Date of Submission

Fall 2014

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Environmental and Urban Studies

Project Advisor 1

Kris Feder

Project Advisor 2

Jennifer Phillips

Abstract/Artist's Statement

This project discusses how a range of actors in various ecological contexts are rapidly “building” fertile, carbon-rich topsoil at rates not conventionally considered possible, and some of the claims they are making about the local and global benefits of soil regeneration. This analysis weighs a mechanistic paradigm of understanding soil as essentially a physical pile of dirt and settles rather on a holistic view of soil as a continuous, dynamic process of exchange and renewal. Therefore soil can be seen not just as the home and ‘container’ of a living ecosystem but as the unfolding event of life itself. Exploring the micro-scale processes and mechanisms of life and death, growth and breath, in the soil allows this project to evaluate claims of actually making more soil, often referred to as soil ‘building’ or regeneration. This project therefore explains what is meant by “rapid topsoil building,” with particular regard to the human stewardship goals of the local land system, which the soil ecosystem is embedded within. A literature review and a laboratory soil test are used to explain what “rapid soil building” could mean for the particular ecological context of the Bard Community Garden site. Specific stewardship practices are identified as “regenerative” within this local context of environmental conditions and socio-cultural goals, and recommended for future Community Garden agroecosystem stewards.

Open Access Agreement

On-Campus only

Creative Commons License


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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