TERROIR! Is About the Soul and Science of Soil

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TERROIR means “a sense of place.” It is a uniqueness created by the symbiotic relationship between the soil microbiome in a particular place with the plants, animals and events that connect to and interact with that soil. Terroir is the ultimate tool for sustainability and resilience. Harnessing the power of Terroir, we can better understand how to honor the past of a particular place and weave a story of future abundance. Over the course of our two day breakfast-to-cocktails gathering, including two incredible parties for networking and socializing, we will explore 4 storylines woven with the emerging science and ancient magic of soil. You’ll never see soil the same way again.

Sacred Soil – The Lakota People say that soil is “who we used to be.”  When we gathered soil from sacred places, such as lynching sites in Alabama or land that a corporation wants to drill for oil, did we know that the soil microbes recorded the memory of the events that happened in that place?

Choosing Terroir  – As urban dwellers, how connected are we to the purchasing choices we make? The soil microbes of a particular place influence the taste and characteristics of food, fiber, water, medicine, and even human well being.  Perhaps the microbes can influence the human mind to choose terroir and protect and regenerate soil.  The next time you select a wine, cheese, chocolate or coffee, think about how you made your decision – Free Will? or Microbes?

Soil Communication – From Adamah (Hebrew for Earth) comes Adam (Hebrew for man); thus starts one of the oldest stories humans tell of their creation.  How do we communicate our deep connection to soil and how does the soil of a particular place influence everything that it contacts (other microbes, plants, animals, humans, and even the weather.) Can we humans talk the plants into harnessing the power of the soil?

Regenerative Society – How do urban dwellers turn mountains of waste into the spark of life that regenerates an entire society, working on farmland, rangelands, and urban landscapes?  Let’s make a plan to grow soil-centric prosperity in America’s negelected communities through the south, “rust belt.” and beyond.

Speakers and Facilitators for each storyline will be announced in Mid-June, so stay tuned!  Until then, meet our Speakers below, and see if you can guess who will be participating in which track.


Summit Pricing Table

Price Change Dates

Full Summit

Inoculation Party Only

Small Group Day 1

Lunch Only Day 1

Fermentation Party Only Day 1

Plenary Day 2

thru 4/1/17







4/2/17 - 6/10/17







6/11/17 – 7/15/17







7/16/17 – 8/1/17



not available




8/2/17 – 8/7/17



not available





not available

$125 at the door

not available

not available



8/8/17 – 8/9/17

not available

not available

not available

not available

$175 at the door

$625 at the door



Speakers & Facilitators

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Check back frequently, as we update confirmed speakers & look at the Summit Program for more information.

The Urban Soil Summit 2.0 again unites a diverse group of leading thinkers, scientists, engineers, policy makers, architects, planners, designers, and concerned individuals in an energetic exchange about the science and actions necessary to create Soil Security, a fundamental building block of human resilience. Over two days, our dialogue will enlighten, inspire, amaze and motivate attending urban dwellers to connect with each other and take action in their own lives to nurture the soil beneath their feet.

Summit Program

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Urban Soil Summit 2.0 Program is subject to change without notice. Stay tuned to this website to see speaker, facilitator, topic and venue updates.

6:00pm – 8:30pm Inoculation Party
Yummy libations and hors d’oeuvres with a soil theme.
Meet the speakers and other conference attendees in a relaxed setting before the start of the Summit.
Venue TBD

Day One: The Deep Dive Into TERROIR! Without Terror

Today we spend time diving into two of the FOUR DISCUSSION TRACKS highlighted below. Each Track is curated around a topic related to Soil and features 4-8 speakers, 4 facilitators and you, the audience. When they become available in June 2017, you are encouraged to download the pre-conference background materials for your two selected tracks; these materials are included in the cost of your ticket, but are only available online. Hardcopies will not be available for purchase.

You also are encouraged to purchase books by several of our speakers. In June 2017 these books will be available for pre-purchase on this website and pick up at the Summit.

Each Attendee must pre-select two Discussion Tracks – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Watch for an email in June 2017 when you will be asked to make your selections.

Track One – OUR SOIL & CIVILIZATION: Sacred Soil and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations

We delve into the nexus of social and environmental justice, discuss what the soil record tells us about the resilience of various civilizations throughout time, and explore why soil is sacred and how those who protect and steward it can evolve into sacred beings.

Track Two – OUR DEEP CONNECTION TO SOIL (CHOOSING TERROIR): The Sense of Place of Everyday Things

We explore the food, objects, water and medicine that derive their unique properties from the microbes in soil and reveal the relationship of those microbes with those inside our bodies.

Track Three – OUR COMMUNICATION ABOUT SOIL: Signs, Symbols and Behaviors Used by Soil to Communicate

We dig into how microbes communicate with each other, with plants, and with humans, and what strategies can we devise to share the story of healthy living soil with a wider audience?

