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“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”
Hippocrates

Cover Crops Deserve WAY More Hype!

G'Day Folks,

The winter solstice has come and gone, the shortest day of the year is over and now we start preparing for Spring. This means preparing the soil for mixed cover crops to be sown as soon as the soil starts to warm. Cover crops are a mixed variety of grasses, legumes, cereals and any other species of plants a farmer wishes to sow his or her soil with in order to protect it and rejuvenate it after months of vegetable crops have taken their toll.

So why do we plant cover crops after our veggie crops?

Well the soil much like our stomach microbiome becomes unhealthy when it receives a monocultural diet (essentially the same vegetable over and over again, or in the humans case processed foods and low diversity of whole foods). When we limit the diversity in our soil, we limit the diversity of living organisms which can exist within it. These living organisms unlock the secrets to a healthy soil and do the same thing for the human body.

A few years ago now, we had a serious disease problem with our lettuce crops, they just kept dying all of a sudden, right before harvest. We ended up getting samples sent off to get tested but were told it was a virus in the soil. An old farmer then told me that whenever the soil becomes diseased, you should grow root crops to change the diversity of microbes and bring back the balance of the good guys. We did this and it worked immediately, as soon as we harvested the carrots, we planted lettuce heads and the disease was no longer a problem. We now use cover crops with up to 14 species of plants to give our soil organisms as diverse a mix as possible. Since using crop rotations and cover cropping we have not had any issues with plant diseases, which makes you think about your own stomachs microbiome and whether you're giving it the diversity it needs.

It's important to highlight, had we been operating under a non-organic farming system, our soil agronomist would have simply told us what chemical to use in killing all forms of life in the soil, because they are unnecessary with chemical fertilisers anyway (or so we think). This sort of ignorance has resulted in our most fertile and healthy soils becoming a sterile medium which modern science sees useful only to anchor the plant's roots, the rest they believe can be supplied to the plant through chemical fertilisers to feed the plant and pesticides to keep these sick plants alive (sounds like a great way to sell unnecessary products).

Soil and the human gut contain approximately the same number of active microorganisms, while the human gut microbiome diversity is only 10% of soil biodiversity and has decreased dramatically with the modern lifestyle. About 200 different species of bacteria, viruses and fungi live in your large intestine. The bacteria and other micro-organisms in your gut are known as your gut microbiome. The bacteria help to break down food, turning it into nutrients your body can use and much more!

We are learning that the variety of bacteria in your gut is an important indicator of the health of your microbiome .The importance of the gut to our overall health is a topic of increasing research in the medical community. Research is showing us that our gut microbiome can affect every organ in our body.

It is understood that there are links between gut health and:

- the immune system
- mental health
- autoimmune diseases
- endocrine disorders – such as type 2 diabetes
- gastrointestinal disorders – such as irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease
- cardiovascular disease
- cancer, and
- sleep.

We are only just beginning to understand the close linkage between the soil microbiome and the human intestinal microbiome that has evolved during evolution and is still developing. A low fibre diet of processed food has led to a loss of beneficial microbes. At the same time, loss of soil biodiversity is observed in much of our farming land across Australia. The increasing use of chemicals, low plant biodiversity and extractive soil management practices have had a negative effect on the biodiversity of soil and crop microorganisms.

We have seriously interfered with the microbial cycle of humans and our soil. In order to correct these interferences, we need to adopt a different perspective and to consider the human intestinal microbiome as well as the soil/root microbiome as ‘superorganisms’ which, by close contact, replenish each other with the diversity of life forms that hold the secrets to preventing disease and increasing our health to what it once was.

Thank YOU for joining us on this epic journey & supporting Your local farmer!

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