This is what's next

Joanna Detz

Executive Director / Co-Founder, EcoRI News 

There's tremendous opportunity beneath our feet.  

I'm talking about treasure that's not even buried. 

I'm talking about dirt.

The 4 to 5 feet of soil Rhode Island has was created over the course of 18,000 years. For centuries that soil supported agricultural economies, feeding those that worked the land. 

But somewhere along the way we started planting subdivisions instead of crops. A 34-year building boom in Rhode Island covered, polluted or impaired nearly 65,000 acres of land. 

Once soil is gone, it's not coming back. 

We need to start seeing our soil as a resource. Creating and maintaining good healthy soils will be critical to the success of efforts to increase local food production. Food will help Rhode Island grow, but only good soil can grow Rhode Island's food. 

How do we do it?

The solution is in the garbage.

Currently, most of the state's nutrient-rich food scrap is treated as trash — sent to the Central Landfill to be buried, where it does little more than produce methane. But small legislative measures and a nascent composting industry are poised to change the status quo. 

By composting food scrap and returning it to the earth, we have the opportunity to close the loop and boost the agricultural economy. We just need to shift our thinking about waste.

Once school children start seeing their apple cores as future dirt, we're really onto something.

So, what's next for Rhode Island? Look down. 

You're standing on it.


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