{ retracing }

 

I like to think of soil as a binding connector to each place on earth. A grounding force that is soft to our feet and that provides a fertile environment in which we can grow food and survive. In the evolution of human history precisely the introduction of the first seeds of barley and wheat, and the knowledge of placing them in soil, is what revolutionized us from hunters to farmers. This allowed us to live more steadfast rather than as nomadic people. However, in a resilient place like St.Kilda the way of survival was through hunting birds. It appears through analysis that toxic chemicals in the soil at St.Kilda remain at high levels which affect the fertility of the land; the carcasses of seabirds end up on the ground and contain a high level of toxic metals in their organs. The high amount of salt spray from the ocean that comes from modern marine pollutants is an additional cause.

All protection of plants comes from microbial activity in the soil, once a plant is healthy there’s a strong microbial activity and better metabolism preventing parasites to take hostage. A thriving soil is dependent on natural balances and biodiversity. The inhospitable essence of St.Kilda´s soil reflects its topographical environment. Through soil we can read how the landscape is treated–if it is thriving or lacking in nutrients, for example. We can address existing agricultural traits and previous states of interference.

In turn I am led to reflect on the site of Diso, Puglia, in which we will centralize our project. I like to think of an ephemeral soil journey between the places of St.Kilda to that of Diso, Puglia. Because Diso used to be a tobacco farmland, I am left curious to research what impact that has left on the soil and how the history of the tobacco industry has in turn shaped the inhabitants of this region.

 

Beatrice Alvestad Lopez