The Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. NOFA/Mass welcomes everyone who cares about food, where it comes from and how it’s grown

Growing Organically Since 1982

Earthworms, Calcium, and Aggregates, Oh My: Soil Testing & Interpretation for Growers at Black Dog Garden

July 28, 2018 - 4:00pm to 6:00pm
Black Dog Garden
19 Norwalk Acres Road
Monterey, MA

This event series is FREE. Please help us plan for the right number of attendees by registering (click the Brown Paper Tickets button)

Scholarships are available. Participants who would like to receive a soil test interpretation complementary with their registration must pay full price. (To apply please click here).

* Add $5 for walk in registration on day of event.  


This event is part of a workshop series that includes farms and homesteads from across the state. Check out to see if there is a similar workshop closer to you!

Our soil can sometimes seem like a strange and mysterious territory — it’s dark under there, and populated with unseen forces, like earthworms, minerals, microbes, insects, roots, fungi, and (depending on the history of the site) possibly heavy metals and other pollutants.

In this afternoon workshop, the NOFA/Mass technical support team, Laura Davis and Caro Roszell, will give a workshop in partnership with Ruth Green of Black Dog Garden.

The workshop will start with an introduction and tour of the site by Ruth Green. Black Dog Garden is a sustainable homestead in Monterey, MA, where Ruth lives and grows vegetables and fruit for personal consumption. She owns an organic landscaping business as well, and food production shares space with horticultural plantings and fruit trees. Areas under cultivation amount to 1/2 acre out of 2 acres in total, the rest being devoted to second-growth forest land. Green considers soil stewardship to be her most important task and has worked for 18 years learning to turn sticky clay soils into biologically active and nutrient-rich loam. She now wants to improve fertility and yields to respond to the climate change and food safety issues facing all of us.

Following the tour, Caro will dig in — literally — to a patch of the farm’s soil and explain how to assess soil for its ability to build and store organic carbon. Soils with greater levels of carbon are more resilient to weather extremes, produce healthier crops, hold water more effectively, and can remove CO2 from the atmosphere when there are healthy plants growing there.  Participants will receive a workbook of test protocols to take home, and will learn how to assess their own soil for carbon storage for measures like earthworm count, average root depth, aggregate grade, infiltration, soil respiration, and more.

We will spend the rest of the workshop with Laura Davis, NOFA/Mass Soil Testing Technical Advisor, who will teach participants about how to interpret a soil test. We will look at the soil test results from UFI’s plot as an example. Participants will learn about cation exchange capacity, pH, and soil organic matter. They will also learn about mineral levels and how to figure out how to calculate amendment application rates to address specific soil deficiencies.

As a part of the registration cost, workshop participants may bring their own soil test results (Logan Labs test results only) to the workshop for Laura Davis and receive a follow-up email with interpretation and analysis.

At the event, workshop participants will also have the option of purchasing a soil carbon proxy test kit at cost-of-materials, so they can test their own soil and track its carbon-sequestering progress.

More Info

Scholarships are available.  Click here for more information.

For information on our refund and inclement weather policy, click here.

For questions contact Caro Roszell, education events organizer, at or (508) 360-0874.

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