Courses Overview >> Short courses >> Cultivating Healthy Soils in Your Garden and on Your Farm

Cultivating Healthy Soils in Your Garden and on Your Farm

Course dates: 
Monday, 8 October, 2018 to Friday, 12 October, 2018

With Laura Lengnick

Take this practical, hands-on course if you want to cultivate soil that is alive and vital, soil that is teaming with beneficial organisms, soil has the capacity to produce healthy food, healthy people, and healthy community. Learn how to use time-tested methods to grow healthy soils in your garden and on your farm, practice using some simple tools to measure and monitor soil health over time, and explore the potential for healthy soils to promote your health and the health of our planet in a changing climate.

At A Glance

  • Learn about soil health and ecological soil management practices with an award-winning soil scientist who has more than 30 years of experience working as a researcher, educator and smallholder to understand how ecological soil management promotes soil health and sustainable food systems.
  • Practice using some simple, effective, research-based tools to measure and monitor a set of physical, chemical and biological indicators of soil health over time in your garden or on your farm.
  • Engage with others interested in learning more about ecological soil management and exploring the opportunities available for growers to promote healthy soils, healthy people, healthy communities and the health of our planet.

About This Course

Soils inhabit the dynamic edges of our planet where rock, water, air, energy and life interact to make life on Earth possible. An emerging appreciation for the connection between soil health, human health, and the health of our planet has generated renewed interest in soil management practices that promote healthy soils. In this course, we will explore how you can sustain this vital resource in your garden and on your farm using simple, time-tested practices that:

1) regenerate and sustain the life in your soil
2) protect your soil from damages caused by extremes of temperature, rainfall and other disturbances
3) allow you to regularly evaluate the health of your soil

Proper feeding requires an understanding of how the quality and quantity of materials added to the soil – for example, plant residues, animal manures, compost and fertilizers – stimulate the soil decomposition processes responsible for enhancing soil health. A broad understanding of soil response to disturbance makes it easier to choose the best protection options for your soil. Regular observation and evaluation of soil health can dramatically improve your ability to cultivate a living soil regardless of the place-based challenges of your production system and location. Take this course if you want to gain a practical understanding of what you can do to cultivate healthy soils for healthy crops, livestock, and people, healthy community and a healthy planet.

This course is for:

• Gardeners who want to learn about soil management practices that they can use to improve soil health and produce healthy fruits, vegetables, herbs and medicinal plants.

• Smallholders who want to learn about the principles and practices of ecological soil management in order to improve soil health and promote the sustained production of healthy, high quality food and livestock on their land.

• Commercial farmers who want to consider using ecological soil management practices on their farm to reduce costs, increase productivity and enhance the resilience of their farm operation to more variable weather and extremes.

• Students of agriculture and food systems who want to understand how gardeners, small-holders and farmers can use the principles and practices of ecological soil management to promote soil health and sustainable food systems.

What will participants gain from taking part in this course?

• A better understanding of soil health and the principles and practices of ecological soil management, including the effects on soil life of different kinds of management practices such as the addition of compost and other organic materials, and the use of crop rotation, cover crops, and tillage.

• The ability to use some simple, easy to construct and effective tools designed to accurately measure and monitor soil health over time.

• A new appreciation for the crucial role that soils play in the health of the planet.

Laura Lengnick

Laura Lengnick

Laura Lengnick has explored agricultural and food system sustainability through more than 30 years of work as a federal researcher and policy-maker, college educator, community activist and farmer to understand what it takes to move sustainability values into action on the farm, in our communities and as a nation. Trained as a soil scientist, Laura’s research in soil quality and sustainable agriculture systems at the Beltsville Agriculture Research Center in Maryland was nationally recognized with a USDA Secretary’s Honor Award in 2000. She led the academic program in Sustainable Agriculture at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina for more than a decade, where she also served as the Director of Sustainability Education. She has a long history of collaboration in community-based research, education and advocacy for sustainable agriculture and food systems. Laura has grown organic vegetables and fruits for community supported agriculture projects and has developed her smallholding near Asheville, NC using biointensive and permaculture principles. Her award-winning 2015 book, Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food systems for a Changing Climate, explores climate change, resilience and the future of food through the adaptation stories of some of America’s best sustainable farmers and ranchers. You can learn more about Laura and her work at

£ 550.00
Course fees include all vegetarian meals, field trips, materials and all teaching sessions. The programme will run from Monday of the first week to Friday afternoon the last week, and includes four nights private accommodation from the first lunchtime you arrive through until the lunchtime before your departure.