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Soil as our common ground: The essential is invisible to the eyes

Updated: Oct 2, 2023 Naturkongress 2023: Sustainable food systems for more biodiversity - from the field to the plate / 29.08.2023, Eventfabrik Bern, CH
Deep Dive Session: Soil as our common ground - the essential is invisible to the eyes
As part of the Swiss Nature Congress 2023, Terrabiom was invited to facilitate an exploratory Deep Dive (D06) in the category "Biodiversity and Agriculture in Art and Culture". We spent an inspiring afternoon with a curious and driven group of participants from civic society, academia, public administration and the economy, exploring and fostering our inner capcities and outer connections.
It was great to touch soil after so much input for my head this morning. I'm feeling inspired and connected. Beat, participant

Soil is the basis of all terrestrial life. It provides us with food, protection from floods and stores CO2. We receive building materials as well as substances for medicines from the earth and may use it for our recreation. One of the most important components of soil are the microorganisms, i.e. bacteria, viruses, beetles, etc., which in a complex interaction provide the basis for the life of plants and entire ecosystems. Without healthy soils and without this multitude of microorganisms, our basis of life would be in danger. But here with us, this is already exactly the case. Globally, 1/3 of all fertile soils are already degraded, in Europe 60 - 70% of soils are classified as unhealthy. In Switzerland, the 3 biggest threats to our soils are: soil sealing, contamination and massive soil erosion.

How might we create a successful transformation away from a food system that exploits our nature and especially our soils to a food system that benefits nature and promotes soil biodiversity?

While many levers are being set in motion to tackle this task, they usually only touch on the technical, political and economic realms. But what needs to happen in people's minds to implement the necessary social change as quickly as possible ?

This was different, and brave. I was not sure what to expect, and I am very glad I participated. Rea, participant

This was the calling question of Terrabiom's explorative Deep Dive. With the help of the Inner Development Goals, the participants were introduced to the importance of the soil through the 4 levels of emotional, rational, somatic and intuitive intelligence. They were able to experience the relationship with the ground and themselves (BEING) and learn interesting facts about the ground (THINKING). Afterwards, they were able to share their experiences, memories and relationship with the ground in a dialogue, as well as build an empathic relationship with their counterpart (RELATING). The workshop was rounded off by the joint creation of an ecosystem map that captured stakeholders involved in soil regeneration at the community, cantonal and national levels (COLLABORATING). At the end of the workshop, we participants had "really arrived on the ground" (Bettina Walch, participant).


The mapping of stakeholders engaged in soil health identified many actors from policy, academia, business, civil society, and the interstitial spaces. It was found that there is much awareness among participants of actors at the national level, but much less awareness of local organizations. The paradox here is that it is at the local level that action and action must take place - following the motto: "think globally - act locally." (UN 1992)

This seems to be one of the biggest challenges we face as a society. As seen throughout the 2023 Nature Congress, the implementation of global, national or regional takes place through concrete actions at the local level. But too often the small actors remain invisible, are not networked, and little is said about them.


  1. In order to move from thinking to acting, it is necessary that we accept the complexity of reality as well as the fact that no:e actor:in can solve today's challenges alone. To design regenerative solutions, we need to re-engage and value our emotional, somatic and intuitive intelligence in addition to our rational intelligence (1/4 of our potential). This can be stimulated through experiences that pick up diverse people on a personal level and at the same time promote an understanding of ecology.

  2. Additionally, we need to refocus more on the invisible: It is impossible to know all the actors, actions, organizations working for soil health. Many of these actors also cannot be clearly placed in man-made categories or in a specific box. That is why it is even more important to establish relationships and make them tangible, so that a large network of knowledge and actions can emerge.

  3. There is already a lot of very good happening on a small scale. These flagship projects and inspiring stories deserve more attention: need to be promoted more, they need to be reported about, and besides their social & ecological added value, their clearly better economic efficiency needs to be emphasized, so that the enactment of framework conditions for the necessary transformation becomes a no-brainer for both politics and economy.

The mycelium metaphor of "connections" translated beautifully to the workshop. Xiaocun, participant

Thank you

For the courage to integrate beyond-rational methods: the steering board. For the invitation: Claudia Stürzinger & Nadine Remmy from ecos, organizer of Naturkongress. For the trust: The courageous group of 13 participants. For the session design & facilitation: Christa Herrmann & Alice Stephan (Terrabiom). For the documentation: Jolanda Jerg (Terrabiom).


Explorative opportunities like this one are an important part of our mission to re:connect humans with the value of nature, starting from the soil up. Curious how this might fit into your world? Please reach out to explore how Terrabiom could support you in putting soil health on your organization and your people’s radar. We love to get creative.

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