Track Four – OUR COLLABORATION TO HEAL SOIL: Research, Economic Models, Practices to Turn Terror Into Terroir

We learn about research and practices that are being utilized across the globe to better understand how to grow living soil, the skills people need to steward it, and strategies for tapping into the bright money (as opposed to dark money) that is necessary to build a new regenerative economy.

7:00am – 8:30am Registration and Breakfast at the UCLA Luskin Conference Center’s Plateia Restaurant
8:30am – 8:45am Orientation, Acknowledgements, Welcome to TERROIR!

Pamela Berstler, CEO of Green Gardens Group

9:00am – 10:30am The Morning Sessions
10:30am – 10:45am Morning Coffee Break
10:45am – 12:15pm The Morning Sessions Continue
12:15pm – 1:00pm Community Lunch Served at Plateia Restaurant
1:00pm – 1:45pm Lunch Keynote Conversation at Plateia Restaurant
2:00pm – 3:30pm The Afternoon Sessions
3:30pm – 3:45pm Afternoon Tea Break
3:45pm – 5:00pm The Afternoon Sessions Continue
5:00pm – 5:30pm The Day One Wrap Up

Pamela Berstler, CEO of Green Gardens Group

6:00pm – 9:00 pm Fermentation Celebration
No rest for the mycorrhizae! Now is the time for big ideas to brew over bubbly conversation with your new Summit friends. We will travel to a secret getaway where we ply you with great food and beverage.   You supply the ideas and the fizz.
Venue TBD

Day Two: Weaving Together A Soil Story of Resilience and Hope

Toady we spend time weaving together the threads of each of the deep dive conversations we explored on Day One to arrive at some conclusions about how best to create more resilient cities and bring hope to the people we encounter that terror about climate change WILL NOT prevail.

Each of today’s four 90 minute sessions re-imagines our discussion from Day One by bringing together one or two speakers from each of the tracks and encouraging attendees to participate with experiences and questions. The take away is that even though we spent a day divided into different tracks, TERROIR! will always unite us once again.

7:00am – 8:30am Registration and Breakfast at the UCLA Luskin Conference Center’s Plateia Restaurant
8:30am – 8:35am We Follow the Beat of A Different Drummer
8:35am – 8:45am Plenary Introduction, Acknowledgements, Welcome

Pamela Berstler, CEO of Green Gardens Group


When we think about terroir, we naturally think about wine, cheese, coffee, medicine, and other every-day products that not only require soil, but also possess different qualities based on where and how they are produced.

If we knew that our human health and many of our human emotions were derived from soil microbes, how would that change our perception of its importance?

If we understood that soil and plants interact at a deep level to determine the quality of life for the plant and that plants and water are utterly dependent upon a complex interaction with the soil in a particular place, what would we change about our lives to come in more contact with healthy living soil?

10:30am – 10:45am Morning Coffee Break
10:45am – 12:15pm Panel Two: OUR SACRED SOIL

The Lakota People believe that soil is “who we used to be.” If we understood that soil has memory of people, plants, animals, and events, how would it change the way we farm our land, build our cities, and design our landscapes?

Who are the people we engage to work with the soil and how do we honor them in our daily lives?

If history shows us civilizations that did not protect their soil ultimately perished, what actions must we take NOW to reverse soil degradation and save it from policies that will not preserve it? What is the fate of our civilization from continued soil desecration and climate change?

12:15pm – 1:00pm Community Luncheon
1:15pm – 2:45pm Panel Three: THE SOIL STORIES WE TELL

One of the oldest stories humankind tells is that Adam (Hebrew for “man”) is from Adamah (Hebrew for “earth”). What are some of the other soil stories we need to share with the world at this time to combat terror?

How does living soil fit into the story of “organic,” “healthy,” “clean,” or “beautiful?” Do we need to change our stories?

What has motivated storytellers to share the message of the value of healthy living soil? What tools do we need to convince others that soil is the solution and that engineers can “trust” it?

2:45pm – 3:15pm Afternoon Tea Break
3:15pm – 4:45pm Panel Four: A SOIL ECONOMY

What are some of the most compelling economic models for climate-smart agriculture, watershed wise landscapes, and healthy living rangelands?

How do we bring social and environmental justice into alignment and build life-long careers (not just jobs) for people who want to rebuild their communities with soil-centric businesses?

What are some of the challenges we must overcome as a community in order to move forward obvious solutions such as locally sourced compost, native plant production and others?

4:45pm – 5:00pm The RAFFLE!!!
5:00pm – 5:30pm The Day Two Wrap Up, Thank You and A Call to Action!

