.growing.ie
By Sophie Bradford