Kristin Ohlson

Kristin Ohlson

On June 19, Growing Magazine had a moment to speak with Kristin Ohlson, author of The Soil Will Save Us. Ohlson was part of a book talk and signing at the City Club of Cleveland, Ohio.

During the event titled “Why a Better Agriculture is Our Only Hope for a Stable Climate,” she touched on topics such as soil, plant roots, carbon emissions and carbon fuel. While working on her book, she said early climate science projections didn’t take into account the biggest thing, which is the soil.

“We think of earth as air, water and land and we think of land as thin crust of rock hurdling through space,” Ohlson said. “Even though I’ve been a gardener for a long time, I wouldn’t ever understand when people would talk about the life in the soil. Yes, molds, earth worms, beetles and ants are important, but those are the leviathans of the soil and are the great blue whales, great white sharks.”

Ohlson added that it’s what we don’t see that makes the soil alive. Commenting on the efforts to curb carbon emissions, she noted, “it was so obvious…that we as a people weren’t doing the things that the climate scientists and climate activists said we should be doing.”

In The Soil Will Save Us, Ohlson argues for the use of soil carbon in which may hold the key toward reversing global warming.

Growing Magazine: While working on your book, was there anything new you discovered about the farming process?

Ohlson: If anything, I’ve just gotten more and more respect for farmers how much thought, decision making and how many difficult choices they have to make. And, how precarious it is every year, starting off with this crop and that anything could happen. I’ve gotten more respect for them than I already had.

Growing MagazineWhat type of response have you received from farmers? Was it different according to regions or generally the same?

Ohlson: I’ve had great response from farmers a lot of farmers who contact me or come to hear me talk are sort of already on this track. I was asked to speak at a high school in a farming community in southern Oregon a few weeks ago, and there were many sons and daughters of farmers there. That was a very lively discussion because there were some who found all this talk of doing things differently very threatening and some who found it very exciting. They see the struggles that their own parents have managing farms and making all this work, so that was one of the most intense exchanges I’ve ever had.

I think that some of the most progress is being made in some of the areas that you would suspect it the least like Ohio, North Dakota, Oklahoma and places where people have large farms. A lot of them are producing commodity crops and they’re not changing to suit the consumer, rather they’re changing because they want to make their land healthier, their farming easier and to make more money.

That’s where a lot of exciting changes are taking place. There are changes that need to take place in organic farming. In the organic farming community, farmers have always been aware of the value of soil health and are just fine-tuning what they do in some really creative ways.

For more information about The Soil Will Save Us, click here. To watch the recorded video on City Club of Cleveland’s YouTube channel, click here.