The life that lies beneath our feet is fundamental for our existence. Whether we take much notice is another story, as our soil and soil health doesn't get much attention these days.
It could be because there is just so much life in 1g of soil that it is hard to comprehend. 1 gram can contain as many micro-organisms, bacteria and fungi as there are people on the earth. As such, there's still so much to learn and explore in this underground kingdom. What is known for sure is that without this plethora of life, life as we know it would be impossible.
This is because plants rely on the cyclic transfer of nutrients and minerals from mycorrhizal fungi for sugars harnessed from photosynthesising. Alongside water, plants require phosphates, potassium and many other minerals to form their strong stalks, blossoming leaves and flowers. The specialist fungi inhabit the roots of plants to enable this nutrient cycle, in return they receive much need carbon in the form of sugars, which allows them to prosper too.
This is a generalised view of this crucial cycle, of course, there are many different species of plants and specific mycorrhizal fungi to support them. But the principle remains a fact and one that we at Wunder Workshop believe is the foundation for beautifully grown herbs, spices, and even mushrooms!
With the aim to intensify crop production, increasing yields in smaller spaces, farmers have sought outside help from large agribusinesses and chemical manufacturers. The fungicides and herbicides applied to decrease the likelihood of rot, pests and competition from other plants show efficacy. At least, they do at the start.
After a number of years depleting the life in our soil, more external inputs are required - all those nutrients that were once produced naturally by fungi and other life - now bought and sprayed to enable continued crop seasons. It is a sad pattern that actually leaves farmers in their own cycle of debt. Not quite the symbiotic relationship nature had planned out for us.
We see this when we visit farms across the world from Sri Lanka to Europe and the UK - dependency on big agribusinesses such as Monsanto and Bayer. Their sales reps even deliver umbrellas and caps to traditional, organic farmers in the highlands north of Kandy, Sri Lanka to woo them across.
Yet, many farmers in these communities stay true to their principles. Supporting an abundance of life, through regenerative farming practices that support soil health. They also promote biodiversity, enabling more wildlife and flora to establish themselves in the cycle - knowing that breaking this cycle has devastating effects.
Plus, a biodiverse and nutrient dense soil has other benefits - richly nutritious and flavourful produce.
Working with farmers who retain their principles is an inspiration to us. It is the world that we want to support and seek to grow through Wunder Workshop. That's why sourcing from regenerative farms, organic certified land and sustainable wild-harvesting is the foundation of our sourcing practices.
Our soil is the beginning of the nutrient cycle, these first transfers give plants life, and in turn, us too. So we save the soul of the soil to support plants and people.