Press Release: Living Soil Awards

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Celebrate Soil Health and Responsible Land Stewardship with the Living Soil Awards


[February 25, 2021] Join Friends of Family Farmers and Cultivate Oregon in celebrating our state’s "HERO"s (holistic, ecological, regenerative operators) through the 2021 Living Soil Awards! This award will honor farmers and ranchers of all scales around the state who are currently putting a premium on soil health through their practices and philosophies. This award will feature both recognition and a cash prize for farmers, and is designed to give a platform to these leaders in Oregon agriculture and encourage more folks to follow in their footsteps.

Soil Health has always been important to farmers. It brings numerous agronomic benefits including increased soil moisture holding capacity, reduced soil erosion, reduced need for chemical inputs, and much more. Although the benefits of these practices for agriculture are many, they are by no means new. Indigenous farmers have known for millennia that caring for the soil as a living entity is important to sustain a healthy, productive food system and today’s regenerative agriculture movement is bringing many of these principles to new audiences. A focus on soil health also has the potential to increase the climate resilience of Oregon’s farms. Research from US Dept. Agriculture has shown that the potential of soil carbon sequestration in agricultural land could be a huge opportunity to reduce the carbon footprint of our state and nation and world. Governor Brown’s Oregon Climate Action Plan specifically calls on the carbon sequestration potential of these working lands to impact the future of Oregon’s climate. The U.S. Congress is working to achieve support in the Farm Bill to support a new program that might deal with many facets of a national carbon sequestration effort on working lands.

With all this renewed interest in soil health in working lands, the goal of the Living Soil Awards is to lift up the voices of the farmers and ranchers who have already implemented these techniques, show that it is possible on any scale, and create a community of practice surrounding this type of farming. Friends of Family Farmers and Cultivate Oregon acknowledge that we are one effort within a movement that was not begun by these policy initiatives. We want to bring folks from across Oregon’s working landscape together to celebrate what is happening here in our state and inspire other producers to adopt or expand their soil health initiatives.

Nominations are now open until April 1. Self nominations are welcome and applications will be reviewed by a committee and based on the level of implementation of good practices at the farm, framed by the NRCS guidelines for soil health. Finalists will be visited by the selection committee to learn more, and awards will be presented in a virtual ceremony on April 21, 2021.

Living Soil Awards is a joint project of Friends of Family Farmers and Cultivate Oregon.