In your hands, the spongy structure of healthy soil looks and feels like moist chocolate cake, offering more life in one teaspoon than there are people on the planet.

The segment of the soil which creates this telltale texture is called 'humus', and despite its contribution to the tactile-ness signalled by its existence, it's shapeless. Without any scientific knowledge of soil at all, you can spot humus' assassination when instead of chocolate cake beneath your feet, you find parched dirt in its place.
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In many ways, humus offers the same benefits to the soil that colostrum offers a newborn. Like the human body, humus absorbs elements emitted by animals and plants in varying stages of decay (compost), converting them to nutrients which lets soil feed, reproduce, suppress disease, fix nitrogen, and retain moisture; creating a womb in which plants can grow. 

Its motherly acts don't end there either, recent research has shown that our species subconsciously remembers where we stem from as "the smell of humus exerts a physiological effect on humans. Breathing in the scent of Mother Earth stimulates the release of the hormone oxytocin, the same chemical that promotes bonding between mother and child".

'Humans' and 'Humus' share the same etymology of being 'from and for the earth', their roots intertwined with 'Humble', which is how one feels when these tales of reciprocity from the kingdom below, surface.
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HOW HUMUS HELPS REVERSE GLOBAL WARMING
The existence of humus in the ground is one of our main aides us in reversing climate breakdown, as it stores the overpopulation of carbon we've pumped into the atmosphere, converting it into topsoil (the part of soil we grow our food in). Humus also offers resilience against drought and flooding, storing 80-90% of its weight in moisture like a reservoir, so life above and below the ground can thrive and survive.

Like most mothers, humus is incredibly resilient, but current conventional agricultural practices weaken it. When weakened or killed, its benevolence is blocked from continuing, and without it, no life can survive on this planet.

Soil lacking in humus contributes to global heating instead of reversing it. When tilled, left bare of plant life to cool and shade it, it scorches in the sun as any of us would. When drenched with chemicals, it becomes sick and cannot function. Without compost, humus is left to starve and quickly dies off.

As it passes away the carbon it was sequestering, which offered a future of food to all life on earth, escapes and rises into our atmosphere. Then when it rains, without humus to hold it, the water runs off silting and flooding our waterways. Without stored moisture, the soil turns to dirt and is devastated by drought, marking it infertile. Without fertility, the earth cannot support life.

This is a humbling reality that science - in 'verifying' Indigenous Peoples Knowledge - is just beginning to come to know. Reminding us that though we might like to think we've got it all figured out, in truth, we hardly understand the ground we stand on.
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HOW CAN YOU PROTECT SOIL HEALTH? 
The good news is by listening to the wisdom of Indigenous Peoples, there are solutions already available, offering food security and reversal of climate breakdown. You can aide in the protection of our soil's health by spreading this information, adjusting your purchases, and lobbying and voting in support of regenerative agriculture. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Support Regenerative Agriculture: shop at your local farmer's market so you can ask the local farmers directly what type of farming they do. To be regenerative the farmer needs to check off as many questions as possible, Kiss The Ground has a great PDF you can save on your phone to use as a guide, just click HERE to get yours.

2. Support Regenerative Fashion: either buy nothing, buy second-hand, buy clothing made from upcycled natural fibres, or shop on Fibershed's Marketplace.

3. Compost! The breakdown of organic matter is what creates humus, an amazingly effective way to protect humus is to make humus from your own organic waste.

WANT TO LEARN MORE?
Kiss The Ground is holding a new soil advocacy and regenerative lifestyle courses, click HERE to sign up. They also have courses for farmers and businesses which can answer any questions I can't and inspire you on your own path.

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