NGL, I don’t have a green thumb.

Alright. I’ve gotta be honest. I’m really not that great at growing plants.

Outdoor or indoor, I have a lot of trouble keeping them alive. I’ve probably killed over a dozen indoor plants before finally deciding to stop getting more.

I’ve tried using my fiance’s indoor grow tent to grow some vegetables. They have NOT been thriving.

My outdoor garden does decent. I’m a pro with zucchini. But my carrots, tomatoes, and lettuce have all been disappointing.

I’m sharing this to let you know that IT IS OKAY if you can’t grow. You can still support local agriculture without growing foods yourself!

Consider joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). You can use this search engine/website to find one in your area! https://www.csacoalition.org/farm-search/

If you’re like me, you’ll keep on trying to be a great gardener. But, until then, we can all still enjoy the fruits of others labor 🙂

As always.

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

Soil and Energy

I often write on Energy, but my blog is “Bring Back Soil”, so you’d think my blogs would be mainly related to soil.

Well, Energy IS Soil. Soil IS Energy.

This is especially true for nonrenewables, the dominant source of our current energy supplies.

Oil and natural gas are fossil fuels. Fossil fuels come from ancient plant matter buried deep, deep underground. You guessed it, plant matter comes from soil. Thus, fossil fuels are soil.

Likewise, even renewable energy (wind, solar, hydro) require soil for us to harness it. We need a place to put the equipment (land use, on the ground aka soil).

Soil is the foundation for energy. And energy is the foundation for living things. They are the same thing.

Energy can either make or break us. It all depends on how we manage it. Just like soil can make or break us depending on how we manage it.

Soil and energy will always be closely linked because we need both in order to survive.

No, I am not saying we NEED computers, Nintendos, or microwaves to survive. But we do need energy for the most basic functions. We need energy as food to live, heat to maintain, and fire to cook.

It’s important to also be realistic about modern life and the ways we use energy. All of the energy that we use comes from soil.

Anyways, this is why I write so much about energy.

Okay!

That’s all for now.

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

Know Your Farmer

Today I’d like to talk about the power of knowing your farmer.

Most of us go to the grocery store, grab a cart, and start filling it with the things we need.

But how often do we stop and think about where these things COME FROM?

What has happened to the food? How did it get on the shelf? How long has it been around?

Usually, we just don’t think about these things.

I’m here today to suggest that you do. The only reason is because I, myself, have taken the time to find a farmer in my area and really get to know them and their operation.

There is something indescribable about eating feed that which you know its exact origin and treatment.

I’ve SEEN the grass the cattle eat. I’ve HELD in my hands the feed the chickens eat. I’ve EXPERIENCED the piggies grunging through the fields.

I’ve also had great conversations with the lady who grew, cooked, and jarred my jam. I know exactly where my veggies come from and eat them the same day they are harvested. My bread is baked fresh weekly in a wonderful woman’s kitchen.

My life is different now that all this has happened. When I eat, I’m not taking anything for granted. Once you see the time and dedication that goes into turning dirt into dinner, you stop trying to get the eating process over with as soon as possible.

Instead of overlooking the exact thing that makes us possible (food), get intimate with it. There is a feeling of peace, wholesomeness, true satiation, and relaxation when we really KNOW our food.

Find your farmers. Get to know them. Ask them questions. Step into the fields. Watch food come to life and happen. Your life will never be the same.

As always,

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

Control Your Energy Bill

We all want to save money, and there are plenty of ways to do so. I’m going to share with you a new way to save money that you may not have ever considered. I know I never have even heard of this until recently.

Every month, we pay our bills. Electric, gas, etc. Did you know, though, that you have more control than you think in regards to how much you pay for said gas and electric bills?

Yes. It’s true.

While your utility company is always your utility company, you can CHOOSE who supplies your energy to the utility company. The utility company only DELIVERS your energy to your home. They own the lines and the delivery service. A SUPPLIER, on the other hand, is the one who supplies the energy to your utility.

And you can choose the supplier! Each supplier has different rates and company features.

For example, IGS Energy, a privately owned energy supplier. IGS supplies 100% renewable energy, and carbon neutral natural gas. They only source energy from wind, hydro, sun. They fund a variety of projects that offset the natural gas emissions, like multiple reforestation and conservation efforts and waste to energy projects.

You can view the multiple suppliers in your area by doing a simple Google search. I recommend taking the time to do a little shopping for suppliers, as some of them might have a much lower rate than you’re paying now. Not to mention, they may carry out practices and values that more closely align to your lifestyle.

