Soil Care in Market Gardening in Luxembourg

This research is centred around the concept of soil care in community-supported small-scale market gardening. The two gardens in Luxembourg where the e fieldwork was conducted take a no-dig approach to regenerating soil health.

Based on prolonged ethnographic engagements Michiel starts the thesis from the daily practice of soil care to sketch its process-relationality. Gardening with soil for two growing seasons has allowed him to internalise the logic of soil care and see its multiplicity and challenges. Next, he explores what lessons these human-nonhuman relations have for care theory. For example, nonhumans cannot respond verbally to the care given, which has implications for the responsibilities we take. In other words, how does caring with soil work in practice?

In the next chapter Michiel elaborates on the affective dimension of soil care. Being immersed in the gardens he has been able to feel the life regenerating processes. Without knowing precisely what processes occur in the soil, there is a strong sense that no-dig gardening is creating the conditions for life to flourish.

Lastly, these gardens do not exist in isolation. Particularly the issue of land (high prices, insecure tenure contracts, etc.) is a pressing one. In this last chapter of the thesis Michiel zooms out to see soil care in the wider context of land (un)availability. By looking at land relations he hopes to learn about how the direct practice of immediate soil care is fostered or hindered by the wider care relations.

The thesis combines the issues and arguments that research participants make relevant in combination with is theoretically novel contributions to care theory. Throughout the thesis he aims to write creative non-fiction to engage readers affectively in the soil-centred stories. These stories serve to analyse the novel engagements of market gardeners with their soil to hopefully inspire eco-positive mindset shifts for transformative change.

Michiel works together with the GEOS project. If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact him (