Cultivating Fertile Soil, Generating Resilient Communities

What do our current agricultural practices say about us both individually and collectively? How do we understand the social needs and demands of our local agricultural economy, the natural constraints of ecology, and the political imperatives of democracy? The Natural and Cultural History of Soil project is organized around these questions and is designed to educate the public about soil as the foundation of a healthy food system and society.

The program features two books on soil by the scientist, author, and Macarthur Fellow, Dr. David R. Montgomery. Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations chronicles how we have long been using up Earth's soil. Drawing on history, archaeology and geology, Dirt traces the role of soil use and abuse in Mesopotamia, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, China, Europe, Central America, and the American West. Dr. Montgomery’s most recent book, Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life, introduces readers to the recent rise of no-till farming and the hope for a new agricultural revival.

Fifty copies of Dr. Montgomery’s books will be made available for community members to borrow at the Keene Public Library (no card needed) and the Walpole Conservation District office. Leading up to a visit by Dr. Montgomery in early November, there will be a film showing of Gene Rosow’s Dirt! The Movie, and a roundtable book discussion led by Dr. Mark C. Long, Professor of English and American Studies at Keene State College, and former president of the Association for the Study of the Literature and Environment. 

The Natural and Cultural History of Soil is designed to connect people, ideas, and the land. Supported in part by a New Hampshire Humanities Community Project Grant and in partnership with Keene State College, this series of events is sponsored by the Cheshire County Conservation District as part of its mission of working with the farming community to improve management practices that enhance soil health and viability, and educating the general public about why soil health is critical for a healthy food system.

For more information, contact Amanda J.C. Littleton at 756-2988, ext. 116.