‘As a chef, I’m obsessive about food and the best ingredients, but over the last few years I’ve been on a journey focusing on where our food comes from and how it impacts the environment,’ remarks Gizzi Erskine.  ‘I’ve learnt that it all comes back to the soil, whether it’s animal, dairy, veg or grains – the soil is key to the food we eat and almost more importantly it’s crucial for the environment too. I’ve turned into a total soil geek!’ The chef and award-winning food writer Gizzi Erskine is partnering with the UK’s leading organic brand, Yeo Valley Organic, to get people talking about the importance of soil and regenerative farming as a solution to the climate crisis.  Together Gizzi and Tim Mead, of Yeo Valley Organic, have prepared a few simple steps to help people better understand our role within it all. See below for Gizzi’s garden tips to promote soil health.

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1. Switch your everyday purchases to organic ones

Supporting organic farming can help to slow down climate change. If you’re on a mission to make a difference, a really simple step you can make is to swap out your current groceries, like milk, cheese and yogurt, with organic alternatives. 

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2. Create your own compost

Home-made compost is a fantastic way of recycling plant material, feeding plants, soil life and locking carbon back into the ground.  Keep your old veg peelings, apple cores, banana skins and mouldy fruit – when added to a compost bin they will mulch down over time, encouraging worms, woodlice and insects to digest the food and create a pile of nutrient rich compost to spread on your soil.

3. Buy grass-fed meat, little and often

The grazing of plants by animals has a major, positive impact on climate change by cycling more carbon out of the atmosphere and putting it into the soil. By occasionally choosing to buy high-quality meat, you can have a positive impact on the environment.

4. Be sure to cover up

Keep bare soil covered at all times with a layer of green manure – introducing fast growing plants like clover, which protect soil and prevent erosion.  The plants pull carbon down from the atmosphere through photosynthesis, making carbohydrates and sugars that travel through the roots and into the soil, feeding the millions of microorganisms that live in the earth.

5. Avoid digging your soil

Digging destroys soil structure – tearing apart the home created by living organisms that create natural soil fertility. Avoid the use of chemical pesticides and artificial fertiliser which are designed to kill insects and other pests.

6. Use a mix of plants and flowers

Aim to introduce a range of different plants to create biodiversity in your garden. Grasses, shrubs, vegetables and legumes all thrive in harmony with each other and each of them plays a role in maintaining soil health.