It's all connected -- the vitality of soils, the quality of our food, and the healthy functioning of our immune systems. And it's intriguing to consider that what could be providing and maintaining that connection is a matrix made up of billions upon billions of microorganisms that thrive mostly just at the edge of our awareness -- and that little thing they do called fermentation.
It's not just about beer and sauerkraut, you know. Fermentation is a dynamic expression of communities of organisms that animate the ground we walk on as well. It is also an essential component of our own digestive system.
Here's natural systems farmer Bob Cannard on soil and fermentation:
You can actually see fermentation happening in the soil, and you can sometimes smell it. There is a wave action of successive fermentations that moves through the soil pushed and pulled by the different lunar phases and changing moisture levels. Your plants have grown and laid down roots. At some, point roots die. Certainly at the end of the growing season for annual plants as the plant parts above ground give way to the final harvest, the woody root system below ground also dies and becomes the carbon resource for the decomposers. Sugars secreted by the plants’ roots, or still present in the root remnants, fuel the fermentation process. If the soil temperature and moisture level are right, and yeasts are present, then fermentation can begin. Below that just-right zone the soil may be too wet and too cool. Above, it may be too dry. As the season progresses and conditions change, that zone will migrate and the yeast and the earthworms will follow, progressively working the soil in the process.
So how can you support healthy levels of microorganisms with better gardening techniques and by eating more fermented foods? Well, an upcoming Bioneers workshop is designed to answer just those questions.
On Monday, October 21, join Bioneers on a private farm tour with Green String Farm owner Bob Cannard, who will share his unique eco-farming practices that create deep fertility in the land, and intense vitality and flavor in the food he grows. In the afternoon Sandor Katz will teach a hands-on workshop on how to make powerfully healthy foods in your own kitchen, while discussing the wonderful, diverse, global culinary traditions and health benefits of fermented foods.
What: From Culture of Soil to Cultured Foods - a day of farming and fermentation
Where: Green String Farm, Petaluma, CA
When: Monday, October 21, from 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Cost: $175 (Includes lunch and bus transportation from Embassy Suites, San Rafael)