The story of Happy Soil

For a number of years, we, supporters of living soil, have convened at conferences where we were discussing how to bring the 4 % of our population who work in agriculture towards better, more responsible care for soil.

The development of organic food and subsidies for composting helped but on most arable soil, short-term economic pragmatism still prevailed. The majority of our fellow citizens preferred inexpensive food, retail chains competed in promotions and the agricultural subsidy system as well as research and development were driven towards maximal yield for minimal price at the expense of soil quality.

We have therefore begun to target the 10 % of citizens whose soil is degrading, which means that the value of their property is objectively decreasing. Most proprietors lease their land and often have no notion of how their property is treated. Initiatives and organizations have been established to help responsible owners maintain the quality and value of soil. The willingness to invest time and money into the protection of one’s own soil, however, is often low or missing – and in keeping with the proverb “What the eye does not see, the heart does not grieve over”, soil keeps losing its value and quality.

We have developed a dialogue with farmers, soil proprietors and consumers. We have come to find that beside ecological farmers, there is also a significant group of responsible husbandmen who for practical reasons do not strive for the “organic” certification but invest into soil and make efforts to maintain its quality. However, they are not able to make their superior care visible on the market. At the same time, land proprietors keep receiving purchase and lease offers. They are not willing to invest themselves into soil surveys but they tend to choose the better husbandman. In the end, price remains the only clear criterion. Concurrently, the number of consumers who care about the provenance of products keeps growing as more people want their consumer behaviour to affect decisions on the quality of natural environment and the quality of their own life.

Thus was born the idea to certify responsibly farmed, living soil and to present products from such soil to consumers through a simple phone and web application. Responsible farmers, land proprietors and consumers can all profit from the project. As we are now all in the common European market, it is our aim to make this project a European one and spread it across the Union. We form partnerships with professional organizations around Europe and ask for financial support from the European programme LIFE.