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Spring 2022

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.

The Drought Fighter

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

Of Dahlias, Devoted Growers, and their High-Stakes Competitions

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

Cuba’s Harvest of Surprises

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

The Hidden Powers of a Sheep

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

The Bug Whisperer

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

A Perfect Note: The Soufflés of Café Jacqueline

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

Podcast

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

Field Notes

The Little Block-Printing Workshop that Could

Written by Ruth Alden Wicker

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