taking soil seriously

Fay here.  A LOT has been happening at Sidewalk Ends.  With our long-awaited soil tests in hand, we’ve decided that we will not be satisfied with soil that is merely safe for food-production.  The remarkable improvements that Than made in his soil at Front Step Farm over the course of just one season is an inspiration and also a challenge to build enviable soil.  With that in mind, we’ve embarked on an epic quest for organic material from wherever we can get it.  Last Saturday, our friends from Smithfield Peat paid us a visit and, after a lot of tricky maneuvering, they made a grand entrance:

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14 cubic yards of compost! but this is just the beginning.  Compost, manure, leaves, grass clippings, seaweed, coffee grounds: you name it, and we’ll be adding it to our beds.  This season, we’ll be putting more thought, energy, and resources into building a dynamic soil than into the food that will be coming out of our farm.  This might sound crazy, but you cannot grow healthy food without healthy soil.  In the words of Wendell Berry:

The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all.  It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life.  Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life… And this living topsoil–living in both the biological sense and in the cultural sense, as metaphor–is the basic element in the technology of farming.                                                                       (The Unsettling of America)

We plan to take soil seriously and to do all that we can to care for it properly.  Adding diverse organic matter to our beds, and using a broadfork instead of a tiller to maintain the integrity of the civilizations of micro-organisms that call our soil home, are just two ways that we will do this.   What’s more, over the course of the season we’ll be filling our four empty composters with kitchen scraps from Amos House, so that by next season we’ll have produced much of our  soil inputs right on the farm.  We’re particularly excited about how building soil can build relationships and we’re very happy to have Amos House as a partner in this endeavor.


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