Grass, Soil, Hope- Solutions to Climate Change

Courtney White is the author of the new book Grass, Soil, Hope- A Journey through Carbon CountryA former activist and archaeologist, Courtney co-founded the Quivira Coaltion, a nonprofit dedicated to building bridges between ranchers, conservationists and environmentalists.

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In this interview Courtney talks with Jill Cloutier about the soil beneath our feet and how soil, plants, and the carbon cycle may be the most viable solution to climate change that we have. By implementing land management strategies that create the conditions for longterm atmospheric CO2 sequestration in our soils, we can participate in the carbon cycle in a beneficial way. Climate-friendly agriculture and grazing has the potential to create a healthier planet for all, with more nutritious food, improved ecosystem services, habitat protection, increased food production, water conservation and a remineralization of our soils and bodies.

Listen to Grass, Soil, Hope Podcast Episode Here

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Learn about how you can become a carbon caretaker. Let’s all work together to create healthy soil!

After listening to this episode you will gain a new appreciation for wetlands, bogs, grasslands and beavers!

If you’d like to see Courtney White in our documentary The Soil Solution To Climate Change click here. 

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Watch The Soil Solution Online

Sustainable World Media

The Soil Solution is now on Amazon and available as a rental and instant download. You can also purchase the DVD. The Soil Solution is our first film and we’re proud that we were some of the initial filmmakers that documented the potential that soil may hold in reversing climate change.

Why should you watch The Soil Solution? We made the film because we felt that it’s time to offer some solutions to the climate change crisis and to educate viewers about the relationship between soil and carbon.  After researching the many ways to build healthy soil, we decided to focus on grazing and livestock, because of the huge and mostly detrimental impact they have on soil fertility and carbon sequestration. We included regenerative farming in the first cut of the film, but decided to edit that section out since we wanted the film to be short and easily…

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The Climate Change Diet

I’m going on a diet. A Climate Change Diet. An eating regime that not only makes me healthier, but also affects the earth and ecosystem in beneficial ways. If enough of us signed up for the Climate Change Diet or Climate Diet, we might have a positive impact on the global climate crisis.

The Climate Diet differs from other diets in that I won’t be counting calories. I won’t be required to exercise anymore than I already do.  There are no restrictions as far as having to adopt a vegetarian, vegan or paleo diet. After being on the Climate Diet for a few months, I may not look any better in a little black dress, but chances are, I and future generations will continue to have many opportunities to wear that dress!

The Climate Diet is simple. You can do it if you grow your own food or if you purchase all or most of of your groceries from a store.

Here is its only rule:

Do your best to eat food that was grown in a responsible manner by someone who, through their growing methods, increases soil fertility.

That’s it. Buy food from someone who takes care of the soil. If you grow food, take care of your soil. Good land stewards have a direct influence on climate change because their agriculture and grazing methods directly affect the amount of carbon in their soil.

Farmers and ranchers can sequester excess carbon from the atmosphere and put it to beneficial use in soil through managed grazing, no or low till agriculture, cover cropping, composting, mulching and using bio-based fertilizers and soil amendments instead of synthetic toxins that harm soil fertility.

On the Climate Diet, you would most likely buy organically grown food and meat. Synthetic pesticides and herbicides decrease microbial life within the soil. A soil rich with microbes is alive and fertile. These microbes, especially mycorrhizal fungi, can increase the amount of carbon in the soil. Most of the world’s soils are carbon-depleted.  By choosing to eat the Climate Diet way, we are creating the conditions for soil carbon-sequestration to happen!

As an added bonus, when plants are grown in healthy soil, they are usually more nutrient rich, which is good news for our health. Plus, synthetic herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers are usually made of fossil fuels which have a devastating impact on our environment and contribute greatly to climate change.

If you eat meat, the Climate Diet means buying grass fed beef and other animal products from a ranch or farm where the animals are grazed in a way that increases grass growth, soil fertility and carbon sequestration. Grasses, especially perennial native grasses can act like big straws sucking carbon out of the air. The carbon can then be stored in the soil for a long time in the grasses’ long tap roots until it is disturbed.  In this type of land management, animal waste, instead of being a pollutant (like it is in crowded feedlots) becomes a natural soil amendment.

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However we do it, increasing soil fertility could be a giant step in reversing climate change.

Let’s adopt the Climate Diet and see what happens… our dietary choices might lead us to a greener, healthier world and a more stable climate.

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Agriculture As Art- PA Yeomans Exhibition Opens In Sydney

If you’re in Sydney, Australia don’t miss this agriculture as art exhibition.

