Compiled, Scribed, and Edited
Robert Jan "Roy" van de Hoek, RC

Ballona Institute
322 Culver Blvd., Suite 317
Playa del Rey, California 90293
(310) 821-9045

Ernest Callenbach's SOIL Definition
People living in cities and suburbs have mostly lost the farmer's appreciation for soil; we tend to dismiss it as "dirt." But almost all life at the interface of air with water or soil, and ancient thinkers sensing this considered "earth" one of the four elements from which everything was created. (The others were AIR, FIRE, and WATER - still fundamental terms for us, especially if we understand fire to include sunlight.) Along with climate, soil determines what can grow and live in an area. Astonishingly, there is a greater mass of life under the soil surface than above it. It may be hard to believe, but when you look at a prairie with a herd of bison grazing on it, there is more total weight of life under the soil than in the huge bison.

If you crumble forest soil or good garden soil in your hands, or look at it with a magnifying glass, you will see that it is a complex mixture. It contains bits of rock rather like sand, along with decayed fragments of organic matter, humus. It often contains some clay, made of rock particles ground as fine as face powder which stick together when damp. It contains various minerals washed into it from nearby hills or mountains, or deposited on it in ancient times when it lay under a lake or sea. Soil normally harbors a network of roots and very thin root hairs that penetrate many feet down. It contains moisture and microscopic pockets of air.

Soil abounds with life and is constantly changing, like all things ecological. Even a handful of soil contains innumerable termites, worms, millipedes, miniature arthropods related to crabs and spiders, BACTERIA, and FUNGI. These beings are busy consuming nutrient materials from dead plants or animals.....................

Robert Jan "Roy" van de Hoek


SOIL is very important as we learned from Ernest Callenbach's definition. I can do no better. I would suggest that a careful rereading of the writings of George Washington Carver on SOIL are worth investigating by scientists and citizens alike. In summary, I certainly hope that urban city dwellers come to realize that the substance they call "dirt", whether found on a curb, in a park, in a lawn, beneath the trees, or in a driveway, is living soil, and not simply dirt.