The Soil Saviors
One of biggest influences on our daily lives arises from a fundamental paradox: As the Earth’s population continues to grow, its natural resources shrink. Foremost among our dwindling resources is fresh water, and the main resource that water feeds: the world’s arable lands. With each passing year, we humans need to get more efficient—and more creative—with how we grow our food. While industrial agriculturists have long tried to do just that, their methods have nearly killed the soil we all depend on. Fortunately, a brighter path has opened up. From backyard composting and no-till farming to “carbon sequestration,” our Spring issue will cover some of the innovators who have arisen to literally save our soil, feed the world, and even slow climate change.
A molecular biologist is finding what could be dangerous levels of heavy metals in plants like kale, often called the “queen” of the vegetable kingdom. And they’ve shown up the most in organic varieties.
Story by TODD OPPENHEIMER
Photography by CLAIRE BLOOMBERG
Fergus Garrett, one of the world’s preeminent gardening experts, talks about the art of making fine gardens, and fine gardeners. His tips are drawn from his years managing Great Dixter House & Gardens, the famously gorgeous and uncommonly diverse set of gardens that lie just outside London.
By THOMAS C. COOPER
On a frigid, eight-acre farm just outside downtown Sebastopol, Paul Kaiser has devised a hyper-intensive form of organic agriculture that is grossing more than $100,000 an acre. And, he believes, saving the planet at the same time. Yet a number of farming experts see trouble on his horizon.
By TODD OPPENHEIMER
While many gardeners take their flowers seriously, few devote almost all of their time to growing one breed—the dahlia—then drive hundreds of miles to go mano a mano against other fanatical growers, for nothing more than a blue ribbon. But that’s exactly what Deborah Dietz does.
Written by THOMAS COOPER
Photography by JAK WONDERLY
More than two decades ago, a Cuban farming revolution that had nothing to do with ideology bore a bounty of fruit. What could the U.S. learn about sustainable agriculture from its much smaller neighbor?
By CHRISTOPHER D. COOK
While the fashion industry continues to produce more and more clothing made from synthetics, with all their harmful effects, we’ve ignored the wonders of wool. The material is natural, durable, and endlessly renewable; more important, its creators (the sheep) can help regenerate the soil, along with the world’s drying, fire-prone landscapes. Fortunately, a wool revival seems to be underway.
By JUDITH D. SCHWARTZ
Mark Sturges doesn’t advertise and clients have to find him by word of mouth, but find him they do. He’s become a master of an agricultural art as old as agriculture itself: basic compost.
By KRISTIN OHLSON
Photography by MARK STURGES and KRISTIN OHLSON
Other Topics In This Issue
Deep in San Francisco’s storied North Beach neighborhood, Jacqueline Margulis has been making soufflés for her café’s customers five nights a week for more than 40 years. Welcome to our story—and mini-documentary—on the only restaurant in the U.S. that specializes solely on this challenging but famously scrumptious symbol of French cuisine.
Film by PHOEBE RUBIN
Story by TODD OPPENHEIMER
More from this Issue
Listen to “Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser on Healing our Soil, and Going Beyond Organic,” A Craftsmanship Artisan Interview
Written by Craftsmanship Editors Narrated by TODD OPPENHEIMER with PAUL & ELIZABETH KAISER