Skip to main content

The Soil Sponge Workshop

How the Biological Workforce
Regulates Climate and Provides Flood,
Drought, and Wildfire Resilience

Scheduling and Delivery

This is a three-part, live online discussion workshop.

  • The workshops are weekend-long events held over three days. Sessions last ~4 hours and will be held daily for three consecutive days.
  • Sessions are scheduled for the following dates and times:
    • March 29, 30, 31. Daily sessions will be held from 2 PM to 6 PM Eastern Standard Time (New York, USA). Convert your time zone here.​
    • April 12, 13, 14. Daily sessions will be held from 10 AM to 2 PM Eastern Daylight Time. (New York, USA). Convert your time zone here.
  • The sessions will be held on the Zoom platform. You will be sent the relevant link after registration.
  • Sessions will be recorded, so if you miss a session, you can get caught up.

Workshop Overview

Get ready! This workshop on whole-systems landscape function will give you an entirely new view of climate, soils, water, and economics. You will meet people from around the world, and come away feeling inspired by a new understanding of how we can address many of our major challenges through simple changes in land management. You will learn why the living matrix of a healthy “soil sponge” is fundamental infrastructure that makes life on land possible, and how the work of other species creates our climate and weather and underlies all successful economies.

If you sign up, be prepared to get into deep discussions with other participants, and to reflect on your own experiences. The class includes small group discussions, large group discussions, journaling, the use of living systems frameworks, as well as short informational lectures and powerpoints.

Completion of the course also serves to fulfill the prerequisite requirement for those who want to join the international Land and Leadership Development Community.

The regeneration of a deep soil sponge can provide interrelated benefits such as:

  • Healthier crops, animals, and people
  • Food and water security
  • Cooler regional temperatures
  • Reduction of wildfire risk
  • Increased resilience to flooding and drought
  • Reduced erosion, dredging, and road repairs
  • Prevention of algae blooms and dead zones
  • Cleaner air and water
  • Reduced conflicts over resources
  • Thriving local economies
  • Putting atmospheric carbon to work creating landscapes that support all of life.

This isn’t your usual “how to” workshop. It isn’t about using heavy equipment to move soil around. It isn’t about buying biological or chemical products. This workshop helps to develop the mind that can see watersheds/catchments as working wholes, see and measure the work of other species, and understand where specific well-designed local actions can create enormous positive outcomes downstream.

We will draw on the diverse experiences within the group, as well as successes of innovative land managers who are providing real value to their communities by reducing damages from storms and crop diseases, while restoring the dignity and profitability of farming.

Participants will gain:

  • An increased ability to evaluate the effectiveness of land-management decisions, practices, and policies
  • A clearer picture of soil’s central role in addressing current economic, social, and environmental needs
  • An introduction to working with living-systems frameworks as an instrument for personal development and effective decision making
  • A community of practice: deep discussions with people working toward similar goals

Workshop Topics

Landscapes that Work for All Life

A living soil sponge can soak up rain, store and filter water, and provide health, resilience, and thriving economies for the communities that grow from it. What is the soil sponge and why is it essential infrastructure for life on land? How does a healthy soil sponge provide resilience to flooding, drought, and wildfires? How does biology slow and sink water on a total landscape scale? How does nature grow a soil sponge, and how can we help?

Collaborating with the Essential Workforce of Other Species 

Other species are the essential workers that build and repair the foundational infrastructure of our Earth, and provide the goods and services that we depend on every day. What are the job descriptions in a functional landscape? How does biological work regulate local and global temperatures, create rain, and drive the water and carbon cycles? What currencies does this natural workforce use in its economy, and how can we participate in a larger economy (without money) that enfolds our own? What are the principles of land management that this natural workforce uses, and how can we apply those principles to farming and ranching?  

Measuring Change for Long Term Success 

Many people assume that Best Management Practices will always lead to favorable outcomes, and trust that change can be modeled and predicted by experts. That assumption has led to some catastrophic failures that could have been avoided with some simple observations along the way. How do YOU know if your soil’s structure and function is actually improving? What tests are useful and affordable? Should you share your data or keep it private? When should a project use monitoring, and when is it safe to trust in computer-simulated models of landscape function? 

