On a frozen Montana evening in mid-December a few dozen individuals gathered around a virtual “fireside chat” with the aim of digging deeper and cultivating new ideas for the health of Montana’s soils and communities. This gathering of Northern Plains members and other stakeholders from all across the state interested in the stuff beneath our feet represented a range of perspectives. The attendees included soil scientists, land managers, farm land leasing agents, educators, outreach coordinators, and a diverse group of agricultural producers or business owners. Participants reflected on the past eight years of soil health events Northern Plains has hosted and took stock of the impact we’ve had thus far.
Some important reflections surfaced that will help guide Northern Plains’ future soil crawl events. Together we learned that basic regenerative agriculture education is still needed. The group reflected that an individual producer’s context matters, and a community approach to learning is integral.
Attendees encouraged each other with a reminder that the most important thing to do is begin, and there are many introductory and affordable soil tests. Even though attendees recognized the gap in resources that presents challenges for some folks interested in monitoring and improving their soil health, the participants also stressed the importance of reaching out for help to educational institutions and others in their local communities.
This event also served as a “soft launch” for our community soil health resources web page! Visitors can learn more about the six principles of soil health, watch our soil summit, find a helpful reading list and more. You can visit that page here.
We are also excited to be working with Senator Butch Gillespie (R-Ethridge) on SJ 9: A Joint Resolution establishing Montana Soil Health Week & Day! This resolution provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance and benefits of soil health as well as celebrate the producers and businesses who are doing innovative work to foster healthy soils. We want to ensure that our agricultural lands and the people who care for them can thrive for generations to come.
Soil is the foundation of Montana’s leading industry ‒ agriculture. Celebrating, honoring, and protecting one of our most valuable natural resources helps ensure that agriculture can continue to be an economic driver for the state for future generations. The vitality of Montana’s food, water, economy, and environment are rooted in the health of Montana soils. These soils, and the people who steward them, have the ability to grow nutritious food for our communities and keep our waterways clean. Yet every year our soils are lost or degraded because their value is overlooked. Everyone in Montana is impacted by the health of our soils and stands to benefit from the strong climate and food security that healthy soil provides.
This Resolution would allow a diverse group of soil health advocates to gather together to celebrate, educate, build capacity and raise awareness about why protecting soil is important to human, environmental, and economic health. We hope that you’ll join us in supporting Montana’s agricultural communities by asking your legislator to vote YES on SJ 9, the Montana Soil Health Joint Resolution! To learn more about how to support the Montana Soil Health Week Resolution, our soil crawls, or to access our soil health resources web page, email Gusty at email@example.com.