Soil Health Champions

New Mexico Healthy Soil in cooperation with the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) is building a statewide network of Soil Health Champions and affiliates. Over one hundred ranchers, farmers, land owners and educators have already joined this growing association of peers.

In partnership with the Seeding Regenerative Agriculture project we are coordinating field days and loosely structured peer support groups for farmers and ranchers, called Seed Groups. The goal is to create communities of practice for regenerative agriculture across New Mexico. We come together for knowledge sharing, hands-on learning and socializing over a locally sourced meal. While many field day hosts and Seed Group members are also Soil Health Champions, this is not a requirement.

Map of NACD’s national Soil Health Champion Network as of January 2023

The National Soil Health Champions Network

NACD created the Soil Health Champions program to identify advocates for soil health across the United States and its territories. “Champion” is intended to emphasize advocacy and continuing curiosity about soil health more than mastery.

Each Champion is associated with their conservation district through an informal agreement. In support of the national network, NACD holds educational conference calls, provides technical and promotional resources, and offers scholarships to Champions to attend topical meetings. In return, Champions receive membership in an exclusive network, a quarterly soil health bulletin, and national recognition for their work in soil health in NACD publications.

Champions only have a few responsibilities: practicing soil health principles, outreach in their communities and occasionally sharing their activities with NACD.

“Championing” soil health can take many forms, for example (virtual) farm tours, coffee shop meet-ups, workshops, kids programs, neighborhood meetings, sharing online or at farmers market that you are a soil health advocate—and of course hosting one of our field days! NM Healthy Soil and the Seeding Regenerative Agriculture project are happy to support with logistics help and funding.

Reach out through the application form below if you are interested in becoming a Soil Health Champion and/or have an idea for a field day.

Some of New Mexico’s Soil Health Champions

New Mexico’s Statewide Network

In New Mexico, NM Healthy Soil is working to grow and support a statewide Soil Health Champions Network. We’re hosting the NM Soil Stewards Facebook group, as well as meetups and webinars for Champions and others. Champions often share their soil health journey on the NM Healthy Soil Blog: you can read their stories here.

In partnership with the Seeding Regenerative Agriculture Project, we hold frequent field days at member farms and ranches—mostly during spring, summer and fall. We come together for peer-to-peer networking, knowledge sharing and hands-on learning. These gatherings always involve a shared, locally sourced meal. Find upcoming field days here.

Field days are like barn-raisings: the host farmer or rancher (often a Soil Health Champion, although this is not a requirement) shares about an on-farm project to improve soil health or implement a regenerative agricultural practice that they have gotten to work fairly well. Often this is a project that benefits from some extra hands to get accomplished. Field day participants then get to work, learning by doing, with the guidance of the host and maybe some project partners.

The topic possibilities for field days are practically endless: earth contouring for passive rainwater harvest; building rock dams to prevent erosion; pasture design and fencing for high-intensity, low-frequency grazing; sheet mulching a community garden; making biochar; installing hedgerows for pollinator habitat; buidling and filling Johnson-Su bioreactors; inoculating and seeding cover crops—anything potentially hands-on that advances soil health and regenerative agriculture.

Our desired future includes both a thriving human community and a healthy ecosystem. The Soil Health Champions Network provides an opportunity for learning and sharing insights with your local community while being connected to the larger soil health movement. Join us!

Our partners: