Fund the Healthy Soils Program - For Healthy Communities and a Healthy Climate!


Healthy Soils for Healthy Communities, Climate and Environmental Justice!

Healthy Soils for:

Food Justice - As we face the continued threat of the novel coronavirus, we are reminded that healthy soils are required in order to produce the truly healthy nutrient dense foods needed to support a robust human microbiome and strong immune system. This pandemic and other public health threats disproportionately impact communities of color. We must scale out healthy soils practices so that everyone has access to nutrient dense food.

Environmental Justice - The environmental benefits of healthy soils practices address challenges disproportionately impacting communities of color: greening urban spaces, reducing pesticide exposure to farmworkers, reducing water pollution, mitigating stormwater runoff and directly addressing the climate crisis.

Climate Justice - Soil loss is a major contributor to climate change; this program would provide guidance on proven ways to mitigate or even reverse carbon loss from soils. We have a moral responsibility to implement these readily available strategies for addressing climate change.

UPDATE, 01/14/20 - The Healthy Soils Bill has been signed into law!!! However, this is just the first step to creating a Healthy Soils Program - now we need to make sure it gets funded this budget season! Please send a message to your legislators to THANK THEM for passing the bill and ask for their support for the Healthy Soils Program during the upcoming budget season.

Use this form to THANK your legislator for voting to create the Mass. Healthy Soils Program and ask for their support for upcoming budget appropriations to fund it!

This Healthy Soils Bill, which was passed on January 6th, 2020 as part of the Economic Development Bill, creates a Massachusetts Healthy Soils Program. This program will provide grants, technical assistance and education on the benefits and implementation of healthy soils best practices for all land use types across the Commonwealth. The timing is perfect, as the state is also about to finalize its first roadmap for healthy soils, the Healthy Soils Action Plan, another project which we at NOFA/Mass had the honor of helping to create. The bill also adds an expert on healthy soils practices to the Mass. Food Policy Council.

However… the law only creates the program and establishes a fund. We will now have to seek budget appropriations and other means to fund it!...

The full text of the original bill can be viewed here:

A fact sheet on the original bill with more talking points, here:

Did you know?

  • Degraded soils make farmers more vulnerable to drought and floods, while healthy soils make them more resilient!

  • Healthy soils require less pesticides and less fertilizer.

  • Healthy soils are less prone to leeching and runoff, preserving watershed health.

Thank you for taking action today to fund the Mass. Healthy Soils Program and for passing this action alert on to your networks!

Extended background: What are the benefits of healthy, carbon-rich soils?

The benefits of healthy soils are not limited to removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Healthy soils also:

Hold more water- Healthy soils essentially act as a sponge—they retain moisture better in times of low rainfall and can hold more when rainfall is high, reducing risk of flooding to nearby lowlands. An 1% increase in soil organic matter on just one acre enables the land to hold an additional 20,000 gallons of water.

Reduce run-off- That same sponge-like quality allows soils to naturally resist erosion. Also, healthy soils can both chemically and biologically hold more nutrients, meaning they retain more of the fertilizers applied. This reduces downstream pollution, which can impact watershed health in many ways including dangerous algae blooms, contaminated drinking water, and other biological disruptions.

Require less fertilizer- The abundant soil life in healthy soils provides much of the nutritional needs for crops. Fungi and bacteria have coevolved with plants to provide essential nutrients by extracting them from the organic and geological components of the soil in exchange for carbon (in the form of sugars).

Result in better, healthier crops-  Science shows that the greater diversity of organisms in the soil, the greater nutrient profile of the soil. Well-nourished soil will grow plants with optimal nutrient profiles. If animals and people eat those plants, they will have greater micronutrient intake. Just like plants, animals, and humans, soils need to be fed in order to keep the vibrant and diverse community of organisms alive.

The full text of the bill can be viewed here:

A fact sheet on the bill with more talking points, here:

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