While visiting Santa Barbara last week, I had the honor of being interviewed by Jill Cloutier and Carol Hirashima of Sustainable World Media for their documentary The Soil Solution. The film focuses on farmers, scientists, and educators who are exploring the link between soil fertility, water quality, food security, and carbon sequestration. Check out a clip at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5h7rqIsOleU

The entire film will be screened at the Sausalito Film Festival (CA) in May.

It’s part of a wave of books, articles, and media on soil and carbon coming out in a steady stream these days, which is good news. Part of the reason, of course, is that very little is happening on the national and international front to confront greenhouse gas emissions, and there won’t be much more happening any time soon, apparently. That leaves us – as I explained in my interview – few options other than working to sequester carbon dioxide someplace. And that ‘place’ is in the soil. Fortunately, soils are a wonderful location for carbon storage, if handled properly, as many people are just beginning to understand. It’s not an easy process, however, given the many barriers to good land stewardship, but the first step is simply understanding the idea of carbon sequestration in soils.

That’s why documentaries such as The Soil Solution are so important.

I don’t quite feel like an expert on carbon yet (that’s what the pilgrimage is for), but Jill and Carol were eager to add an interview to their film. We met at Fairview Gardens, which is a 12-acre organic farm in the middle of a subdivision in Goleta. I had no clue the farm existed, so when we completed the interview, I was graciously given a tour of the grounds by Mark Tollefson, the Executive Director of the Center for Urban Agriculture, which manages the farm. This was an unexpected bonus for me. Part of my pilgrimage is to explore the link between soil health and human health, which is too often overlooked. The link, of course, is food – in the form of plants and animals. I’ll return to this topic in later postings.

It was an interesting experience to wander around the tidy farm, sampling succulent strawberries straight from the vine, listening to Mark’s plans for expansion, education, and resilience, especially within sight of the houses in the adjacent subdivision. He is especially fired up about teaching ‘urban homesteading’ workshops – beekeeping, cheese-making, and other off-the-grid food-making activities. He likens what is happening on Fairview to an ‘ark’ of sorts, meaning that it is a keeper of a sustainability ‘skill set’ – just in case it’s needed later on a bigger scale (I bet it will be needed). There’s a great side-by-side comparison of aerial photos of Goleta in 1954 and 1998 that strongly reinforces Mark’s ark argument. Take a look. (www.fairviewgardens.com)

Here’s a photo I took of Mark and the farm.