Sustaining the Future: Compass Green

As the Earth’s climate changes, droughts and depleted soil threaten agriculture worldwide.  However, there’s good news because new, sustainable farming methods can keep the planet green and growing.  Justin Cutter and Nick Runkle, two twenty-something New Yorkers, are men on a mission to spread the word and teach the techniques of sustainable agriculture across the USA and beyond.

Justin and Nick have created the Compass Green project to showcase biointensive methods of sustainable farming.  They want to educate school children and communities about the need for Earth-friendly practices.  According to Nick, the Earth needs our help NOW.  “Conventional farming is destroying our farmland,” he said.

Justin described two of the simple changes to traditional farming practices that will help restore the land and provide better crop support.   He learned the techniques while working with John Jeavons, founder of Grow Biointensive:

(1) “Deep-soil preparation – loosening the soil two feet  instead of the usual six inches  – will lead to larger, healthier plants with better yields.  Double digging (as it’s called) aerates the soil and allows the roots to reach deeper for water.”

  (2) “Today, most crops are planted in rows but plants are healthier and stronger when they are planted close together in garden beds about three to six feet wide.  Close plant spacing provides better moisture retention and soil protection.   It creates a ‘living mulch.’”

Compass Green has already hit the road in New York, Vermont, and North Carolina.  Its demonstration vehicle – literally – is a truck, retrofitted with a Plexiglass roof and sides, which has been converted to a greenhouse.  A model of sustainability, the truck runs on waste vegetable oil and the plants are irrigated from rainwater barrels.  Soon solar panels will be installed to provide electricity for the greenhouse’s lights and heat.

Nick and Justin used an online funding site, Kickstarter, to raise more than $27 thousand to get their show and tell on the highways and byways of America.  They are taking the mobile greenhouse to schools and communities across the country, focusing on the Midwest this fall and the West Coast in the spring of 2012.  At each stop, the men link communities to local farmers, give tours of the greenhouse, and offer demonstrations of sustainable farming techniques with hands-on workshops for students and parents.

Follow the link if you’d like Compass Green to help your community chart a course toward sustainable farming.

Nick and Justin, thank you for helping to educate kids about taking care of this beautiful planet!


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