The State of Our Soil
“Soil is an ecosystem in itself,” writes Ellie Athanasis, “made up of mineral particles, water, air, plant roots, organic matter, earthworms, lice, spiders and of course microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi.” Our current global soil condition is alarming; failure to protect our soils has resulted in the loss of 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil each year. Referring to the Soil Atlas, a jointly published work by Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Athanasis emphasizes the importance of farmers’ role in soil fertility and advocates for the agricultural methods that have traditionally been used by smallholder farmers around the world. In recognition of 2015 being the International Year of Soils, as designated by the United Nations, Athanasis sees resources like the Soil Atlas as critical material in “creating movement to drive the changes that are needed” and groups such as La Via Campesina as fundamental in uniting smallholder farmers in the face of industrial agriculture. With this kind of reinforcement, the importance of soil will remain in the forefront of the discussion around resilient and sustainable food and farming.