Blog # 11- Soil to Soil
All life is born of the soil. The term “dust to dust” is a mere reality that knowing the end-point of our existence is not really an end at all, rather part of a natural life cycle. The ancient cycles of reciprocity within the recycling and regeneration of our ecosystem services is one of great interest to us here on our farm and we can’t help but feel a greater purpose in our role in preserving this cycle.
When we began our farming journey just over a decade ago, we started on soil that was barely a few inches deep.
We have had the experience of ill livestock that, when not rotationally grazed and mimicking these natural cycles, fell to parasites and poor forage. We witnessed crop failure and low yields even here in our very own gardens. On a global scale, we are seeing the negative effects of large-scale production of food, clothing and other textiles in ways that not only take from the soil, but destroy the life within it. Nutrients, soil structure and the ability to hold water is disappearing at alarming rates across the globe. Barron soils are unable to retain water, store nutrients, including carbon or support the growth of anything. What's even more striking is the inability to put back into the soil our worn-out clothing. Once made of natural compostable protein fibers, the majority of our clothing is now comprised mostly of petro-based microfibers, reportedly observed in every watershed on our planet today.
Over the years, we as farmers have learned many hard lessons. But alas, we have learned. Sheep that are able to graze nutrient-rich, diversified pastures have lower parasite loads and are able to exist within the cycles of reciprocity in their most natural state. This all begins with healthy soils.
The farmer takes care that the fields are not overgrazed using a rotational grazing plan specific to the needs of the land. The sheep graciously replenish the soil with their manure and light aeration from their hooves. Pastures are assessed for plant diversity and reseeded with a healthy blend of plant species native to the region that have the power within their roots, in combination with mycorrhizal fungi, to fix nitrogen (a key ingredient necessary for optimal sheep health) such that the plants can take it up into their roots and even sequester (put back into the soil) atmospheric carbon.
Healthy sheep produce healthy fiber and in turn, with care and skill, create high-quality wool garments that keep us warm and dry for generations and eventually, return back to the soil for decomposition and repurpose.
The importance of a good, healthy soil in textile production cannot be overstated and the soil-to-soil composition of our textiles requires that these fabrics can be restored to the earth once again. In her book Fibershed, Rebecca Burgess describes this as:
“Decomposition is nature’s way of turning expired life into new life; nothing is lost, nothing pollutes, nothing is thrown away” (2019).
The vitality of our planet demands that this process be nature-inspired through ancestral nutrient cycling using materials that are forever reborn.
What does this look like in our current socio economic landscape? Well, if we throw in a pandemic amidst the chaos, I see great opportunity for farmers and landowners to invest in their land as a way to holistically serve their local communities. Pairing diversified farming with rotational grazing and holistic livestock management, we can see our way out of this AND feed and clothe everyone. Local dollars will stay local. Communities will become stronger and future generations will be blessed with the abundance that comes from healthy, living soil.
How you can help:
1. Purchase only clothing that you need from textiles that are not derived of petroleum (ie. nylon, spandex, acrylic… to name a few).
2. Support your local farmers by purchasing wool, cotton and other fibers directly from their farm. Your financial investments help farmers care for the land in sustainable ways, and keep your dollar local, directly and positively impacting your neighbors, not lining corporate pockets.
3. Start local discussions in your communities, with your local farmers, local government etc. and inspire local action in building healthy local economies around regenerative agriculture.
Want to learn more about the Soil to Soil Regenerative Fiber Movement? Check out the previous 3 blog posts within this series! I have also included recommended links below Let's start building!
Regenerative Wool Series:
Sara and Kris Kingsbury combine passion and skill in living out their soul-fueled vision founded in intentional presence in creative processes using home-grown fiber and wood craft on their 18 acre sheep farm in rural Vermont. We're so happy you are here growing, learning and living the dream with us! Subscribe on our homepage to join our email newsletter and receive the latest updates from the hollow!