For several years now I have been sent articles on soil, on carbon and carbon sequestration. I have been invited to workshops, listened to soil scientists and read articles. I can’t say I am an expert, far from it in fact, but what I do know is that soil matters! How we treat it, what we take from it and what we give back is critically important. When Just Roots got started we inherited some pretty tired land and we began our stewardship by giving back through the application of amendments to improve the health of our soil – soil we hoped would grow a lot of fresh, local, healthy vegetables for our community.
Over the years we have used fertilizers such as soy and fish emulsion. We cover crop with peas and oats and buckwheat. We rotate fields. This year we were able to add a low-till implement called the Perfecta to our fleet of equipment to minimize our impaction on our fields. Thank you to the Harold Grinspoon Foundation for the grant that made the purchase of the Perfecta possible. Thank you to Pedula Brothers in Greenfield for supplying the equipment.
About a month ago I was contacted by a member of our community, Dorothea. She had moved away but was in town for a visit. She emailed asking if I had heard about the soil carbon proxy testing that NOFA was offering. I had not, but always wishing I had more time to think about and consider what more Just Roots could be doing for our land, I opened the link and read on. I learned it is a series of tests designed to be run on the same site–over time–to measure the levels of biodiversity and other aspects of soil health that are related to building carbon in the soil. The tests can help farmers determine if their growing practices are succeeding at storing carbon and restoring soil health.
Dorothea went a step further and offered to gift Just Roots the price of the test. Meryl sent in our paper work and we scheduled the testing day. Today is the day! Caro from NOFA was here at Just Roots taking measurements and a close look at our soil. Careful to test in one area (a hole will be dug 1 ft x 1 ft) she looked closely at the soil, at the roots, at the bugs – at things I don’t know about, but Caro does. She will take soil home with her and conduct further tests and then get me a report that I will share with Meryl and our whole Just Roots team so we will know more about the soil that grows our food. Over the years we can retest and see how we are fairing. NOFA is keeping a database of these results and hopes to be able to better understand what is happening, to compare and contrast, to learn and educate and to help us be better land stewards.
Thanks to Dorothea and to Nancy Hazard who have kept a pulse on carbon sequestration and continued the conversation with me and Just Roots about what more we can/should be doing. And thank you to NOFA for this program. I eagerly await the results.
Jessica Van Steensburg