It all starts in the soil. Soil is one of the most valuable resources on earth and it is essential to our survival. Without healthy soil, crops wouldn’t grow, and water wouldn’t be able to filter properly.
“The soil is the great connector of our lives, the source and destination of all.” – Wendell Berry
Since purchasing the Gaia Farm in Brevard, North Carolina over 20 years ago, we’ve been dedicated to sustainable farming methods that improve soil health. In 2018, Gaia Herbs formalized our Regenerative Farming Program, which included comprehensive soil analysis and testing that confirmed our soil management practices have yielded very high soil organic matter on the Gaia Farm.
Why Soil Health Matters
Carbon traps heat, raising global temperatures, but soil is able to trap this carbon. Building the organic matter of the soil allows plants to effectively utilize CO2 as food, removing it from the air and capturing it in the soil. The higher the soil organic matter, the more potential for the soil to act as a carbon “sink.” By farming our land organically, we capture approximately 1,225 tons of CO2 every year.
Here’s A Look at Our Regenerative Farming Practices That Improve Soil Health:
- Cover Cropping: We practice continual cover crop rotation throughout the year.
- Soil Budding: After harvest, we turn any plant residuals back into the soil.
- Herb Crop Rotation: We rotate our crops annually, or every other year, to prevent nutrient depletion, systemic disease, and pest pressure.
- Biodiversity Management: We plant an average of 3 million plants a year, representing 20-30 species of medicinal herbs and 125 species of fruits, vegetables, and flowers to support pollinator habitat, which supports a strong and balanced ecosystem.
- Soil Fertility Plan: Throughout the season, we apply a simple blend of plant-based ingredients that act as probiotics for the soil.
These practices promote crop resiliency, encourage biodiversity, secure the supply chain, protect the purity of groundwater, produce nutrient dense plants, and fight climate change.
Ways You Can Improve Soil Health
You don’t have to be a farmer to improve soil health. If you have a garden or an interest in homesteading, here are some simple ways you can improve soil health.
- Spread organic compost over the soil: Full of nutrients, organic compost is gold. Compost feeds the soil and encourages it to break down and absorb nutrients.
- Avoid soil compression: Make clear garden paths to avoid stepping on your soil. When the soil is compressed, fewer organisms can grow.
- Plant cover crops: Cover crops are plants grown specifically for the protection and enrichment of the soil, not for yield. Cover crops can prevent the spread of weeds, pests and diseases, while helping to promote soil fertility, manage soil structure, reduce erosion and provide harborage for beneficial insects through the winter.
- Use coffee grounds: Collect coffee grounds and sprinkle them on the soil. This is an easy way to add nitrogen-rich amendments.
- Add a layer of hay to the soil: Hay can be excellent mulch for the soil.
Get Your Hands in the Dirt
Simply taking the time to connect with soil and the earth can improve not only soil health, but your own health as well. There’s a natural antidepressant in soil that may stimulate serotonin production, which can make you feel relaxed and happy.* As you begin to amend and improve your soil, you may also notice a change within yourself.