My family has been after me for several years to write ‘The Dirt’ for our website. Starting is always the hardest part. The funny thing is, it’s not a rainy day, I plenty of other work to do; but today I felt called to begin. I have no idea where this endeavor is going to take me. I think I just feel like expressing my opinion on a slew of topics. I am going to try to stick to agriculture, both the culture of agriculture and unfortunately the politics of our modern food system. Lets start with some house keeping details. Please don’t expect me to provide a bibliography, which would take all the fun out of writing. Let’s just say that I am expressing my opinion on a topic that I am intimately involved in.
Dirt is the stuff we sweep under the rug. It’s the stuff that yellow journalists have fantasies about; it is not the stuff we grow your food in. Soil is the medium in which plants grow. The soil is probably the most complex ecosystem in the universe. It also one of the least understood. In a teaspoon of native grassland soil contains 600-800 million bacteria of up to 10,000 different species, several miles of fungi of 5,000 species, 10,000 protozoa of 5000 species, and 20-30 beneficial nematodes that are members of up to a 100 different species. This list does not include the big critters like earthworms. The 64-dollar question is what do all these little guys do and what happens to them when we start farming a soil?
Knowing the roles of this multitude of microscopic creatures is an area of science that we have barely touched upon. I see soil life as a population of communities working together to provide an environment of optimum soil health. This in return provides the plant with all that it needs for its health. Which provides us with all we need for our health. Yesterday I met Mr. Persey, a farmer who lives a few miles from here. He is an unassuming quiet man. He has lived his life with out notoriety at least until he had his 100th birthday. While walking through a spinach field he remarked, “that’s all the vitamins you ever need, don’t need no drug store. Mr. Persey is 101 years old I think I’ll take his advice.