Cows in the autumn fields on the Yeo Valley Organic farm Cows in the autumn fields on the Yeo Valley Organic farm

Restore our earth and think about soil this Earth Day

Wednesday 21st April 2021

Earth Day is the world’s largest environmental movement with over a billion people in 192 countries participating each year, building momentum towards a more environmentally conscious life. 

This year’s Earth Day focusses on “Restore Our Earth,” highlighting the natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems, one of the farming systems being featured is regenerative farming something that we’re passionate about.

As organic dairy farmers we’re used to working with nature and our overriding message is to put nature first. The potential ability of regenerative farming to be part of the solution for mitigating climate change is hugely exciting, “in a way this is returning organic to its grass roots and the fundamental choice of soil not oil, as a basis of producing food” say owner Tim Mead.

We fundamentally rely on soil. It produces 95 percent of our food, be it the crops we eat, or grasses and other plants to feed animals for meat and restoring our soil through regenerative organic farming is key to our future.

regenerative farming cycleAnd just one aspect of the goodness in the ground is its ability to store carbon. To grow, plants need not only minerals from soil, but also carbon dioxide from air in order to make food by photosynthesis – and some of this carbon goes into the ground. Soil stores an extraordinary amount of carbon – three times the amount in the atmosphere and twice the amount in trees and forests. While soil can store or ‘sequester’ carbon, it can also lose it when degraded. The loss of the carbon in poor soils contributes to the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, one of the gases that causes climate change. By allowing a rich-open structure full of micro-organisms and life in soil, such as soil found in regenerative farming, rainwater can seep into the ground, storing moisture for plants and preventing flooding. An important function as global warming makes extreme and uncertain rainfall more prevalent in the UK and around the rest of the world.

We think soil should have superpower status – watch our video to find out why. The Sustainable Soils Alliance (SSA), set up to raise the awareness of the importance of soils and lobby for their protection, says: “soil is crucial to the health of everything else”, says Ellen Fay, SSA co-founder. “We can’t deliver on any of our environmental targets if we don’t deliver for soil, and we’re still a long way from doing that.” We will continue to champion the importance of the soil and to produce nutritious food created by nature, for our own health, the health of our soil, the health of our wildlife and the planet.

How you can get involved?Gizzi Erskine holding soil from Yeo Valley Organic farm

Soil is unappreciated, to know more is to care more – not only in terms of where are food comes from but also by recognising soil as a common good that matters to us all.

Why not…

WATCH – the powerful documentary Kiss the Ground, available on Netflix and other channels, shows how soil and regenerative farming can help save the planet, and how all of us can get involved in different ways.

VISIT – an online community hub uksoils has been set up to signpost resources, including home and school activities for children and guidance for cooks, gardeners and farmers.

LISTEN – to the award-winning podcast Farmerama shares the voices and ideas of the regenerative farming movement. Or hear from Tim Mead about how we farm in the Valley when he caught up with the Sustainable Food Trust in their podcast.

LOOK – Take part in the Soil Association’s worm count, look for worms in your soil and report your findings #wormhunt (closes on April 30). Also find out more about why worms are so important and how you can protect your soil at home. And look out for labels such as organic, biodynamic, Pasture for Life and LEAF as examples of certification schemes that are centred on the environmental aspects of food when you’re shopping.

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