Pamela Berstler, CEO of G3, Green Gardens Group

6:00pm Informal cocktails at the bar – all are welcome for a no-host cocktail hour to decompress, wait out notorious Los Angeles traffic, make final collaboration plans and celebrate the close of Soil Summit 2.0

Specific Venue TBD


Become A Sponsor

Thank you to our amazing sponsors for their financial support and participation in this dialogue.  They make it possible for us to bring you the best speakers, food, and venue.  If you are interested in becoming an Urban Soil Summit 2.0 Sponsor at any level, click the box here to learn more.

Soil Summit Venue – UCLA Luskin Conference Center

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Every element of the UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center and its adjoining hotel was designed to honor the intrinsic link between innovation and rejuvenation. A LEED Gold-certified property enhanced by leading edge resources, the UCLA Luskin Conference Center’s bright and relaxing environment encourages open engagement. Here, leading academic minds, medical innovators, researchers, political leaders and social visionaries meet to build relationships, exchange ideas, and make breakthroughs possible to move our world forward.  In other words, it is the PERFECT venue for the Urban Soil Summit 2017.

Plateia, a full-service Mediterranean-inspired, California-fresh restaurant and lounge, will be providing breakfast, lunch, and breakouts throughout both of the Summit days.  The restaurant is dedicated to providing Summit attendees with the most local, organic cuisine, and provides daily gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan, and pescatarian meal alternatives.

The Inoculation Party

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Make sure you are in town the evening before the Summit begins in order to enjoy the Inoculation Party and Sneak Peek Opening Celebration.   Mingle with the speakers, sponsors, partners and friends who helped make the dream of this Summit a reality. Your Full Conference Ticket includes access to both the Inoculation and the Fermentation parties. If you can’t join us for the whole Summit, individual tickets for the Inoculation Party are available.

At the Inoculation Party, libations and hors d’oeuvres are served, of course with a soil theme!

The Fermentation Celebration

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Day One is complete and the big ideas are brewing.  Time for a Fermentation Celebration! Your Full Conference Ticket includes access to both the Inoculation and the Fermentation parties. If you can’t join us for the whole Summit, individual tickets for the Fermentation Celebration are available.

The Fermentation Celebration fosters bubbly conversation with your new Summit friends. We supply the food and beverage.  You supply the fizz. 

Soil Summit Hotel Accommodations

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Urban Soil Summit 2.0 attendees have access to an exclusive block of rooms at the UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center in the heart of the UCLA campus using the Code: 170708GG.  King bed and two queen bed rooms will be available. The entire Center is a non-smoking environment. These luxurious accommodations include the conference center gym; a $10 upgrade gets you a pass to the world renowned John R. Wooden Recreation and  Sports Center where you are sure to spot some seriously fit and highly recognizable Los Angelenos. The pool is fabulous!

Call 855-LCC-UCLA (855-522-8252) to book a reservation via phone. Or follow this online reservation link: http://luskinconferencecenter.ucla.edu/reserve/

Select ‘I have a Conference Code’ submit and check for availability. Fill out the quick search fields and Enter the conference code: 170708GG and then select check availability and follow prompts from there.

If you are a federal or state employee, there are special rates available, but you will need to call 855-522-8252 and ask to speak with a representative of the hotel for more information.

Conference Center hotel accommodations at $259/night are all-inclusive (taxes and LA hotel fee included.)  Oh, except for parking…parking is expensive in Westwood.  We will be encouraging you to carpool, use ride share services, or avail yourself of the shiny, brand spanking new Los Angeles public transport system which will whisk you right to the UCLA campus hub, brief walking distance to the Conference Center.

Parking is available on campus. Self-Parking is in UCLA Parking Structure 8, on Level 4 for $12 per day. Overnight self-parking is $28 per day.  Valet Assit Parking at the Conference Center is $28 for parking stays between three and ten hours and $39 for overnight.

Looking for a Roommate for the Summit?  Check out the Urban Soil Summit Facebook page discussion board, and indicate your desire to share a room and any preferences you may have.

When you register for your Summit tickets, be sure to select the box “YES” on the accommodations question. We will send you an email with all of the details about securing a room.

Welcome to Los Angeles

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Los Angeles, City of Angels, and sixteenth largest economy in the world, welcomes you to explore everything our vibrant and diverse city has to offer.  Since we’re talking about the natural world, make sure to head EAST and visit Griffith Park, the larger, more untamed, and rugged counterpoint to that other great urban park, New York City’s Central Park. You will begin to appreciate how unique are our chaparral ecosystems and how vulnerable they are to climate change. Or, venture WEST to the Venice Beach and begin to appreciate the fragility of the tidal ecosystem and its vulnerability to urban soil degradation in the form of urban runoff.

2015: Soil In The City

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