Dr. Elaine Ingham to visit Living Web Farms, Train Farmers to Improve Soil Health

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Dr. Elaine Ingham is an iconic figure in organic farming, and a world-renowned soil microbiologist. In March 2015, Dr. Ingham will visit Living Web Farms outside of Asheville, NC, and headline the annual NC Organic Growers School, bringing her wisdom on soil health to thousands of farmers and gardeners.

Dr. Elaine Ingham

Dr. Elaine Ingham will share soil management wisdom with farmers and gardeners in Asheville, NC, March 6 & 7, 2015.

I knew the soil was alive, but I had no idea how alive until I met Elaine.

Louise Langsner has been gardening on the same land for over 40 years. Together with her partner Drew, Louise grows food, cooks community meals, and welcomes countless visitors to her farm in North Carolina for workshops in woodworking and basket weaving. The Langsner’s Country Workshops business has grown hand in hand with their farm and homestead, and imparted gifts of food and knowledge to many who have passed through, since 1974. Ask Langsner to cite the biggest influence on her gardening, and she won’t hesitate for a second. “Elaine Ingham. She is the most inspirational person in the gardening and farming world that I have ever met.”

Indeed, even a cursory review of Dr. Elaine Ingham’s research and resume will leave any grower spellbound. Dr. Ingham is a world-renowned soil biologist, who has made it her life’s work to study dynamic relationships between soil microorganisms. Via light microscopy, she identifies and observes bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematode, and other soil critters whose feeding relationships quite literally support all life on the planet. Soil is possibly the most fundamental non-negotiable need, shared by all living beings. From Ingham’s work, we begin to understand just why soil is so amazing, and how it works. “I knew that soil was alive,” says Louise Langsner, “but I had no idea how alive until I met Elaine.”

Langsner first met Ingham during a visit she made to Hendersonville, NC in 1997, where Dr. Ingham delivered an impassioned and memorable speech to a group of farmers, many of whom were on the cutting edge of organic agriculture, before organic was a household word. Now, as backyard compost bins and lasagna gardens pepper the American landscape, Dr. Ingham’s work holds practical relevance for an even wider, and exponentially growing audience.

On March 6 and 7, 2015, Dr. Ingham will visit Asheville North Carolina, bringing trainings on soil health to Living Web Farms, a non profit education and research farm in Mills River. Ingham will first provide an intensive half-day soil management and composting class, touring Living Web Farms’ organic vegetable farm, forced-air composting facility, and compost tea operation. Then, on March 7th, Ingham will deliver a keynote address at the 22nd annual Organic Growers School, a conference for farmers and gardeners at UNC-Asheville. The keynote event will be accompanied by a social and silent auction, allowing attendees to mingle and enjoy fresh food, local beer, and bid on tools, books, services, and other garden and farm related auction items, to support the work of Organic Growers School.

Meredith Leigh, Education and Outreach Coordinator at Living Web Farms, and Event Coordinator for the Organic Growers School Conference explains, “Dr. Ingham’s visit will bring the relevance of soil life, which you cannot see with the naked eye, right into the face of all kinds of growers. Her work is scientific no doubt, but her message is practical and action-oriented, one that all growers can adopt to improve their practice.”

Ingham’s keynote speech at the Organic Growers School Conference will touch on this very intersection between academic science and the day-to-day of farming. “In so many ways, the way we do science is limiting to the way we exercise scientific findings,” says Leigh. In the evening address on March 7th, Ingham will speak about her personal experience reconciling reductionist science with holistic farming. “When it comes to land management, the whole absolutely is greater than the sum of its parts, and Elaine’s work proves it,” Leigh continues, “but we would not know that without the take-it-apart science that got her there. It’s a fascinating, and confounding relationship.”

And while farmers rely on science, and relish efficient technique, inspiration carries equal weight in such a risky business. Langsner admits that she has improved her garden’s soil and her composting technique by leaps and bounds since first hearing Elaine’s teaching, and the rewards dig deep. “Watching hard clay turn into friable, fragrant soil is one of the most satisfying things I have done in my life,” she says.

Attendance to Dr. Ingham’s workshop on March 6 at Living Web Farms is $35.00. Register at LivingWebFarms.org. Admittance to the keynote address on March 7th is $12 for Organic Growers School Conference attendees, and $20.00 for participants not attending the weekend’s Conference. Visit http://www.organicgrowersschool.org. For more information about Dr. Elaine Ingham, visit Soil Food Web, Inc.

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