Money, Life, and Land 

Our economic systems and our land systems are inextricably linked, in ways that are often hidden to us. How can we deepen our understanding of the relationship between the soil sponge and functioning ecosystems and economies? What are the costs of degraded land, and who is paying those costs? Can we redirect those funds toward land regeneration? Where will the money for regeneration come from and what difference does the sourcing of funding make? Are the emerging markets for soil carbon, water, and ecosystem services actually working from a living systems perspective? What other approaches are there?  

Choosing Effective Intervention Points 

Human relationships play a large role in effective land regeneration, but many initiatives rely primarily on technology, and impersonal incentives. We will look at several examples of how support groups, mentoring, and communities of practice are growing healthy landscapes and driving change at a regional and national scale. Why are some regenerative land projects gaining enormous momentum while others are stalling? How do rules, “experts” and research studies help make change, and when do they disempower people from taking action? How do we design projects and policies that grow human and ecological capability and engage people for the long haul?
 

(Note: these topics may change somewhat based on our discussions, but this gives an idea of where we likely will go.)

About your Instructor
Didi Pershouse

Didi’s teaching style is specifically geared toward creating long-term working groups of diverse people with common aims: clean water and abundant food for all of life; healthy, safe, and resilient communities; thriving ecosystems and economies; and purposeful lives.
Didi Pershouse is the author of The Ecology of Care: Medicine, Agriculture, Money, and the Quiet Power of Human and Microbial Communities and Understanding Soil Health and Watershed Function. She teaches participatory workshops both in person and online, helping to show the nested relationships between soil health, human health, water cycles, and climate resiliency. She is the founder of the Land and Leadership Initiative and the Center for Sustainable Medicine, and a co-founder of the “Can we Rehydrate California?” Initiative. She is an independent trainer and curriculum developer for the UN-FAO Farmer Field School Program and the Andhra Pradesh Community Managed Natural Farming Initiative in India. She was one of five speakers at the United Nations-FAO World Soil Day in 2017.

FAQs

Is this course completely online?

Yes. The workshop is held on Zoom. You will need to download Zoom to your computer if you don’t already have it. Please do this ahead of time so you don’t miss the start of the first session.

Is this course self paced?

No. This is a three-part, live online discussion workshop.

  • Students can choose between Workshop A and Workshop B, held in March and April 2024, OR wait to be notified of the upcoming sessions, at dates yet to be determined.
  • The Workshop A, Weekend Intensive takes place Friday, Saturday, Sunday, March 29, 30, 31 Daily sessions will be held from  2 PM to 6 PM Eastern Standard Time (New York, USA).
  • The Workshop B, Weekend Intensive takes place Friday, Saturday, Sunday, April 12, 13, 14. Daily sessions will be held from 10 AM to 2 PM Eastern Daylight Time. (New York, USA).
  • Sessions will be recorded, so if you miss a session you can get caught up.
  • The sessions will be held on the Zoom platform. You will be sent the relevant link after registration.

When can I start?

This is a three-part, live online discussion workshop.

  • The workshops are weekend-long events held over three days. Sessions last ~4 hours and will be held daily for three consecutive days.
  • Sessions are scheduled for the following dates March 29, 30, 31  and April 12, 13, 14, 2024
  • The sessions will be held on the Zoom platform. You will be sent the relevant link after registration.
  • Sessions will be recorded, so if you miss a session, you can get caught-up.

What will I learn?

Whether you are a farmer, a policymaker, a journalist, or an investor trying to make a change in the world, after taking this course you will see the potential of simple strategic land-management decisions to create the conditions for land to naturally regenerate its water-absorbing sponge-like structure and function. Click here to download a full class description.

How many sessions are in the Soil Sponge Workshop?

There are 3 sessions per Workshop, each 4 hours long.

How much does it cost?

