Written By Chris Kerston
We took our Soil Manifesto to Paris during the COP21 climate talks and were in awe of the support that we received from other organizations as well as the people in the streets. The diversity of people supporting the manifesto included city workers, farmers, university professors, other NGO’s as well as government representatives. It was exhilarating to see people rally around healthy soil management as a solution to so many of society’s current problems including world hunger, poverty, water shortages and climate change. Soil is humanity’s most precious resource and it’s incredibly refreshing to see it start to get the attention it deserves.
Many of the outdoor events that we had planned on participating in were cancelled for security reasons after the terrorist attacks in Paris a few weeks earlier, but that didn’t stop us from reaching out to the people. We spent one whole day at a farmers market talking with farmers about issues in their region. They were very supportive of the Soil Manifesto and agreed that more needed to be done to highlight the importance of soil and to incentivise better soil management for farmers around the world. The theme of each discussion centered around an agreement from the French farmers at the market that agriculture cannot continue to be extractive.
One day we were privileged with the opportunity to go out to the country and spend a day with a farming family that is pioneering large-scale no-till agriculture in France. The father farmed mostly grains and legumes on over 1,000 acres and his son had more land in the next town over. They brought some university professors there as well and we spent the day digging in the soil and talking about their management. Currently they still rely heavily on herbicides as a way to knock down cover crops, but they were exploring other mechanical methods to remove the biomass before planting their crops. They had heard of farmers like Gabe Brown but weren’t sure how grazing could be implemented into their own crop rotation. We talked extensively about what grazing planning is and introduced them to the work of fellow pasture-cropping experts like Colin Seis. They admitted that they had a lot to learn and were very open to new ideas. We united on the common ground of their immense passion for healthy soil management as being the key to increased product quality and their financial viability.
Another day, we attended an alternative living festival one day that celebrated everything from tiny houses, to homesteading, to food production, to alternative energy. It was great to feel all the energy among the local French people while relating on so many issues regardless of what our country of origin was. There was so much passion among the people to make changes in their own lives to be part of the solution. Even through broken English and French, it took no time at all for people to vehemently agree that soil is life, soil will save us and consumer buying habits can help shape how the soil is managed.
The folks at Kiss the Ground, co-signers of the Soil Manifesto, worked collaboratively with many organizations at COP21 to get “The Soil Story” projected up on the Eiffel Tower. This was so symbolic of the gathering as a whole as for the first time governments, urbanites, and farmers were rallying behind soil like never before.
The trip was extremely fruitful and we reconnected with many soil compatriots and also made some new friends striving to redefine agriculture and soil management. Regardless of how governments perform on this, the people are ready to act. See the video below where we filmed the start of one of many public rallies taking place around the city where people gathered to let the world know that cutting fossil fuel emissions is a must, but that we simultaneously must also change the way we produce our food. If we truly look at the global situation holistically it’s very clear that climate change, mass emigration, food and water shortages, and terrorism are all interconnected symptoms of a larger systemic problem.
Simultaneously, our Savory Network Hubs have been hosting Soil Manifesto signing events around the world. From Boulder, CO to South Africa to the United Kingdom, the Savory Network activated their communities and celebrated the importance of soil and united their voices by signing the Soil Manifesto. Photos from the global events can be found here.
Join us in signing the soil manifesto to show your support and we will continue to take this message to our connections and the UN and other political organizations to show them that the public is demanding more to be done.