Rise Up for Soil
1st April 2021
Our soils are the source of most life on earth. A quarter of all species live beneath our feet - a spoon of healthy soil contains more living organisms than there are people on the planet.
And they recycle organic waste into nutrients that we rely on to produce 90% of our food.
But soils are badly degraded due to intensive agriculture.
Fertilisers are used to replace lost minerals in degraded soils. Excessive pesticides are needed for vast monocultures. Antibiotics are routinely overused in factory farming.
These chemicals are killing soil organisms and leaving top soil prone to erosion. They also contribute to climate change - 20% of agricultural emissions are from the use of synthetic fertilizers.
On top of this, intensive farming uses a process called tilling to blend manure and weeds into the soil in preparation for planting. But disturbing the soil kills the microorganisms that keep it healthy, releases carbon dioxide and reduces water retention.
We need to stop treating soil like dirt.
By rebuilding, replenishing and protecting our soils, we can restore the fertility we need to grow healthy, nutritious food.
And healthy soils play a vital role in mitigating climate change. Whilst excessive carbon in the air (CO2) is bad, carbon drawn down and stored in our soils is vital to life. We need to be increasing instead of continually reducing the amount of carbon in the soil. Removing it from the air is a win-win.
Healthy soil also provides clean drinking water thanks to earthworm tunnels that allow water to be absorbed and filtered (and allow air to reach the roots for healthy plants).
It also supports huge diversity of live - we need to value soil organisms just as we’ve come to value the role of bees as pollinators (read about the importance of biodiversity in our last blog post).
We can all help by reducing food waste (we currently waste ⅓ of all food wasted globally). This reduces the demands we place on the soil simply because we don’t need to produce as much food.
And we can buy produce from local organic and regenerative farms.
Farms that use regenerative practices are working with nature rather than against it. They are adopting no-till methods to avoid damaging the soil structure, using diverse cropping to rotate what is grown in the field, planting cover crops all year round to prevent soil erosion from wind and rain, restoring hedgerows to support biodiversity and applying compost and animal manures to return nutrients to the soil.
We can do this on a smaller scale in our own gardens. Here’s some ideas:
- Leave some of your lawn to grow and encourage wildlife (let’s extend #NoMowMay)
- Plant wildflower seeds for pollinators.
- If you have unavoidable food waste, make your own compost. Unfortunately a lot of organic waste ends up in landfill where it releases methane and we lose valuable nutrients.
- If you’re buying compost, only buy peat-free. Peatlands store three times more carbon than forests, but are being degraded faster than they can regenerate. Peat In compost will be banned from 2024 but until then check the bag.
We're collaborating with Rebel Kitchen
For our latest beer, we’ve partnered with plant-based brand Rebel Kitchen.
Rebel Kitchen is revolutionising food for everyone with sustainable, healthy, plant-based alternatives that taste mind-blowingly good. As a member of 1% For The Planet Foundation, they donate 1% of revenue to regenerative agriculture projects.
They’re also working towards a more regenerative agricultural landscape, focused on healthy soils, ecosystem restoration and biodiversity. That includes sourcing from regenerative organic farmers where possible and where not working with farming communities to support learning and integration of regenerative practices.
OAT PALE ALE
Inspired by their approach, we brewed our Oat Pale Ale with surplus fresh bread and organic British oats. It’s a hazy, juicy beer (alc. 4% vol.) with peach aromas and a spiced bitterness to balance the smooth, sweet oats.
It will be available in our shop from 4th June to mark World Environment Day.
In the lead up to the pivotal climate change negotiations at COP26, we’re releasing a series of limited edition beers with fellow B Corps. Each beer highlights part the ecological crisis, and the change needed to the food system to meet the ambitious goals set in the Paris Agreement to limit warming to 1.5oC.
By supporting businesses that operate for the benefit of people and the planet, particularly certified B Corps such as Toast and Rebel Kitchen, you can help to change the food system, and change the world.
Learn more ...
Watch: Kiss the Ground
Listen: Farm Gate, 99% invisible, Costing the Earth, Investing in Regenerative Agriculture
Read: The soil will save us by Kristin Ohlson, Dirt to Soil by Gabe Brown, The Magical World of Soil Biodiversity (UN)