DuPage County Farm Bureau

Light of the Soil

Light of the Soil and Paw Paw Industries began with a pair of local grandfathers, Marty Rogers and Jay Kinser, united by their beloved grandchild, Mikayla, their community ties, and a determination to make a difference. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Marty found himself facing the harsh reality of having his business shut down. However, he was determined to adapt and find a sustainable venture that created something meaningful for his local community. It was during a simple time of tending to his compost pile with his granddaughter that inspiration struck. Mikayla picked up a handful of vermicompost and exclaimed “Paw Paw! I see light”. In this profound moment, Marty explained the significance of the vibrant life within a handful of soil. It was then that Light of the Soil, LLC and Paw Paw Industries were born with a mission to shed light on the importance of sustainable practices and soil health within their community.

Soil health is not only important to farmers and those who work within agriculture, but to everyone in our community. Marty explains, “Healthy soil is essential for sustainability on several levels because it plays a critical role in supporting various ecological, agricultural, and environmental functions. Healthy soil supports agriculture by reducing the need for chemical inputs, enhancing crop yields, and supporting nutrient cycling for plants. It conserves water, prevents erosion, mitigates climate change by capturing CO2 from the atmosphere, preserves biodiversity, and enhances ecosystem services. Protecting and improving soil heath is a critical aspect of sustainable land management and ensuring a more resilient and prosperous future for our planet.”

Today, Light of the Soil, LLC specializes in offering premium vermicompost and related products designed to enrich soil health and boot plant vitality through natural, organic means. Additionally, they provide consultation and training services on sustainable agriculture practices, emphasizing waste reduction and the benefits of vermicomposting for both large and small-scale gardeners and growers. Light of the Soil, LLC also provides educational opportunities including workshops, seminars, and hands-on training to empower individuals and communities to implement eco-friendly practices in their gardening.

“In the agriculture community we have seen a shift in the understanding of soil health” says Marty. Today soil is seen as a critical living ecosystem that requires careful management and preservation as opposed to a mere commodity. Farmers and gardeners must balance productivity with the preservation of soil health for future generations.”

This can be achieved by fostering a healthy soil microbiome by minimizing the use of pesticides, using organic matter, and promoting beneficial microorganisms through microbial inoculants such as worm castings and compost teas. Worm castings, also known as vermicompost, are the nutrient-rich excrement produced by earthworms as they digest organic matter. Worm castings are highly beneficial for soil health because they are rich in beneficial bacteria and fungi which suppress harmful pathogens. They also contain essential plant nutrients, improve soil structure, and add organic matter to the soil. Compost teas are liquid extracts made from steeping compost in water and aerating the mixture to promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms. Both worm castings and teas can be valuable tools for gardeners and farmers looking to enhance soil health and plant growth organically.

Marty and Jay would like to invite all DCFB members to engage with Light of the Soil, LLC and their mission by participating in their workshops and training programs. These events focus on sustainable practices in vermicomposting, organic gardening, and soil health. Light of the Soil, LLC is accepting donations for expired canned and dry goods to feed their growing population of compost worms. You can also serve as community ambassador by sharing knowledge and experiences of vermicomposting and help broaden the impact of Light of the Soil’s mission.

“What started as a small project, driven by a desire to capture the joy and curiosity of Mikaya’s experience, quickly grew into a massive labor of love” says Marty. “The mission of promoting sustainable practices through vermicomposting and organic gardening, coupled with the aspiration to make a lasting impact on our community turned Light of the Soil, LLC and Paw Paw Industries into more than just companies. They became a testament to the power of shared passion and vision, transforming our initial excitement into a collective endeavor that continues to inspire and engage people of all ages.”

More information can be found at lightofthesoil.com and pawpawindustries.com.