Soil Health Guide

This register is meant to provide chefs and consumers with the simplest metric by which to begin to understand the extraordinarily complex set of land, circumstances, people and systems that comprise a farm or ranch. We believe that, while far from perfect, the amount of organic matter in the soil, has a strong influence on the flavor, nutrition and environmental impact of the products grown.* For more information on SOM, visit this page.

Overall, we believe that there is more potential benefit to access to this information than the harm from misinterpretation of it. Many chefs and consumers do not understand the role of soil biology in plant, animal and bodily health, and the goal of this list is to prompt greater understanding. We encourage farmers and ranchers to self report their Soil Organic Matter% by emailing us at perennialfarming@gmail.com. Once we reach a milestone of 500 farms we will begin creating a stronger verification methodology but for now this list is based on the honor system and the submission of a copy of a test result.

*There are many examples of the inadequacy of such a list. Four are given below:

  • Farm A grows one breed of tomatoes and has a lot of sun while Farm B grows another breed and has less sun. The farm with a higher SOM% may not have the tastier or more nutritious tomato.
  • Rancher A has just started ranching previously degraded land and is doing a great job restoring it but has a lower SOM% than Rancher B who has inherited the ranch and is actually mismanaging a previously well-run ranch.
  • A farm in Wisconsin is likely to have a higher SOM% than a farm in Arizona. Comparisons across regions and soil types may not be indicative of the respective efforts of the farmers.
  • Farmer A treats his workers very badly and Farmer B is a model employer. A chef/consumer may not want to support Farmer A, regardless of the farm's SOM%,