The workshop costs $300USD

How long will it take me to complete it?

  • The workshop is a 3-day event (three daily sessions over a weekend) and is scheduled for the following 2 groups of dates: March 29, 30, 31, and April 12, 13, 14, 2024.
  • Students can choose between Workshop A and Workshop B, held in March and April 2024, OR wait to be notified of the upcoming sessions, at dates yet to be determined.
  • The Workshop A, Weekend Intensive takes place Friday, Saturday, Sunday, March 29, 30, 31 Daily sessions will be held from  2 PM to 6 PM Eastern Standard Time (New York, USA).
  • The Workshop B, Weekend Intensive takes place Friday, Saturday, Sunday, April 12, 13, 14. Daily sessions will be held from 10 AM to 2 PM Eastern Daylight Time. (New York, USA).
  • Sessions will be recorded, so if you miss a session you can get caught up.
  • The sessions will be held on the Zoom platform. You will be sent the relevant link after registration.

Do I need any qualifications to start the course?

The courses are designed for people with no background in the field.

What will I take away from this course?

Whether you are a farmer, a policymaker, a journalist, or an investor trying to make a change in the world, after taking this course you will see the potential of simple strategic land-management decisions to create the conditions for land to naturally regenerate its water-absorbing sponge-like structure and function.

What Does This Privacy Policy Cover?

Soil Foodweb School LLC (“SOIL FOODWEB”) is committed to your right to privacy.  This privacy policy explains how we may use or disclose information that we obtain from or about you through your use or in connection with your use of our website.  For the purposes of this Privacy Policy, the term “website” or “websites” identifies all web pages found on or related to the following URL’s:

www.soilfoodweb.com

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at [email protected].

How Do We Collect Personal Information:

SOIL FOODWEB provides access on or through its website to a wide range of content, services, and media.  Users may subscribe to register for classes and workshops, subscribe to electronic newsletters, request services, inquire about training sessions, and apply for job opportunities.  SOIL FOODWEB may require you to voluntarily provide personal information that we use to facilitate all of these features.

What Personal Information We Collect:

Personal information may include your name and contact information, like your company name, mailing address, phone number, user or login name, password, or email address, payment information (like credit card numbers).  Personal information also includes any written text or communications, notes, or inquiries that you provide either on our website or by e-mail communication directly or indirectly with SOIL FOODWEB.

How We Use Your Personal Information:  

SOIL FOODWEB uses (or “processes”) personal information only as necessary for our legitimate business interests, which include improvements to our products, services, and content on our website, and also in order to respond to queries or requests, complete registrations and payments, fulfill orders, and schedule service or training.  From time-to-time, SOIL FOODWEB may use personal information to contact you to send you information about our company, classes, or other services. 

You consent to these processes by providing your personal information.  You may update your personal information or “opt out” from receiving certain communications and correspondence from us at any time through email correspondence sent to [email protected].

Retention of Your Personal Information:

SOIL FOODWEB will retain your personal information for as long as necessary to fulfill respect processes, as well as to fulfill any obligations under applicable law.

Rights of Data Owners in and to their Personal Information:

Where applicable law requires (and subject to any exceptions), you may have the right to request SOIL FOODWEB to provide you with your personal information or to delete your personal information that is held by us.  You may also have the right to restrict or object to use or processing of your personal information. You may exercise these rights by contacting us through email correspondence sent to [email protected], using the subject line “Personal Information Review Request” or “Delete Account” or “Delete My Information.”

Disclosure And Access to Personal Information:

SOIL FOODWEB considers your use of our website to be private.  However, SOIL FOODWEB may access or disclose information about you and/or the content of your communications with us, in order to: (1) comply with the law or legal process served on SOIL FOODWEB; (2) enforce and investigate potential violations of our Terms of Use, including use of this site to participate in, or facilitate, activities that violate the law; or (3) protect the rights, property, or safety of SOIL FOODWEB employees, customers, or the public.  From time to time, SOIL FOODWEB may also disclose information to selected business partners, or other third parties offering products or services in which you may be interested, provided that such third parties agree to comply with the provisions of this Privacy Policy with respect to the use of your personal information. You consent to the access and disclosures outlined in this section.

