Soil and Nature

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From the grassroots up, people are restoring the health and productivity of the land and enhancing their livelihoods through holistic management. The Soil and Nature track will dig deep into the ways we can better feed our communities and feed the soil in which all life depends.

Track Facilitators: Sallie Calhoun, Nikki Silvestri

PART A: The Dirt on Soil

In Part A we will examine how food systems can serve a region. In this session, we’ll explore how regenerative agricultural practices can serve the planet.

There is a growing body of science showing that we can reverse the amount of carbon in the atmosphere by modifying our agricultural and ranching practices. According to research by the Rodale Institute, if instituted universally, organic regenerative techniques practiced on cultivated land could offset over 40% of global carbon emissions; doing so on pastureland could offset 71% — together this could reduce more than 100% of current emissions! If this shocks you – and thrills you - come learn about one of the most beautiful and hopeful paths ahead!

We need carbon out of our atmosphere and out of our oceans where it is acidifying them, but we need it in our soil to get that dark black, carbon-rich soil required to sustain life on earth.

Carbon soil sequestration is one of the most promising solutions emerging and its expansion should be on the top of the agenda for food systems advocates, conservationists and environmentalists. Carbon-rich soil means more nutrient-dense crops, better water quality and retention, and stronger rural economies that depend on the productivity of the land. In this session, we will chart a course together on how we can bring this exciting solution home.

PART B: Restoring Local Foodsheds

Fifty years ago the majority of fruits and vegetables came from the surrounding areas to where they were eaten. Since that time, much of the infrastructure for that kind of local growing and production has been lost. Then, is it possible today to feed an entire city, say North America’s largest, locally? This session will cover the partnerships, policies, new infrastructure, and skills training underway to answer this question.

From the Northeast to the Southwest, we will look at building a healthy food system that is sustainable and climate-resilient.  We will go into practical details on the large scale model being cultivated in the Hudson Valley of New York with a plan to produce all the food that NYC needs.