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Like elements of soil, we are all interconnected

If you ever want to wander – and then tumble and roll – into a rabbit hole of internet intricacies, search for “soil food web.”

You will get the token Wikipedia description, some research-based university pages (highly recommended!) and then a slew of videos of people professing how they can improve your soil food web for only $169!

But if you want to skip all of that, here is a (really) brief synopsis: The soil food web is a complex and interdependent living system, made up of a multitude of organisms (everything from organic matter, bacteria and fungi to insects), and it acts as the base of interactions with plants, animals and the environment as a whole.


So really, as a mammal, I am dependent on this cycling of carbon and nutrients by a little ol’ protozoa or nematode that feeds off the organic matter that is slowly created by plants sloughing off roots and shoots? Of course there are thousands of videos on the internet – it is a mind-blowing idea.

Really though, it sounds a lot like what we hope to do as community – take care of each other, do our part, help where we can and create an environment that is healthy, safe and occasionally happy.

When the fire broke out just west of Durango a couple of weeks ago, it was the culmination of an awful day. The story about the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde was just unfolding, and here locally we were all dealing with the tragic car crash that killed a member of a farming family. It was an overwhelming day that ended with me frantically calling my wife to make sure that neither she nor the kids were up hiking or biking in the Overend Mountain Park.

I lost it. I got scared because I had enough.

Back in 2012, I wrote a column after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and I ended it by writing “hug your kids (or your friend or neighbor’s kids, who cares) and tell them you love them.” While I will never stop hugging my kids, I never thought that I would be writing it again when it comes to a tragedy at a school, where 19 kids and two teachers were fatally shot.

And no, this is not an article about gun safety; however, it is a reminder that we have a whole hell of a lot of teachers here in La Plata County and my wife is one of them – a really, really good one at that. To think that she, or any of our four kids, would have the thought of “what if” as they walk into one of our schools is overwhelming.

That night, as I was writing up a synopsis of all the things volunteers can do to help our farming family – the Rohwers – I realized why community is so incredibly important in times like these. We have neighbors helping neighbors when it comes to a potential evacuation; we have parents coming up to teachers and reminding them that what they do is so vitally important; and we have volunteers who are giving up a day to go pull thistles. And it took my buddy, Tom Bartels (aka, the other Garden Guy), to correlate that to what happens every day, in the soil we walk on, dig in and grow food out of.

We are all interconnected and interdependent on each other, and we cannot forget that.

Darrin Parmenter is the director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office. Reach him at darrin.parmenter@co.laplata.co.us or 382-6464.