By SARAH EARLE Valley News Staff Writer Tuesday, February 26, 2019 The key to saving the Earth might very well be ... the earth.
The “little e” earth that lies beneath our feet (and, right now, varying amounts of snow) is mightier than many of us realize — or can be, if we treat it properly, said Cat Buxton, steering committee member of the Vermont Healthy Soils Coalition and organizer of a six-week series of discussions about soil-related topics beginning on Wednesday at the Bethany Church in Randolph.
“Soil touches everything. Of course it does. We’re dust to dust,” said Buxton, a Sharon resident who conducts workshops and provides consulting services on gardening, composting and community-building around local food systems throughout the region. “We all need to understand the really basic principles of soil and water health ... When we explain this information to people, they feel energized, empowered. They get ideas, they become innovative, they want to work together.”
And working together is critical, Buxton said. Conversations about climate change often focus on only one piece of the problem or one potential solution at a time, or fixate on wedge issues that stall progress. Not only does soil provide, well, common ground for people to discuss the health of the planet and its inhabitants, it can serve as a metaphor for what can happen when they do. In organizing the soil series, Buxton said she wants to create a “social mycelium” that mimics the collective intelligence that thrives underground.
In healthy soil, an astonishingly complex network of bacteria, protozoa, fungi and other organisms conducts numerous unseen tasks that are essential to the health of the visible world: decomposing organic compounds, sequestering nitrogen, helping the soil absorb excess water, eating pests that harm crops, and acting as food for some above-ground species. The fungi network in particular, known as mycelium, actually allows plants to “communicate” with each other, according to recent research.
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