Soil is the foundation of health for everything. It is teeming with microbes that move the building blocks of life through various chemical and biological states; an ever churning cycle of birth, death and decay. Without a thriving soil food web, plants will not develop nutrient density and will succumb to nature’s clean-up crews. As we work to transform a marginal piece of land into a productive food forest, we hope to share the quantitative data we collect to track our progress of regenerating optimal soil health for our trees and the food we grow.
Using the NRCS Web Soil Survey, we obtained basic information in 2015 about the geology and hydrology of our soils. We primarily have well-drained fine sandy loam, with a depth of around 5ft and a high water table. Our land is gently sloping with plenty of rocks and lodgement till derived from granite and gneiss.
We conducted baseline soil biology and chemistry tests in July 2017 through Harrington’s Soil Laboratory in CT. Below are the results and a corresponding map showing the sample locations. Thank you to CISA for their support and assistance in this critical piece of our education and farm development.
With the support of a SARE Research Grant, we have completed another round of soil chemistry tests through Logan Labs. The May 2018 test is a baseline assay of our research site (berms #14 and 15) near the “lower” portion of our field. The October 2018 tests analyze soil from each of the four perennial groundcover test plots in the same location five months later. We are excited to analyze the changes over time!
Also in 2018, we partnered with the Conway School of Landscape Design as a student project site. Part of the project included obtaining two soil samples for areas on the southern end of our field, which is still currently undeveloped. The southeast side contains some of our lowest elevation with very wet conditions; the southwest side is sloped downward facing our main field with a road culvert in the southwest corner. These two areas were a main focus of the design for potential future farm development.
If you have additional questions about our soil work, please contact us! We love to talk dirty…!