How We Collect Non-Personal Information:

SOIL FOODWEB may obtain non-personal information from your use of our website and through the use of commonly-used information-gathering tools.  These tools may include “Cookies,” which are pieces of information shared between your web browser and a website. Non-personal information may include information about the browser that you use to access the site, the operating system that you are running, what items you clicked on the applicable web page, how long you viewed a certain page, and information about the website you accessed immediately before you accessed our website.  SOIL FOODWEB may aggregate your non-personal information with the non-personal information of other users of SOIL FOODWEB’s website or of other non-personal information collected offline. SOIL FOODWEB also may collect anonymous aggregated information, like general traffic patterns within our website, to help maintain the flow and content of the website. Any and all of this non-personal information may be used to support SOIL FOODWEB’s commercial, marketing, and customer service activities, or for any other reason.

Use of Cookies:

Use of cookies enables a faster and easier experience for the user.  A cookie cannot read data off your computer’s hard drive. For information on cookies, please refer to www.aboutcookies.org.

There are different kinds of cookies with different functions:

Session cookies These are only stored on your computer during your web session. They are automatically deleted when the browser is closed. They usually store an anonymous session ID allowing you to browse a website without having to login to each page. They do not collect any information from your computer.
Persistent cookies A persistent cookie is one stored as a file on your computer, and it remains there when you close your web browser. The cookie can be read by the website that created it when you visit that website again.
First-party cookies The function of this type of cookie is to retain your preferences for a particular website for the entity that owns that website. They are stored and sent between SOIL FOODWEB’s servers and your computer’s hard drive. They are not used for anything other than for personalization as set by you. These cookies may be either Session or Persistent cookies.
Third-party cookies The function of this type of cookie is to retain your interaction with a particular website for an entity that does not own that website. They are stored and sent between the third-party’s server and your computer’s hard drive. These cookies are usually Persistent cookies.

 

We generally use cookies as follows:

Functionality Some cookies allow our Sites to remember choices you make (such as your username, language or the region you are in) and provide enhanced features. For instance, a Site may be able to remember your login details, so that you do not have to repeatedly sign in to your account when using a particular device to access our Sites. These cookies can also be used to remember changes you have made to text size, font and other parts of web pages that you can customize. They may also be used to provide services you have requested such as viewing a video or commenting on an article. The information these cookies collect is usually anonymized. They do not gather any information about you that could be used for advertising or remember where you have been on the internet
Performance Some cookies collect information about how visitors use a Site, for instance which pages visitors go to most often, and if they get error messages from web pages. They also allow us to record and count the number of visitors to a Site, all of which enables us to see how visitors use a Site in order to improve the way that the Site works. The information these cookies collect is normally anonymous and is used to improve how our Sites works. However, some of these cookies may include Personal Information. Please consult your web browser’s ‘Help’ documentation or visit www.aboutcookies.org. for more information about how to turn cookies on and off for your browser
Marketing These cookies are used to deliver content relevant to your interests on a Site and third party sites based on how you interact with our advertisements or content

 

Use of Web Beacons:

Other tools include “Web Beacons,” which are clear electronic images that can recognize certain types of information on your computer, such as cookies, when you view our website tied to the web beacon, and a description of the website tied to the web beacon. SOIL FOODWEB may use web beacons to operate and improve our website and e-mail communications.  Web beacons can be used alone or in conjunction with cookies to compile information about users’ usage of our website and interaction with e-mails.  SOIL FOODWEB may use information from web beacons in combination with other data we have about our clients to provide you with information about SOIL FOODWEB and our services.  SOIL FOODWEB may conduct this review on an anonymous basis.