That’s all for now!

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

Save Your Fall Leaves

While it does not at all feel like fall where I live, fall is among us, nonetheless.

“Rake” will be on all our to-do lists before we know it. Before you pay for a trash tag and throw those leaves on the curb, though, think again.

Save those fall leaves! The BEST way to use them is to use them as mulch on your garden beds. These leaves are primo nutrients for the soil. This also makes them excellent brown material for your compost if you have one!

Using them as mulch also protects plants from the harsh winter freezes, making them more likely to come back next year.

My suggestion? Don’t even rake. Raking is actually totally unnecessary. Save yourself the labor and don’t even worry about picking up those leaves! They fall to the floor for a reason and provide rich nutrients to your lawn.

If you must, though, please don’t throw them in our landfills! They belong on the soil, not with a bunch of hazardous waste.

That’s all for now.

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

All Things Natural Gas

Natural gas (NG) is a fossil fuel. It is made up of compressed plankton that lived in an anaerobic environment, which is important because if oxygen were present, bacteria would have been able to consume the plankton.

Natural gas is stored deep underground, under the soil, water, loam and sandstone, in an area called a shale. The longer this fossil fuel is underground, the more compressed it is, and the fewer impurities are present – allowing this fossil fuel to be natural gas instead of oil.

Thus, NG is super pure, causing less emissions than other fossil fuels, and it is pretty efficient. 

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is when a deep hole is drilled vertically underground from a well, and then the pipeline hole shoots out horizontally, creating an “L” shape underground. This is beneficial because most deposits form in a horizonal shape. F

racking fluid is also injected underground via the whole at a rapid speed to create tiny cracks in the rocks that allow for more NG to be collected. The fracking fluid is mostly water, but also has proppant (like sand) to keep the cracks from being compressed by the material above, and a chemical mixture of substances like lubricants, bacteria killers, and other stuff to make the process easier. This fracking fluid is one of the main arguments against fracking. The NG rises up from the cracks and the hole up to the surface to be collected, also taking with it some of the contaminated water, also known as produced water (contaminated with heavy metals and radioactive materials that are hard to dispose of safely). 

NG is favored in the United States because it is cheap, especially now every since oil prices rose. Additionally, the US has huge reserves of NG underground, so much so that we have turned some of our importing stations into exporting stations. Another major argument for why NG is popular is because we have so much, we do not need to rely on outside countries for energy.

Some of the drawbacks are pretty significant, though.

As mentioned before, NG fracking uses fracking fluid, which is seriously hazardous when it comes back up with produced water. Disposing of it properly is expensive and not perfect because it can leak.

Also, fracking uses enormous amount of water, like 3-8 million gallons over each well’s lifetime. The water table is also at risk to leakage because the drilling goes past the water table, and leaking is possible, especially when unregulated. Companies are often unwilling to give away their “secret formula” for fracking fluid, making studying the effects difficult. The fact that the drilling is taking place so far underground is also difficult to study any ramifications. There are very few regulations, and they differ state to state, even though nature does not subscribe to the arbitrary state lines.  Earthquakes have also been connected to fracking, as the wastewater may lubricate fault lines. NG still emits CO2 and nitrogen oxide. It is a finite resource and may not always be cheap. Finally, transporting NG has been a major concern because it is mainly transported via pipelines, which can leak, especially methane which is a major greenhouse gas and fire hazard.

Whether we like it or not, NG is here to stay for the foreseeable future. It has many drawbacks, but all energy has its price. It is really a matter of how far we are willing to go for all our electricity luxuries.

As always,

In Soil We Trust

Tiffany

Agrivoltaics

Agrivoltaics may sound like a serious scientific phenomenon. It doesn’t even show up as a real word when I type it.

But, it is definitely a concept that is coming popular, fast. Some of the energy entering your home is very likely to be coming from agrivoltaic energy.

If we break up the words, “agri” stands for agriculture. “Voltaic” stands for solar voltaic energy,

Thus, agrivoltaics is the combination of agriculture and solar energy production.

Land use is becoming more and more of a competition nowadays between all of our human needs – agriculture and energy production being the two most straining.

So, to combat the lack of usable land, agrivolatics uses the same land for both solar production and agriculture. And, it’s a win-win.

Plants and animals get stressed from extreme heat and sun exposure. Panels aid them with shade.

Solar panels also offer already struggling food producers another source of income.

All in all, agrivolatics is something we will hear about and see more as our consumption climbs.

