– With a Foreword by Alastair McIntosh, author of Soil and Soul –
Aimed at all concerned about the environment, this book presents a radical vision of the future of farming and community life, based on hidden insights from the life and spirit of the soil and on the author’s experiences of growing up in the small, agricultural community of Clatt in North-East Scotland.
160 pages + 8 pages of colour illustrations
Bruce Ball is a soils specialist with a research and consultancy career spanning 35 years. His regular contact with soil in the field and with farmers has led to a deep understanding of the critical importance of soil to our future survival.
Alastair McIntosh, author of Soil and Soul, describes this book as ‘lyrical’ and ‘an autobiography of the soil written autobiographically by a son of the soil’.
Humanity is trashing the world’s soils by the billion tonne, though all terrestrial life depends on it. Bruce Ball shows that we have the techniques to restore what’s left – but that most of all we need a spiritual shift: to recover our sense of empathy with the biosphere. We need to dig deep – not into the soil but into our own psyche.
Colin Tudge, biologist, author and co-founder of The Campaign for Real Farming
This is a book that should be piled high in every retail outlet concerned with food and agriculture. I also commend it as an outstanding text for study and meditation, especially for church members and those in Ecocongregations in Britain, Ireland and beyond that seek the deeper spiritual meaning of their calling.
– Wild Goose Publications gratefully acknowledges the support of the Drummond Trust, 3 Pitt Terrace, Stirling FK8 2EY in producing this book –
Review from The Organic Grower – No. 33, Winter 2015
This is a humble, optimistic and personal book, a story from the author’s heart and mind which avoids dwelling on the damage dealt by history, preferring to present a vision where an enlightened approach to our soils can lead to a better connection with the planet, our food and not least of all, ourselves. Treating soil with respect, love even, can reap greater return as we harness the energy of the flourishing microbes.
The book reads like a dance between art and science, subject and object, soul and soil. Practical experience and a pragmatism, frolics with childhood tales and Scottish folklore. Poems are placed like illustrations and the state of our soils and our-selves are linked metaphorically. This occasionally feels a little contrived, to make the point, but the parallel fits comfortably.
He references many other writers and thinkers, diggers and dreamers, touching upon their contributions to the modern deep green movement through both theory and practice. However community and a reverence for time and place are the centrepiece, anchored by the evolving story of his father, home and village life.
Bruce, like many land workers, doesn’t distinguish much between life and work. His work with soil has shown him not only the threads that weave us to it but the interconnected web within and emerging from it. He makes no secret of his liberal Christian faith but the message is holistic. Ecology and community are interlocked and the mission statement is less one of novel practical solutions but to connect; with our soils, selves and each other.
This is an easy going and enjoyable book and although the focus lacks technical juice it is a fresh reminder that our craft is as reliant on a well-cultured society as it is the soil.