Use of Google Analytics:

SOIL FOODWEB may use Google Analytics, a web analytics service provided by Google, Inc. (“Google”).  Google Analytics uses cookies to help websites analyze how users use the site. The information generated by the cookie about your use of our website (including your IP address) will be transmitted to and stored by Google on servers in the United States.  Google will use this information for the purpose of evaluating your use of the applicable website, compiling reports on website activity, and providing other services relating to website activity and internet usage for SOIL FOODWEB.  Google may also transfer this information to third parties where required to do so by law, or where such third parties process the information on Google’s behalf. You may refuse the use of cookies by selecting the appropriate settings on your browser, however, please note that if you do this you may not be able to use the full functionality of our website.  By using our website, you consent to the processing of data about you by Google in the manner and for the purposes set out above.

Links To Other Websites:

Our website may contain third-party links that provide access to other websites, not maintained by SOIL FOODWEB or its affiliates.  If you click on these third-party links, you will be directed from our website to another external website, which SOIL FOODWEB has no control over and assumes no responsibility for the content, privacy policies, practices, or services.  Your use of any external website is not governed by this privacy policy.

Children’s Privacy:

SOIL FOODWEB does not knowingly solicit, collect, or retain information from any individuals who are under fourteen (14) years of age.  If we learn that we have obtained personal information of a child under 14, we will take steps to delete the information as soon as possible.

How We Secure Your Information:

To prevent unauthorized access to your personal information, maintain data accuracy, and ensure the correct use of such information, SOIL FOODWEB has put in place physical, electronic, and managerial procedures as well as encryption and transaction security software to attempt to safeguard and secure the information SOIL FOODWEB obtains from this website.  However, no safeguards or security procedures or software is completely effective, and we do not guarantee the absolute security of any information provided to SOIL FOODWEB through use of our website.

Attending Webinars

Soil Foodweb School LLC occasionally creates live webinars for either promotional or educational purposes, or other. Should you choose to attend such a webinar, your voice and/or image may be recorded during the course of the webinar. Soil Foodweb School LLC retains the right to publish the recording of the webinar on its website (soilfoodweb.com) and elsewhere. By attending the webinar, you are agreeing to this.

Policy Revisions:

SOIL FOODWEB reserves the right to revise this Privacy Policy from time to time in our discretion.  If SOIL FOODWEB makes modifications, SOIL FOODWEB will post the revised Privacy Policy on the website, which will take effect immediately upon posting. It is your responsibility to periodically review this Privacy Policy.

Contact Address:
PO Box 287
Corvallis, OR 97330

Our Privacy Policy
Read our Privacy Policy.
Provided that you are eligible to use the Site, you are granted a limited license to access and use the Site and to download or print a copy of any portion of the Content to which you have properly gained access solely for your personal, non-commercial use. We reserve all rights not expressly granted to you in and to the Site, the Content and the Marks.


USER REPRESENTATIONS

You may be required to register with the Site. You agree to keep your password confidential and will be responsible for all use of your account and password. We reserve the right to remove, reclaim, or change a username you select if we determine, in our sole discretion, that such username is inappropriate, obscene, or otherwise objectionable.
You may not access or use the Site for any purpose other than that for which we make the Site available. The Site may not be used in connection with any commercial endeavors except those that are specifically endorsed or approved by us. 

PRIVACY POLICY

We care about data privacy and security. Please review our Privacy Policy [CLICK HERE]/posted on the Site]. By using the Site, you agree to be bound by our Privacy Policy, which is incorporated into these Terms and Conditions. Please be advised the Site is hosted in the United States. 
If you access the Site from the European Union, Asia, or any other region of the world with laws or other requirements governing personal data collection, use, or disclosure that differ from applicable laws in the United States, then through your continued use of the Site, you are transferring your data to the United States, and you expressly consent to have your data transferred to and processed in the United States. 
[Further, we do not knowingly accept, request, or solicit information from children or knowingly market to children. Therefore, in accordance with the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, if we receive actual knowledge that anyone under the age of 13 has provided personal information to us without the requisite and verifiable parental consent, we will delete that information from the Site as quickly as is reasonably practical.]
Our Terms & Conditions