What does dirt have to do with health? A lot more than you'd ever guess! Once you start digging into the details, you'll uncover unexpected connections. Start with the following two connections and then try to dig up your own!
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, burning brush, leaves, and other yard waste can release a variety of hazardous air pollutants, some of which can cause cancer or other adverse health effects. Compost instead!
Don't Treat Soil Like Dirt
Soil is a vital part of life, and healthy soil is necessary to support all of the life below and above ground. Have you ever read Horton Hears a Who? Remember how it turns out that there's a whole thriving village of Whos that live on that one tiny flower? The soil under your feet is home to millions of tiny creatures that you can't see. And when it comes to composting and farming, tiny creatures are the key. Sometimes these tiny insects and bacteria are called the “microherd” because these minute organisms are the most important livestock on a farm. People need to protect the microherd because they work hard to make the food we eat healthy and strong.
Have your students make up their own imaginary underworld picture. What do the tiny creatures look like? How are they bringing nutrients to the plants? What other jobs might they do? How does composting help take care of the critters in your underworld and help strengthen the soil? Take care of the dirt and it will take care of you.
The National Gardening Association coordinates the website www.kidsgardening.org. It has a wide variety of resources for teachers and parents to help start gardening projects. There are resources for funding and a network of schools that are gardening to help ensure your success. Get growing and sprout a youth garden!
Soil Helps the Sick
Have you ever gotten sick and had to take antibiotics? Some illnesses are caused by bacteria that your body can have a hard time fighting. Antibiotics help your body kill the bacteria, but where do antibiotics come from? They come from a variety of places in nature, but most come from the microorganisms living in healthy soil. Scientists believe the microorganisms make their own antibiotics because they have to compete with so many other microorganisms to stay alive. By composting, we are helping build and strengthen the population of microorganisms in the soils. They, in turn, help us get healthy when we're sick by providing us with the “recipe” for antibiotics.