That’s all for now,

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

Earthships

Okay. Not gonna lie, when I first heard the term “Earthship” I thought the person was pulling my leg. I did not understand why these homes were called ships. I still don’t to be quite honest. Regardless, I am absolutely in love with these homes.

Earthships are essentially fully self-sustaining homes. After they are built, little to no inputs are required to provide comfort to those who live within the walls.

Speaking of walls, the main components of these buildings are used tires, used plastic and glass, and clay. Tires are a waste issue – this can be a blog post itself. As for the homes, the tires are excellent at insulation and protection from the elements. You might think old tires and plastic bottles might make up a pretty ugly house… but Earthships are actually beautifully constructed.

One of my favorite aspects of these homes is the self-reliance. Imagine not having a water bill, electric bill, or gas bill.

This diagram does a great job of describing the basics of how an Earthship works.

Water used in the home is collected rainwater, snow or condensation. The water runs through a filter (include plant filters) that allows the water to be used for drinking and other uses. The water caught goes through a cycle, shown below. Wastewater, or grey water (not been in a toilet) can be used for other household purposes like laundry or watering indoor, edible plants. Black water (that has been in the toilet) gets transferred far away from the home.

Earthships are electrically powered solely by renewable wind or solar. Some may receive their electricity from the grander grid, but most often people choose to keep their homes remote.

As for gas, Earthship’s building materials and design naturally keep them at a comfortable living temperature no matter the weather outside. The clay works with the ground temperature to keep the home at 70 degrees, and the building materials are superb insulators as mentioned before. Heating home no longer requires natural gas, and appliances can all be made electric.

Finally, Earthships typically have their own indoor growing area complimented with huge sun windows. No more buying veggies!

Earthships are illegal in most states. But, here’s a link to where you can find some to book a vacation, rental, or purchase: EarthshipVisitorCenter

As always,

In Soil We Trust

Tiffany

Citizens Climate Lobby

We all wonder about ways we can do our part to ensure a better future for our children, for society, and for the planet.

Well, I’m here to give you a way to do it that won’t drain your bank account or your time clock. It is called Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL).

CCL makes it easy to make your voice heard about climate change. Their main mission at the moment is to put a price on carbon.

This post is not intended to get into the nitty gritty. It is more so meant to get you intrigued about this easy way to make a difference. Members of CCL like to say “CCL” stands for “Contact Congress Lots”.

Here’s their website for more info! https://citizensclimatelobby.org/

CCL operates across the entire US and has opportunities for all to learn, grow, and educate themselves.

Consider CCL and all they have to offer!

As always,

In Soil We Trust

Tiffany

Ditch the Concrete – Choose a Forest Cemetery

Okay, I realize this is a sensitive topic for some. Not everyone is going to resonate, and that is totally okay. I respect everyone’s beliefs, opinions & feelings!

I wanted to share this option with people: Forest Cemeteries. How do they work? Well, a deceased person is first cremated, then their ashes are put into the base of a tree. The tree acts as the gravestone.

A truly peaceful place for your loved one’s memorial and resting place.

Why choose this? A couple reasons.

1. A cemetery offers a special, serene landscape for survivors to come visit those who have passed.

2. There is something special about knowing that even after life, you are in a way still part of an ecosystem.

3. Forest cemeteries are protected lands, just like conventional cemeteries. This means that by choosing this, you are actively contributing to conservation efforts.

4. Conventional cemeteries are proven to be very hazardous to the environment.

  • Both the Journal of Water & Health and the WHO report that cemeteries are one of the major sources human-related sources of pollution and contamination of water. Human bodies, over time, leach into the soil. Bodies may contain toxic chemicals like arsenic or formaldehyde (preservation/embalming), microorganisms like viruses or bacteria, and different chemical compounds from miscellaneous aspects such as pacemakers.
  • Conventional cemeteries also rely on fertilizers to maintain the grass. Forest cemeteries are able to thrive naturally.
  • Finally, conventional cemeteries use a lot of concrete. Concrete worldwide causes up to 8% of global emissions. Yikes! By reducing this even just a little can make some big changes.

Being buried in a traditional cemetery is no longer the only option. Check out Better Place Forests https://www.betterplaceforests.com/ for a glimpse of what one of these forests looks like & what they have to offer!

As always,

In Soil We Trust

Tiffany

Check out some of these resources to learn more:

https://iwaponline.com/jwh/article/13/2/285/28303/Impact-of-cemeteries-on-groundwater-contamination

https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/108132/EUR_ICP_EHNA_01_04_01(A).pdf;sequence=1

https://amp.theguardian.com/cities/2019/feb/25/concrete-the-most-destructive-material-on-earth