Last Saturday, the Connecticut Community Gardening Association (with a little help from their friends at UConn, CT NOFA, SSSSNE, Knox Parks, New Haven and Bridgeport Land Trusts, and Hartford Food System) held a free showing of ‘Dirt – The Movie’ at the Berlin Peck Public Library. For those not familiar with CCGA, they are a small organization whose mission is to promote and support community gardening in Connecticut. I got involved with this volunteer organization several years ago and am presently serving as secretary. Our website is www.ctcommunitygardening.org.

We know of at least 44 towns and cities in the state with active community gardening programs and one of CCGA’s ongoing projects is to maintain a list of them so folks looking for some community gardening space can find out what is available to them. Community gardens can be found in big cities like Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport as well as small towns like Guilford and Mansfield. They provide many CT residents with a source of nutritious and inexpensive food as well as a sense of community that culminates in interaction among various community groups and a source of pride in the neighborhood.

Community Garden in Willimantic

CCGA has held educational conferences in various locations throughout Connecticut for a number of years now but this year we decided to offer a free movie screening in Berlin and perhaps in other parts of the state as well. ‘DIRT – The Movie’ deals with a topic near and dear to all gardeners’ hearts – Soil! The movie was inspired by the book, Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth by William Bryant Logan. For too long we have been taking the earth beneath our feet for granted. The soil nourishes all forms of life including our own. It is a living, breathing ecosystem and this thin covering over the earth’s surface needs to be appreciated and cared for so that it can continue to sustain the life of future generations of plants, people and animals.

This wonderful movie helps us reconnect to the soil. Real people talk about their relationships with the soil, relate how the neglect and abuse of the soil can lead to societal, economic and environmental problems, and then they offer us hope because this living, renewable resource can be brought back into a productive state through our actions and awareness. Several of the viewers who came to the screening were amazed that soil could be such an interesting topic!

Soil from outwash plain in CT

A few facts to consider about our soils:

Soils are natural bodies composed of minerals and organic materials, liquids and gases, and countless macro and micro-organisms.

Like plants and animals, soils also have a classification system called soil taxonomy. The highest level is called a soil order; the lowest level is called a soil series. In the United States, there are at least 23,000 soil series.

Soils have unique chemical, physical and biological characteristics which affect the type of life they support both above and below ground, and which determine the appropriate use for that soil.

There may be more microorganisms in a cubic foot of healthy soil than there are people on earth!

Erosion of soils is a worldwide problem. We need healthy soils to grow our food. It is estimated that worldwide 24 billion tons of topsoil are annually lost to erosion!

If you get the chance, see the movie. Do a little digging on your own to find out more about soils and how to treat them with the respect and care they deserve.

“A thin layer of earth, a few inches of rain, and a blanket of air make human life possible on our planet. These essential resources must be available to provide the good life for our children and for future generations.” John F. Kennedy

Dawn