TA News

Soil Health Expert Didi Pershouse Presents at TA

TA parent, Thetford resident, author, and soil health expert Didi Pershouse gave a presentation to Mr. Whitaker’s Horticulture class about the “soil carbon sponge.” With a simple experiment, she demonstrated the importance of healthy soils in our ecological communities.

In the experiment, Pershouse invited students to “rain” onto flour (a stand-in for degraded soil) and then onto bread (a stand-in for healthy soil). Pershouse then showed them a photo of a rain simulator (below), demonstrating how healthy soil naturally soaks up rain, filters water, and maintains its structural integrity when wet. These properties are important for the prevention of flooding, erosion, and algae blooms.

Students learned how soil health principles can help put atmospheric carbon to work building living landscapes that help to reverse climate change, and provide resilience in the face of extreme weather events.

Rain simulator showing the filtering properties of healthy v. degraded soils.
Didi Pershouse leads students in a soil sponge demonstration.

Besides being the mother of Alden and Henry Nichols, Didi Pershouse is the author of  The Ecology of Care: Medicine, Agriculture, Money, and the Quiet Power of Human and Microbial Communities and the teacher’s manual Understanding Soil Health and Watershed Function.

After two decades as a health care provider in Thetford Center, she now travels widely as a public speaker. She teaches participatory workshops both in person and online, helping to connect the dots between soil health, human health, water, and climate resiliency.  She is the president of the Soil Carbon Coalition,  the founder of the Center for Sustainable Medicine and the Land and Leadership Initiative, and a co-founder of the “Can we Rehydrate California?” Initiative. She was one of five speakers at the United Nations-FAO World Soil Day in 2017.  You can learn more about her work at



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