Campaign Highlights Importance of Compost to Improve Soil in Your Garden
The Million Tomato Compost Campaign is declaring success with its goal to grow a million tomatoes in soil improved with locally produced compost.
The campaign, launched last April by the U.S. Composting Council (USCC), sought to boost the soil health of community gardens across the country and produce healthy and fresh food for local food pantries.
Gardeners in more than 100 community gardens from Washington state to Florida grew 1.2 million tomatoes last summer, USCC said in a press release. The USCC is a national non-profit trade and professional organization that promotes recycling of organic materials through composting.
Campaign organizers say the gardens illustrate how private companies, community organizations, chefs, kids and nonprofits can work together toward a common goal of healthy soil, healthy food and healthy communities.
“The one million tomatoes that community gardeners grew in compost are testament to the growing power of compost and the people power of dedicated sustainable gardening champions,” said Lori Scozzafava and USCC executive director. “We’re proud of our work to spread the knowledge that using compost is nature’s way to grow fresh fruits and vegetables and build healthy soil.”
One participating garden was sponsored by the Tulalip Tribes Health Clinic in Washington state and was planted with the help of the clinic's patients. Another community garden in Santa Maria CA and grown by Vocational Training Center, produced tomatoes for needy families through the local food bank.
Nathan Lyon, chef and spokesperson for the campaign, worked to encourage gardeners to grow their own tomatoes in soil improved with compost. Lyon, co-host of PBS’ Growing a Greener World and author of seasonal cookbook Great Food Starts Fresh, also offered healthy tomato-based recipes.
“The Million Tomato Compost Campaign has proven that people across the country are hungry—not only for fresh and healthy sustainable food, but also for the tools they need to grow healthy food on their own. That starts with good soil and compost,” Lyon said. “Starting with the soil is so important because healthy soil leads to healthy food, which builds healthy people and communities.”
Tomatoes are one of the most popular items grown at home, but they can be difficult to grow for beginning gardeners, the USCC said.
The USCC advises using compost as key to building productive soil. Adding compost can reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and allows soil to hold water well, which means plants need less water and gardeners can spend less time caring for their plants.
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A Game of Jenga<p>Think of it as a game of Jenga and the planet's climate system as the tower. For generations, we have been slowly removing blocks. But at some point, we will remove a pivotal block, such as the collapse of one of the major global ocean circulation systems, for example the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), that will cause all or part of the global climate system to fall into a planetary emergency.</p><p>But worse still, it could cause runaway damage: Where the tipping points form a domino-like cascade, where breaching one triggers breaches of others, creating an unstoppable shift to a radically and swiftly changing climate.</p><p>One of the most concerning tipping points is mass methane release. Methane can be found in deep freeze storage within permafrost and at the bottom of the deepest oceans in the form of methane hydrates. But rising sea and air temperatures are beginning to thaw these stores of methane.</p><p>This would release a powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, 30-times more potent than carbon dioxide as a global warming agent. This would drastically increase temperatures and rush us towards the breach of other tipping points.</p><p>This could include the acceleration of ice thaw on all three of the globe's large, land-based ice sheets – Greenland, West Antarctica and the Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica. The potential collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is seen as a key tipping point, as its loss could eventually <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/324/5929/901" target="_blank">raise global sea levels by 3.3 meters</a> with important regional variations.</p><p>More than that, we would be on the irreversible path to full land-ice melt, causing sea levels to rise by up to 30 meters, roughly at the rate of two meters per century, or maybe faster. Just look at the raised beaches around the world, at the last high stand of global sea level, at the end of the Pleistocene period around 120,0000 years ago, to see the evidence of such a warm world, which was just 2°C warmer than the present day.</p>
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The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation has a major effect on the climate. Praetorius (2018)
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