Keeper of the Soils

“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”
― Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture

The Keeper of the Soils on Pilgrimage for COP26 en route to North Berwick, Oct 2021


This community created cape, initiated by artist Natalie Taylor along with North Light Arts is for the Keeper of the Soils to wear at celebratory occasions. The Keeper, who may be a different person each time, celebrates Scotland’s rich agricultural and food growing heritage by receiving gifted soil samples from growing areas across East Lothian and the Central Belt, and keeping them safe inside the cape’s many internal pockets. The pockets are being made with the people of Dunbar during workshop sessions led by Natalie.

See updates about the creation of the cape on the fellowship blog.

This cape was first worn on the eve of the Pilgrimage for COP26, at a collaborative celebration event on the 17th October in Dunbar  organised by NLA, Sustaining Dunbar and John Muirs Birthplace. During the event there was a special soil ceremony, at the Battery in Dunbar Harbour, were the first four donated soils were added to the cape.

Since then over 20 soils from East Lothian, Central Belt and further afield have been collected.

The soils will continue to be part of the the Is Soil Alive project over the enxt 10 months leading up to the International Soil Congress in Auguts 2022 happening in Glasgow.

For more information about any aspects of this project please contact.