Excessive use of synthetic fertilisers in monoculture farming create algal blooms, which suffocate rivers, lakes, and seas. CLIMAVORE works with farmers to halt agricultural run-off by using alternative ways to nurture the ground.
Modern fertilisers, far from boosting long-term fertility, waged a war against the soil and the bodies it nourishes. Overuse of synthetic fertilisers in agriculture has been linked with landslides, soil collapse, and conditions including diabetes and gluten intolerance in the human population. Additionally, the compounds that go into the production of fertilisers are often mined, compromising territories for the sake of boosting industrialised food production. In places like Western Sahara, home to approximately 70% of the world's phosphate reserves, land is claimed by vying nations in militarised competition for fertiliser resources.
Many of these substances end up in water bodies worldwide. One of them is Lake Erie, which regularly suffers from hypoxia—lack of oxygen—created by fertiliser runoff that suffocates many of its underwater species, threatening the health of the entire ecosystem. And yet, Lake Erie’s long history of environmental activism, which led to the first Clean Water Act in the US in 1972 and the granting of nonhuman personhood to the lake in 2019, is a unique site to imagine new horizons. Looking at Ohio’s environmental futures, CLIMAVORE started the Ground Working Group, a multi-year social initiative in Cleveland to highlight local farmers who regenerate soil, eliminate chemical fertiliser, support crop rotation, cultivate ecological buffer zones and polyculture diversity, and through this, improve the quality of the Lake Erie watershed.
CLIMAVORE initiated the process by installing a public fountain on the lake to acknowledge and celebrate the efforts of an initial cohort of Ohio farmers working to remove chemical fertiliser from their farms. We are used to seeing statues and monuments to figures who have made their wealth through extractive practices. In contrast, this process highlights people and practices contributing to the local ecosystem’s health.