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Climate Connection: Carbon Farming: A solution to climate change is right under our feet
Climate Connection

Climate Connection: Carbon Farming: A solution to climate change is right under our feet

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My journey into becoming a climate change activist started with a conversation I had with two of my grandchildren who were visiting the summer before last. With real concern, they started in on the topic of plastic in the ocean and the conversation quickly moved into “What can we do, Grammy? We need to do something.”

Together, we formed a small, motley group, the “SUPS” (Stop Using Plastic Society) and I promised them that I would work as hard and as long as I could to address some of the problems facing all of us.

As a member of the UC Master Gardeners in Napa, I have volunteered over the years, learning with and teaching the public all about soils and earth-friendly garden practices.

But until that conversation with my grandkids, my head had been buried in the soil. I hadn’t really allowed myself to embrace the signals our earth had been sending us for decades, messages that it was struggling because of how we humans, particularly those of us in the U.S., have been living on this earth. I wanted to believe that we could go on forever and that the earth would adjust to our overreaching ways.

Then I took the “Soil Advocacy Training” class through Kiss the Ground (https://kisstheground.com/) and I became part of an international group of people learning ways of making a difference in climate change by changing how we farm, garden and treat our soil.

Kiss the Ground is a Los Angeles-based 501 (c )(3) nonprofit whose mission is to awaken people to the possibilities of soil regeneration. The group inspires participation through media, communications, courses, immersive programming, and advocacy. I was also able to deepen my understanding of climate issues by becoming part of Napa Climate Now!

Our planet’s soil, air and water are in serious trouble. This means we all are in big trouble, including our children, grandchildren and the generations to come. The soil feeds us and keeps many of the ecosystems on this planet functioning. Our soil is one of the earth’s largest carbon sinks, and it functions best when it has lots of carbon in it. But far too much carbon has been transferred to the atmosphere in the form of greenhouse gases.

This imbalance is due, in part, by conventional agricultural methods, but primarily by our over-dependence on fossil fuels. This causes our climate to heat up and produce extreme weather, including fires that have become a yearly threat and destroyer. Where do we put that vast amount of carbon that’s in the atmosphere, acidifying the oceans and killing sea life? A big part of the solution is right under our feet!

Plants take in carbon from the atmosphere through photosynthesis, nurture themselves, and introduce carbon back into the soil feeding the billions of organisms living and working for us there.

These organisms break down the minerals and organic matter that nourish the plants, and they play a vital role in the sequestration of carbon. We can regenerate soil and retain tons of carbon in our agricultural lands and grow healthier food without employing the harmful practices that are turning our agricultural lands into dust.

When this natural process is combined with other earth friendly practices, such as eliminating pesticides and chemical fertilizers, reducing tillage and growing a diversity of plants that keep the ground covered, magic happens.

This also reduces the effects of drought by retaining more water in the soil, rather than losing it to runoff and evaporation. This is called carbon farming.

The way we garden on farms and in our own yards is a choice of whether we want that carbon going back into the atmosphere or into our soil. A groundswell of gardening and agricultural experts, including grape growers here in the Napa Valley, are discovering that carbon farming and gardening offers a means of growing better crops in a healthier, more life sustaining and carbon-friendly way.

It’s commonplace now to see mustard, grasses and other cover crops growing between the rows of grapevines, adding diversity to the soil and nurturing the vines and soil organisms in the monoculture of a vineyard. Cover crops also add stability to the soil, preventing erosion and the loss of topsoil, and increases the infiltration of rain which minimizes run-off into nearby creeks and streams.

Many growers are adding compost to their soils to increase soil organic matter and decreasing amounts of chemical pesticides used in vineyards. Napa Green has announced that in the coming months the Napa Green Land program will evolve into a next-level, stand-alone climate action and environmental stewardship certification program. Napa Green will be working closely with the RCD and growers to develop next level standards and certification protocols

The industrialized world is hopefully on the way to subsidizing carbon farming. Carbon farmers benefit our planet, the soil, the water, the air and those of us who eat. Our health and the health of the planet are one and the same.

In the next column, I will share specifics on how you can tweak your gardening practices to nourish the soil, store carbon, and help the environment.

Actions you can take

— Watch “Kiss the Ground,” a full-length movie on Netflix. It is a hopeful and useful documentary featuring stars you know touting practices to heal our earth.

— Vote for candidates with an urgent commitment to address climate change. Follow League of Women Voters Candidate Forums, www.lwvnapa.com/.

— Additional reading:

“Bringing Our Soil Back to Life” by David Montgomery

https://e360.yale.edu/features/soil_as_carbon_storehouse_new_weapon_in_climate_fight (“Soil as Carbon Storehouse: new Weapon in Climate Change”—Yale School of Forestry- The Soil Revolution



Watch now: How To Teach Your Kids To Be Eco-Friendly

Carol Glaser has lived in the Napa Valley for 43 years where she has raised two daughters with her husband, John. She is a Master Gardener and member of Napa Climate NOW!, heading up the Carbon Farming Campaign. Carol was a founder of Sunrise Montessori of Napa Valley, a teacher at NVUSD and NVC and managing partner for Glaser and Associates.

Napa Climate NOW! is a local non-profit citizens’ group advocating for smart climate solutions based on the latest climate science, part of 350 Bay Area. Find us at Facebook or through http://napa.350bayarea.org

Carol Glaser has lived in the Napa Valley for 43 years where she has raised two daughters with her husband, John. She is a Master Gardener and member of Napa Climate NOW!, heading up the Carbon Farming Campaign. Carol was a founder of Sunrise Montessori of Napa Valley, a teacher at NVUSD and NVC and managing partner for Glaser and Associates.

Napa Climate NOW! is a local non-profit citizens’ group advocating for smart climate solutions based on the latest climate science, part of 350 Bay Area. Find us at Facebook or through http://napa.350bayarea.org

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