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The Yeomans Project opens on November 28th at the Art Gallery of NSW. The exhibition highlights the work of Australian farmer and engineer PA Yeomans whose work is now used on farms throughout the world. Yeomans developed the Keyline System- an agricultural method that increases soil fertility, conserves water and regenerates land.

Ian Milliss and Lucas Ihlein, curators of the exhibition have gathered images, writing, films and educational videos as part of the exhibition.

We are delighted to announce that our five-part Keyline Design At The Beach Video Series with Permaculture Designer and Keyline expert Darren Doherty will be included in The Yeomans Project.

The exhibition will also feature an old Yeomans Plow, books and artifacts lent by PA Yeomans’ daughters, a large chalk map of one of Yeomans’ properties, live discussions and a Field Trip to an early Yeomans experimental farm outside of Sydney (free, but bookings required).

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MULCH- Good News for You and the Soil

Mulch Magic. Our friend and teacher Dr. Mike Gonella demonstrates the art of mulching.

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MULCH- what a descriptive word for an excellent method that keeps your garden healthy and your plants thriving. Mulching is an easy cost-effective way to recycle green waste, hydrate your garden beds and soil and increase the population of  soil food web inhabitants .

Mulching mimics what happens to plant materials that fall onto a forest floor. Leaves and other plant debris are decomposed by the soil organisms, including the mighty FBI- fungi, bacteria and invertebrates.  Adding a layer of mulch to your garden, about 4″ high, keeps these critters on site; improving your soil with their presence and activities.

When you mulch, you are stacking functions, a concept found in Permaculture. Mulching not only increases the fertility and moisture content of  your soil, it also alleviates weeds, so you don’t have to pull the weeds out yourself or use toxic herbicides.

What can you use for mulch? Pretty…

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Permaculture Basics For Gardeners

Earth Care. People Care. Fair Share. The three ethics of Permaculture can be used in your garden to make your plants and soil thrive. Permaculture design is based on the observation of nature and when applied in your garden can increase crop yields, improve plant and soil health and lessen your work load.

To learn  how to apply Permaculture design in the garden, I spoke with Christopher Shein, a Permaculture teacher, seed saver, gardener and activist. Christopher is the author of the Vegetable Gardener’s Guide To Permaculture: Creating An Edible Ecosystem.

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Christopher Shein

Click here to listen to my interview with Christopher on Sustainable World Radio.

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Wake Up And Smell The…Spruce?!

Black Spruce, Latin name Picea mariana, is my new BFF.  I’ve never met a Black Spruce in person, but I’ve been spending my mornings with its essential oil and I think it’s making me a better person.

Native to North America,  Black Spruce is a coniferous evergreen and slow-growing tree that grows up to 25m tall. The needles (and sometimes the twigs) of the tree are used to make its essential oil. Essential oils are concentrated liquids extracted from plants. Black Spruce oil has an uplifting, clearing and purifying fragrance that seems to wake me up and calm me down at the same time. I learned about Black Spruce essential oil at an Aromatherapy seminar that I recently attended in San Rafael, California taught by Kurt Schnaubelt and Monika Haas of the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy (PIA).

The seminar was a fragrance lovers’ dream. Oils would be introduced, pictures of the plant would be shown and then, for the pièce de résistance, smell strips would be passed out and enjoyed. (Mostly enjoyed, a few of the oils weren’t as pleasant to smell.) We learned and talked about over 50 oils, including some I’d never heard of in my long decades of using these amazing plant extracts including Cape Chamomile, which smells like Spring and Hyssop decumbens, so light and friendly an oil, that I now count it as a favorite.  Continue reading

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Growing Fish and Plants Together…In A Parking Lot

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On our first visit to Santa Barbara Aquaponics, we weren’t sure what to expect.  When we heard that Kevin Childerley and Randy Turner were growing vegetables and raising fish in a parking lot, we wanted to see for ourselves how Aquaponics, a closed loop system works.

When we arrived at the site, we were greeted by Kevin Childerley, an enthusiastic and entertaining Aquaponics proponent. “Welcome to Santa Barbara Aquaponics!” he told us as he opened the gate to let us in. “This is our first system. We’re trying things out and seeing what works and what doesn’t.” Kevin then led us over to a tank, filled with Channel Catfish which we observed with an “AquaScope.” (a plastic tube Kevin made that’s used to view the fish underwater.)  The fish looked healthy and were actively swimming about. Kevin explained that the fish poop is filtered in a bio-filter and is then…

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