Healthy Soils: The Center of All Things

    March 14, 2017

By Liz Whitehurst
Owl’s Nest Farm, Upper Marlboro

I think soil is amazing, and if I could talk about it all day, I’d be thrilled. In my mind, soil is the center of all things. At Owl’s Nest Farm, our top goals are to increase soil organic matter and be financially sustainable. As a Fair Farms partner, I’m glad the campaign is supporting proposed legislation to help farmers like us do just that.

IMG_0809Del. Dana Stein (D-Baltimore County) has introduced a bill to create the Maryland Healthy Soils Program. House Bill 1063 would provide technical assistance, research, education, and—hopefully, in the future—financial incentives to farmers who implement practices that contribute to healthy soils. This means practices that increase the biological activity of soil and its organic matter, as well as those that sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The bill just passed the House, but it still needs to get through the Senate.

Will you join me in asking your state senator to support the Maryland Healthy Soils Program?

The goals of the Maryland Healthy Soils program mirror what we are trying to achieve on our farm. We work to maintain soil fertility by rotating crops, planting cover crops, and applying organically-approved fertilizers and micronutrients. The products we use include blood meal, fish emulsion, compost, lime, kelp, and a number of mineral supplements. As new and beginning farmers trying to make ends meet, the prospect of financial and technical support for our work towards healthier soil is very important to us. Hopefully, this program will be equally exciting for conventional farmers too.

After all, the more support farmers have to explore and adapt to new techniques, within the context of the model their farm already uses, the more they will be open to transitioning away from practices that do not promote good soil health.

I became a farmer because I have a passion for social justice. I want to contribute to a healthier ecosystem, and a more equitable and healthy food system.

I’m lucky I can do this while being outside and in touch every day with the seasons and nature, as well as in community with other local farmers and the people who eat my food. In my mind, a Maryland Healthy Soils program speaks to these values.

I thank you for your support in helping it to become law.




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