My first reaction when reading this blog prompt was one of disagreement. Honestly, when their are so many kids out there that don’t even know that a carrot comes out of the ground- trying to raise awareness about soils seems like to far of a leap from some more pressing issues. As an organic gardener and farmer, I’d be the first among us to argue that soil management is incredibly important- but I have to disagree that it should be a forefront issue for organizations to focus on. I feel like there are so many other more basic and important issues to get people to open their minds too- soils might be too far of a stretch.
With that said, one area that I think has an obligation to address soil issues is that of international development/aid organizations. Brown lays out pretty clearly how our conventional agriculture system has led to depleted topsoils, declining productivity, abandonment of farm land, desertification, and sedimentation of rivers and waterways. Seeing first hand the negative effects of our current systems, I think we need to do more to make sure that developing nations don’t make the same mistakes that we did. Its a similar parallel with developing nations walking in our footsteps as far as fossil fuel reliance is concerned: we can’t export such a unsustainable development paradigm. With hunger and poverty being such a demanding issue- it is hard to argue that the techniques of the Green Revolution should be put on hold to develop a more holistic, and productive in the long term, approach. However I think the trends in ag need to take a 180 and reverse back to smaller, more diversified production.
One organization I’d like to highlight as far as this approach is concerned is Tillers International- based out of Michigan. Their mission is “to preserve, study, and exchange low-capital technologies that increase the productivity of rural communities.” They do hands on training with rural communities to reintroduce lost skills- I first heard of them because a lot of what they do revolves around using animal power. But not only do they educate about the uses of draft power, a huge component of their work involves distributing plans to make yokes, blacksmithing tools/equipment components, and more advanced skills such as wheel making. The work they do is just a drop in the bucket as far as impact is concerned, but slowly they are sowing the seeds of resiliency and agricultural independence in rural, developing nations.