Many of the changes we humans have made to our planet are obvious, but some are not; soil pollution can be invisible. When we began Canillas Community Garden ten years ago, we had no idea the soil was contaminated with lead (which is why we had to build raised beds and purchase healthy soil.) “Be the Solution to Soil Pollution” campaign for World Soil Day 2018 aims to raise awareness and call people to #StopSoilPollution.
Soils have a great potential to filter and buffer contaminants, degrading and attenuating the negative effects of pollutants, but this capacity is finite. Most of the pollutants originate from human activities, such as unsustainable farming practices, industrial activities and mining, untreated urban waste and other non-environmentally-friendly practices. As technology evolves, scientists are able to identify previously undetected pollutants, but at the same time some technological” improvements” lead to new contaminants being released into the environment.
Canillas Community Garden is an organic garden. We do not want pesticides in our food, in our soil, in our air, nor in our water. (NH law prohibits the use of pesticides within 50 feet of the Mascoma River.) To enhance the soil in our gardens we have set a number of guidelines and have made an effort to increase the health and carbon sponge-ability of our soil:
• Soil life is hard at work building underground structures that make life on land possible. We try not to disturb those underground structures with tillage.
• Soil life needs protection from heat, pounding rain, and wind. We keep soil covered year-round with shredded leaves and periodically add compost. (Thanks to Lebanon Public Works for delivering unsprayed shredded leaves from Colburn Park!)
• A diverse system is more resilient than a monoculture. We plant a wide variety of herbs, vegetables, and flowers to increase diversity in soil microorganisms, beneficial insects, and other species.
• Like any other living system, soil ecology will succumb to overwhelming stresses (such as excessive use of biocides, and compaction,) We are an organic garden and minimize chemical, physical, and biological stresses and have been working to protect our soil from pesticides used in our surrounding environment.
• A healthy landscape stores and filters water, cools the surrounding atmosphere, creates mist and clouds, and prevents flooding and drought. We try to keep the big picture in mind.
Each of us can do something to protect our soils.
*We can work to reduce toxins in our own lives and in our community.
*We can support farmers who use sustainable, regenerative methods.
* We can mow lawns less frequently, forego chemicals, and plant with pollinators, birds, and other creatures, and the “big picture” in mind..
* We can pick up plastic litter which breaks down into micro-particles in the air, soil, water, and our bodies.
*We each can play a role in reducing single-use plastics in our lives. Read more on the plastic issue at https://noplasticpollution.wordpress.com/2018/10/23/plastics-turning-up-in-organic-fertilizer-from-food-waste/