New PHISH Organization promotes soil health

A new organization has cropped up, called PHISH (People Helping Improve Soil Health). PHISH promotes soil health in its communities and neighboring counties. These communities come from PHISH’s six affiliated counties of Vigo, Sullivan, Clay, Greene, Putnam, and Morgan. Leading the efforts is Paul Pendergast based out of the Vigo County Soil and Water Conservation District office.

PHISH was formed in 2020 and funded through a grant. PHISH does most of its work through site visits and handing out informational flyers and brochures at events. By the beginning of 2022, PHISH had already done more than 40 site visits. These visits are initiated by property owners and are typically performed for small and urban farmers. However, PHISH is still able and willing to work with non-farming citizens who have small gardens in their backyard or other soil concerns. Site visits depend on the owner's needs but usually include soil sampling. PHISH offers two free samples per site per person and can typically produce a nutrient management plan for an area within one to two weeks, depending on the lab.

As for the educational side of PHISH, Pendergast explained various workshops in the past and their plans for additional ones in the future. In the past, PHISH has worked with Indiana State University to utilize their community gardens and educate participants on various soil health topics such as composting, cover crops, and soil microbials. They plan on scheduling similar workshops in the future. Besides workshops, PHISH also makes themselves available at local farmers' markets to connect with citizens who could potentially benefit from their services.

The services offered by PHISH are at the discretion of each individual. However, Pendergast pointed out that no garden was too small, and nearly every garden could benefit from a few minor changes. With the start of the growing season, now is the perfect time to reach out. You can contact PHISH by calling Pendergast at the Vigo County SWCD office at (812)-232-0193 ext. 3 . PHISH is here to serve you.