Soil Story

18 April 2024

So much more than the mud under our feet! 

Soil Story is a new Cultivate project, co-created in partnership with ARK at Egwood and Rama Life, that explores our relationship with soil and each other.  

ARK at EGWOOD is a therapeutic land-based community provision where people of all ages improve their health, wellbeing and social connections through land-based activities.  

Rama Life is an education provision that focuses on four areas of work -  holiday clubs, schools, community and home education –that offer the opportunity for young people to build self-esteem, confidence and wellbeing.  

Over a six-month period children, young people and adults are getting involved in arts, nature and food-related activities to explore the wonders of a hidden world and discover that there’s so much more than mud under our feet! 

"If we take care of the soil, the soil will take care of us all. Through the soil we are all interrelated and connected. All living beings depend on the soil and the soil treats all living beings equally." 

The project has been part-inspired by words from life-long activist, Satish Kumar

Soil is the source of all life, literally and metaphorically. It helps produce 95% of our food and is home to 25% of the Earth’s species.  

Soil is also a community of organisms that needs a diverse range of carbon rich compounds, such as insects, worms and other wildlife, to remain healthy and flourish. Death and decay are part of the cycle of growth and renewal. As such, soil is a powerful metaphor for the ‘entire natural system’.   

Equally, a resilient community needs to be diverse, connected and inter-dependent. There’s much we can learn from exploring and reflecting on the ‘soil’ community as well as recognising that we are also part of that same community. All living beings depend on the soil, the soil relies on us to take care of it, and we need each other for our communities to thrive.

So what does this look like in South Somerset?! 

Soil Story is being delivered in two phases. In February and March 2024, weekly, hands-on workshops with both groups explored the ‘literal’ value and importance of healthy soil. 

Sessions at the ARK have included examining the important nutrients and organisms in soil, looking at nature through a microscope and getting into the wormery! Inspired by a workshop run by Lara Honnor from School Beanz where she shared her ‘no dig’ philosophy, the group has decided to form a Compost Club. ‘It’s amazing to think how alive the soil is and what happens when we disrupt it,’ said one participant. 

The young people at Rama Life have also been getting their hands dirty. Despite initial scepticism from some, a mix of practical sessions and videos have inspired insightful discussions around supermarket dominance, sampling and understanding the complexity of soil, and letting go and connecting with nature. 

Sessions between April and early summer 2024 will build on Phase 1 by using arts activity to explore and celebrate the ‘metaphorical’ value of healthy soil and its relationship to resilient, diverse communities. 

Throughout the project, we’re hoping that Soil Story will help shift our perceptions, and increase awareness, of the relevance and importance of healthy soil and our relationship with it. Already we’re seeing how the project is enabling people to socially connect with others, the land and the arts and flourish in a safe, nature-friendly environment.   

‘I really love how this project is unfolding,’ said one participant. We’re looking forward to seeing what happens next. 

We appreciate support from the Ashley Family Foundation and The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust to help make the project happen.