Friday lunch: the life in the soil

Last Friday, our resident rooftop farmer Kirsten Lyons spent a few minutes disussing the microbial life in the soil around us.


Kirsten, who manages the Green Garage’s urban rooftop farm, has been playing in and learning about Michigan soil for decades as a gardener, farmer, and landscape designer. Some years ago, her passion for soil brought her into contact with the work of Elaine Ingham, a soil biologist who advocates for an ecological approach to soil management.

Rather than relying on chemicals and tilling to nourish healthy soils, Ingham’s approach consists in learning about the astonishing abundance and diversity of microbial life that calls the soil its home, then naturally creating the conditions in which that life can thrive. A thoughtfully balanced microbial ecosystem should yield an abundance of productive, healthy crops, a hypothesis that Ingham’s practice confirms repeatedly.


Kirsten discussed her own love of the soil and explained the basics of Ingham’s work while showing a serires of microsope videos taken by her, Helen Bradley, and Caroline Peterson, two other Green Garagers who’ve been heavily involved in the rooftop farm. The short videos offer a remarkable glimpse of our microscopic relatives that thrive in the vast, teeming world beneath our feet.

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