The Cycle of Terroir- From the Soil, to the Seed, to the Food You Eat

The Cycle of TerroirWe have just returned from The National Heirloom Exposition in Santa Rosa, CA. For three days we were able to meet and talk with many like-minded and very interested people that wanted to know more about local food, growing their garden and how heirlooms tied into all of this. We did a presentation that tied the concepts of healthy, vital soil combined with heirloom seeds to produce the most nutritious, flavorful and local food possible. We looked at how, exactly, to build that “black gold”- healthy soil that increases in production, pest, weed and disease resistance each year. Specifically why heirlooms and open pollinated seeds are so much more appropriate and beneficial for local and human scale agriculture was addressed, as well as how profitability, productivity and biodiversity are firmly on the side of small scale agriculture- from the home gardener and Farmer’s Market grower to the CSA grower.

Many of you have asked to see the presentation, as there were lots that couldn’t make it to the Exposition, and others that wanted to go back over it and make notes at their own pace.

Here it is in it’s entirety!

We hope that you enjoy it, please let us know if you have questions or comments by scrolling down to the bottom of this page.

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7 Responses to The Cycle of Terroir- From the Soil, to the Seed, to the Food You Eat

  1. Jonathan Pynchon October 12, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    What quantity of bio-char is optimal? Coffee grounds at 25% in compost is a nice guideline… something less for bio-char?

    Thanks for sharing so much promising information!

    • Stephen October 12, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

      The upper limit for Charcoal, or Bio-Char is 16oz (1lb) per square foot, but significant soil improvements start to happen with as little as 2oz/sq ft. This is in the garden, so the compost pile can have much more than this, as it is “diluted” when spread on top of the garden row or raised bed. The range I try to shoot for is 3-6 oz/sq ft in the garden.

  2. Carol Moore April 8, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    Hi Steven,

    You gave a great presentation on healthy soil. Thank you..
    My problem is I do not have compost, but a small plot of land by the apartment. The soil needs to be brought to life. What would you suggest?

    Thank you again.


    • Stephen April 16, 2013 at 9:24 am #

      Carol, getting started with a thick layer of mulch from leaves or wood chips is an excellent way to start building the fertility of your soil. Water it to get it moist, then let nature do the work of decomposing it and bringing in the communities of micro-organisms that will restore the life to your soil.

  3. margot September 29, 2013 at 4:14 am #

    thanks for the Cycle of Terroir…I know now we are on the right track….we can buy here in Victoria Australia a small portable easy bio-char maker which works wonderfully…we also have the wood boiler for house heating…we are lucky enough to get 2-21/2 tons of horse stable manure a week to build our soils…we just have to clean the stalls…I can not wait to make the fish liquid compost tomorrow as we have the fish heads and bones etc from a local cafe…will get some milk and spray it next week as we have heavy clay soils. It was so good to have you explain WHY the different things work…much more reason to get out and do it…..again many thanks for your newsletters…they contain so much information

    • Stephen October 9, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

      Good to hear Margot! Some find it easier to buy hardwood charcoal as it is readily available in their region, others will make it cheaper. Stacking, or combining different soil building techniques really helps to accelerate the fertility and diversity of the micro-organisms, increasing the health and productivity of the soil.


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    […] presentation is “The Cycle of Terroir – From the Soil to the Seed to the Food You Eat” that ties together the holistic concepts of healthy, vital soil combined with heirloom seeds to […]

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