Climate Farming, the Agriculture of Hope


“Carbon levels in most agricultural soils have declined over the past 100 years, from some 5 percent to less than 1 percent in many places. These oxidative losses have degraded the structure, productivity, and resilience of these soils and their capacity to infiltrate, retain, and sustain water to cool climates.” – Walter Jehne, Healthy Soils Australia

“A lot of farmers are being educated about the capacity of soil to sequester carbon. It gets them excited to think that they can contribute to a reversal of climate change.” – Kate Duesterberg, Farm Manager, Cedar Circle Farm, Vermont

Soil health and climate stability are closely linked.  In the atmosphere, carbon exists as carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas warming the planet. But in plants, carbon forms a sugary liquid that is exuded through the roots and gobbled up by microbes. This infusion of carbon and the microbial activity it supports gives structure to soil, improves the nutrient density of food, and increases soil’s capacity to hold water.

A new and growing movement is inspiring farmers to produce food in a manner that can mitigate and even help reverse global warming. It is being called “climate farming, the agriculture of hope.” Techniques for climate farming include use of cover crops, no-till farming, and sequestration of carbon by returning carbon-rich material to the soil through composting.

With this in mind, we at Canillas asked Lebanon’s Department of Public Works for the leaves from Fall clean-up of Colburn Park.  Not only did they offer us the leaves , but they delivered them to our garden – three truckloads of dried leaves!  With funds from the Robert F. Church Charitable Fund, we purchased a leaf shredder, and yesterday, began the process of shredding those leaves. Some of the shredded leaves will be mixed with manure and added to the hugelkultur.  We will also experiment with a chicken wire,’silo’ of shredded leaves and manure, to be added to gardens in the springtime.

We have also purchased organic buckwheat seeds, to be used as a cover crop on raised beds  . . . a little too late to be useful this year (buckwheat likes warmer weather) but luckily, buckwheat seed is viable for many years.


Shredded leaves!

Two articles on this topic, source of much of the above info:

Awareness of this issue has been heightened through the Vermont Healthy Soils Coalition List Serve discussions. Formed in February 2017, the Vermont Healthy Soils Coalition are mostly Vermonters, representing grassroots activists, enthusiasts, organizations and businesses that work with or for the land and water, all volunteers with an interest in shifting the paradigm of how people interface with the land. We operate under the premise that we can restore land water cycles by covering Vermont’s bare soil; nurturing photosynthesis and the biology underground.

To join our brand new, still-forming group, fill out this quick survey []. Then, follow the instructions in the email confirmations that you’ll receive to join the listserv.  If you have any trouble, contact Cat Buxton at or Juan Alvez at


This entry was posted in Bright Ideas, Soil Health, What's New?. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Climate Farming, the Agriculture of Hope

  1. Rainie says:

    You community gardeners are an inspiration. I’m wondering if we should invest in a leaf shredder for our neighborhood in West Lebanon. Food for thought! Keep those good ideas coming, please!

  2. uvlocalvores says:

    Hi Rainie, We actually purchased the leaf shredder with the idea of lending it to others in our community. I’ll bet we can figure something out . . . once we have worked our way through the 3 truckloads of leaves!

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