You may be wondering why this green building blog has so many posts about food. In short, healthy soil creates healthy people to design healthy buildings.

Earth as a Living Organism

First of all, you should know I’ve spent a few years as an organic farmer. That direct experience working with the Earth in co-creation, not domination, or subjugation, changes you. I began to see the Earth for what it is; a living organism. Therefore, I resonated so deeply with this quote from a recent article about a farmer turned environmentalist:

“Our natural complex systems will self-organise themselves back to health. … The Earth itself it is a self-organising regulating system.” – Charles Massy


Human Health Impacts from Farming

Secondly, ‘green building’ certifications historically take into account the ripple effects of the built environment, say air pollution from transportation or water pollution from upstream manufacturing processes. But how often do we green building professionals think about the human health impacts from farming practices? Hardly ever! That’s why it’s in this blog.

Corporate Genocide?

What I want to share with you today may trigger some sensitive emotions. It’s a story from a farmer in Australia who is concerned that the corporate weed-killing giant, Monsanto, is essentially committing genocide against the entire human race. It’s a slow death by stripping nutrient density from our food through industrial farming practices involving heavy spraying of chemicals that depletes soil of its inherent aliveness. Read the full Guardian article here.

Low-Impact Farming DOES Exist

The ah-ha moment here is to recognize the opportunity to clean up and green up our farming practices. We can address it in exactly the same way we address green infrastructure in the built environment. By now, we are all familiar with low-impact development measures to mitigate stormwater in ways that replicate natural water systems. Wouldn’t you want to do this with food systems as well?

Awareness and Action

Unfortunately, it happen for the same reason people send recyclables to the landfill; ignorance and laziness. In our modern world, whoever has the biggest marketing budget wins the public opinion vote. But we need to start using our brains to filter information, not just blindly consume it.

Healthy Soil for Healthy People

A great resource for independent research on regenerative agriculture is the Rodale Institute.  They were the first to pose the idea that no-till farming can store carbon in the soil and basically solve the GHG crisis. What did it change? Unfortunately little, because most people still want $1 hamburgers. So this is some encouragement to vote with your dollars every time you open your wallet. Buying organic vegetables is as important for the sustainability of our planet as buying FSC certified wood, or recycled toilet paper. It’s time to start prioritizing soil health.