International Year of Soils Educational Programs 2015

Celebrating the “International Year of Soils”!

International Year of Soils

The United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization has declared 2015 the “International Year of Soils”. Healthy soil is at the root of all life. It provides us with the food we eat, the fibers that make our clothing, and the fuel that runs our economy. It cleans our water and sequesters carbon, keeping it out of the atmosphere. The Ocean County Soil Conservation District is dedicated to promoting awareness of this finite resource. Join us for an educational and fun hands-on program as we explore the many roles of healthy soil in our lives. A new topic will be explored each month. Programs are located at Jakes Branch County Park, **unless otherwise noted (ie: November program). Pre-registration is requested. Contact Becky Laboy at or call 609-971-7002 ext. 114 for more details.


January 31: “Gardening From the Ground Up”
Soils Sustain Life! In this hands-on workshop we will explore soil from a garden’s point of view, compare different soil types, learn about the importance of pH, meet the organisms that live in soil, and discover why healthy soil is at the root of a healthy garden! Time: 12:00-2:00pm

Be A Friend to Pollinators

February 28: “Gardening for Pollinators”
Soils Support Urban Life! Pollinators such as bees and butterflies are crucial to the vitality of our gardens. They adorn our yards and provide important eco-services to humans. In this program you will discover ways to create backyard habitat that supports these beautiful creatures, starting with healthy soil. Time: 12:30-2:00pm.


March 22: “Soil to Spoon – Healthy Food Gardening on the Jersey Shore”
Soils Sustain Agriculture! Healthy soil produces healthy food. The unique sandy, acidic soils of the Jersey Shore offer gardeners opportunities to produce and harvest local specialties that thrive in these native soil conditions. Learn the needs of your favorite food crops and naturally amend your soil to support their growth.  Time: 12:30-2:00pm

compost time image for flyer

April 18: “Composting”
Soils Recycle! Composting is a great way to turn your garbage into garden! Essential nutrients in your vegetable food scraps, grass clippings and leaves can be recycled back into the soil. In this interactive workshop we will explore composting techniques for the backyard gardener. Time: 2:00-3:30pm Download this flyer to share!

A native plant rain garden is a beautiful way of enhancing your landscape.
A native plant rain garden is a beautiful way of enhancing your landscape.

May 30: “Rain Garden Workshop”
Soils Cycle Water! Rain Gardens are a natural way to beautify your landscape while implementing an environmentally sound solution to stormwater runoff. This workshop will teach you the “how-to’s” of installing a rain garden and offer ideas for appropriate plant selection. Time: 1:00-2:30pm


June 28: “Native Plant Gardening”
Healthy Soils Support Native Plants! Native plants are adapted to the natural soil conditions, climate and wildlife around them. Learn how gardening with native plants can save you time and money, create a beautiful landscape, and attract wildlife to your backyard.Time: 1:00-2:30pm Download this flyer to share!

1Y01-010a Earthworm - in burrow, note castings at surface - Lumbricus terrestris
Earthworm – in burrow, note castings at surface – Lumbricus terrestris

July 18: “How to be a Soil Food Web Gardener”
Healthy Soil is Alive! Healthy soil is at the root of all life on Earth – including the plants in your garden. Enhance your garden’s productivity by becoming a “soil food web gardener”. By understanding the macro and micro-organisms that live in a balanced underground ecosystem in your soil, you can provide them with the optimum conditions they need to thrive. You’ll reap the benefits of healthy, naturally nutrient-rich soil. Time: 10:30-12:00pm


August 30: “Low Maintenance Landscaping”
Healthy Soils Support Healthy Landscapes! The Jersey Shore is a sought-after pace to live, work and play. But our hot summers, cold winters, sandy soils and salt spray can pose many challenges to home gardening and landscaping. This program offers solutions by taking a low-maintenance, eco-friendly approach, and working with the conditions nature offers. Explore and discover ways to landscape your yard and garden with beautiful native plants, water conserving techniques and healthy soil-building strategies. Time: 10:30-12:00pm


September 27: “Gardening with Native New Jersey Soil”
Native Soils Support Native Landscapes! New Jersey Soil is unique! Although sandy, acidic, and nutrient poor, New Jersey soil supports a diversity of plant life. Discover the special adaptations New Jersey’s native plants have to survive in these challenging soil conditions. Explore the possibilities of incorporating these plants into your yard or garden landscape. Time: 10:30-12:00pm

NJ Soil Health Assessment Guide cover page

October 17: “Assessing Your Soil’s Health”
Healthy Soils Support Healthy Gardens and Landscapes! It’s important to have a healthy foundation on which to build your garden. Soil is that foundation – it provides your plants with mineral nutrients, air, water and a place to grow. But, how do you know if your soil is healthy? A “soil health assessment” can provide you with valuable information about the physical, chemical and biological properties of your soil, and offer solutions to common problems such as compaction, erosion, lack of nutrients, and pH that is too acidic or too alkaline. Discover how to assess your own soil, determine its health, and amend your soil to create a healthier garden. Time: 12:00-1:30pm

Web Soil Survey masthead

November 12 “Soils on the Web”
Soils are the Foundation of Our Lives! Do you know the type of soil under your feet? Under your house? Under your town? Knowing the type of soil below, can inform your decisions about what to build or plant above. Soil surveys can be used by gardeners, farmers, and for local area planning. Soil survey information can be used to make informed decisions about gardening and farming practices, home ownership, wetland proximity, and high water table limitations.

In this workshop we will use the internet to show you how to access and use the Web Soil Survey and Google Earth to help you get a better understanding of the soil beneath your feet. Bring your laptop if you have one. This program is presented in partnership with Rob Tunstead, NRCS. **Time: 6:30-8:00pm at the Toms River Library, Green Room, 2nd Floor.

Soil Health Geek

December 12 “Celebrating Soil”
Soil Supports Life on Planet Earth!” Soil is truly the foundation of our lives – the rock that keeps us grounded. Soil supports our food crops, cleans our drinking water, provides a place to live, work and play, and keeps our planet functioning properly through its many systems and cycles. Join the Ocean County Soil Conservation District and guest presenter, Fred C. Schoenagel III, Resource Soil Scientist with NRCS, for a hands-on exploration, discovery and celebration of the gifts of soil. Time: 12:00-2:00pm at Jakes Branch County Park. Download this Flyer to share!

More information about the International Year of Soils, including activities for kids and lesson plans for teachers, can be found on the Soil Science Society of America website.