Fall is already in the air, and to celebrate we've been out in the community with some of our favorite annual events!
At the Detmer Gardens Open House, we enjoyed educating attendees about soil health and composting, while also spending some time with our partners. The Monroe County Soil and Water Conservation District worked with the County's Parks and Recreation Department and the Purdue Cooperative Extension for the event. If you missed it this year, don't worry! We hope to make it an annual event around the beginning of fall each year.
Following the Gardens Open House, we quickly started preparing for one of the biggest fall events in the county - the Children's Farm Festival! The Children's Farm Festival is held every year at the Peden Family Farm and is packed with fun events. This year our friends at the NRCS joined us with their Soil Health Trailer to put on even more demonstrations for the kids. We believe there's no better way to learn than by experience - and by getting your hands dirty!
We're so grateful for everyone that joined us at our September events, and we can't wait to see what October brings!
Today we give it the recognition it deserves.
By Becca Vaughn
For those working with soil on a day-to-day basis, its importance is never overlooked. For those of us outside of the business, it’s easy to underestimate the power and value of what is beneath our feet.
In third grade, my class learned about plants and the nutrients soil gives them. Each of the children planted sweet peas in a small container to put in the window sill. We labeled them with our names and took time out of class to water and care for our plants. Near the end of the school year, we took them home as Mother’s Day gifts. At home, my mom propped mine up in the window above the kitchen sink and it died approximately two weeks later. That was the first of many plants I would throw away. This year, I dumped the two tomato plants, two strawberry plants, rosemary, parsley, and the oregano I had attempted to grow. Even my cactus died.
But you don’t have to plant a garden or even go outside to have a connection with soil. I have learned quite a few things since beginning my internship here at the Conservation District and one of the most fascinating is that everything—like, everything—we do is because of soil.
Maybe you are one of the 64% of Americans that had a cup of coffee this morning. But long before that coffee ends up in your mug, it’s being examined by soil scientists to help coffee bean farmers produce an efficient supply while protecting the health of the soil on which they (and my ability to get seemingly anything done in a day) rely. For many farmers—both in and outside of the coffee business—this focus on soil health is new, which is why organizations like ours and many, many others around the world exist to provide public education on how to improve soil and, in turn, our food and living conditions in the long run.
Or, maybe you skipped that morning coffee but had some eggs for breakfast. Or a bowl of cereal. Again, you can thank soil for that. Soil contains the vital nutrients for plant growth that result in both the crops we eat (fruits, vegetables, and grains) as well as the crops we feed animals to get our meat, dairy, and eggs. In fact, every meal you eat is thanks to soil and good soil health, since 95% of our food in the world comes from soil.
Soil is also key to addressing the changing climate and mitigating the damages expected to be seen in the upcoming decades. Many of the conservation practices funded through grants or assisted in through site visits with Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) are focused on increasing carbon and creating landscapes that will help farmers in the long run combat these changes and, therefore, continue ample production. “Practices such as cover crops and reduced/no tillage increase the carbon content of soils, increase water and nutrient retention, water infiltration, rooting depth, microbial activity, and decrease erosion” (NRCS). These are conservation practices that help the soil system and give back to not only our planet, but to ourselves and our children.
If there’s one overarching theme I’ve learned in the last few months, it is that it’s all a system working together. We covered that in my third grade class, too. But, it didn’t really sink in until I watched the seasons change not from the window of my apartment, but from the fields here in Monroe County.
Thanksgiving. A holiday that is perhaps best known for eating, drinking, and spending time with family. But here at the Monroe County Soil & Water Conservation District, we recognize the work and traditions that go into making that delicious feast that so many Americans give thanks over. From the farm to the table, Thanksgiving day meals are made possible by the farmers and producers across the nation to raise that turkey or grow the pumpkins to make a traditional pie.