Press Release

Natural Resources Defense Council and Lexicon of Sustainability Announce Winners of the Voices of the Soil Contest

Kimiko Martinez, Natural Resources Defense Council, 310-434-2344 or kmartinez@nrdc.org; Samantha Harmon, Lexicon of Sustainability, 707-763-1491 or samantha@lexiconofsustainability.com

WASHINGTON, D.C.  (October 21, 2015) — A diverse group of young farmers, agricultural students, and young soil enthusiasts from across the country have been selected as winners in the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Lexicon of Sustainability’s “Voices of Soil” Essay and Video Contest. In their entries, contestants ages 18 to 28 made clear that soil health is critical to the sustainability of all communities and to the future of food, water, and climate.

The contest was created to increase understanding and awareness of the vital importance of soil health, and to celebrate the International Year of Soils. Winners were chosen by a special guest panel of distinguished soil leaders, including: Joel Salatin, foremost a farmer, but also a renowned speaker and the author of eight books; Dr. Elaine Ingham, one of the principal leaders in soil microbiology; and Ian Davidson, a soil and fertility expert with extensive training in holistic resource management.

Many people understand the connection between soil and food, but fewer people realize soil also has an important role in sequestering carbon and alleviating some of the worst impacts of climate change, like drought and flood. Sustainable agricultural practices like cover cropping can improve soil health by building organic matter, which allows soil to hold more water. Healthy soil also filters toxic chemicals before they can leach into groundwater or runoff into surface water.  As more people become aware of the importance of soil for providing basic human needs, communities can work together to protect and build healthy soil for farms, cities, and ecosystems.

The winners include:

  • Overall Winner for Best Essay: Arianna Stokes, New London, N.H.
    “Soil is alive…if a community is a group of living creatures inhabiting the same place at the same time, the soil, being a living entity, is a member of this community.”
  • Overall Winner for Best Video: Liam Trumble, Chicago.
    “Global warming is partially attributed to our use and misuse of the land and soil.”
  •  Winner, Best Essay about Soil and Communities: Ben Gross, Brighton, Mass.
    “I dig out dark, healthy soil and plant basil seeds, covering them with fistfuls of dirt, which leave my hands brown and smelling like earth. My knees are sore but I’m happy; my hands are dirty and will soon be calloused, but I am happy.”
  • Winner, Best Video on Soil and Communities: Weenta Girmay, New Orleans.
    “Water and soil sustain us.  Maintaining the relationship between the two is the best way to preserve our way of life in our historic city.”
  • Winner, Best Essay on Soil and Water: Maria Doerr, Columbia, Mo.
    “Good water and soil quality systems are as, if not more, important than city walkability, access to affordable housing, and the presence of a thriving economic district.  A city is an interconnected system in which manmade and natural components cannot be separated.”
  • Winner, Best Video on Soil and Water: Billy Beaton, Grand Forks, N.D.
    “The relationship between soil and water goes back billions of years.”
  • Winner, Best Essay on Soil and Climate Change: Joanna Brown, Dorchester, Mass.
    “By cooperating with fellow earthlings, we could orchestrate mass carbon sequestration and avoid a dire alternative.  Wetlands, grasslands, and cities could all work to convert volatile atmospheric carbon dioxide to fertile soil wealth.”
  • Winner, Best Video on Soil and Climate Change: Alyssa Bruns, Jackson, N.J.
    “To mitigate global climate change and maintain a healthy planet, we need to return carbon where it belongs – in our soils.”

The Voices of the Soil competition awarded two $1,000 prizes for the best overall video and essay, and six $500 prizes for the best video and essay in each category.

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