Our work at SAGE garden mostly consisted of spreading leaves and mulch to help return organic matter to the garden beds and combat some minor seasonal flooding.
This garden is in a lowlying area between hills next to a field that is a mini seasonal wetlands.
That means that, despite the parttime saturation, the soils are naturally, deep, rich in organic matter and well developed. The work we did adding organic matter and the naturalistic farming methods used in the garden ensure that the soil will not be depleted and will continue to produce quality produce. Adding leaf litter layers enriches the soil with “brown” OM (high
C:N ratio) and helps to insulate the garden beds while they are inactive for the winter. 2. How does soil make this project work? Be specific. Show some data, evidence, research that is related to the project or subjects related.
Soil is the main engine behind the SAGE garden, without soil they would have to garden hydroponically which requires 3x as much infrastructure. Without healthy thriving soils that are constantly being replenished the SAGE program would not be able to produce the 34 tons of necessary food each year to struggling families, and students. By obsessively adding organic matter the garden is able to be till free. Because by adding compost you are able to increase soil porosity and structure, moisture holding capacity, and particle size variation. 3. Is there a way that soil management changes could improve this project?
The organic and naturalistic methods used by the gardeners at SAGE are very soiloriented, careful to preserve not only a proper nutrient balance but also a soil structure more similar to nature. They achieve this by harvesting using “cut and drop” methods; simply leaving the unused parts of the plants on the ground around the trim site and cutting down finished plants instead of pulling them up and disrupting the natural structure forming in the soil. The land around the garden does have a tendency to flood in the winter which lowers potential productivity. They have been adding slowdecomposing organic matter, mainly wood chips, in an attempt to raise the surface above the water table. There are waterloving and semiaquatic plants that could be planted around the flooding area to absorb some water and help minimize the flooding. 4. From this project, what did you learn about soils that you didn’t know before? Putting cardboard in the soil is, in fact, very effective to prevent the growth of grass and weeds. Of course, it is necessary to add organic matter on top of the cardboard, like spreading a thick layer of leaves, in order to help break down the cardboard and create nice compost soil.
When dealing with the flooded path caused by the minor seasonal flood, all we were asked to do is to add a thick layer of wood chips on top of the flooded path. There is no cheaper way than using wood chips to raise the paths. 5. What is the broader impact of the organization or project you helped with?
It supplies food to the people who cannot entirely supply for themselves. This can include people who have had a medical issue or who have just lost their job. This decreases the population of people who are starving due to lack of food. They also promote the use of holistic, organic and sustainable gardening methods and the localization of food resources.
6. Soil description of the place where you workedthis must include at minimum 2 soils maps (one that shows the larger landscape context of the project area and one showing the project area) and soil series descriptions of important soils within the area. Map Legend
Map Unit Name
Acres in AOI
Percent of AOI
Amity silt loam, 0 to 3 percent slopes 12.5
Waldo silty clay loam, 0 to 3 percent slopes
Willamette silt loam, 0 to 3 percent