Secrets of the Soil With Annie Novak - Atlas Obscura Experiences
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Secrets of the Soil With Annie Novak

$75 per device Online Experience
4 sessions
See Dates
$75 per device
$75 per person
See Dates
What We’ll Do

In this four-part lecture series, we’ll dig into the composition, ecology, health, and restoration of soils.

Course Description

In a handful of soil, there are more individual microbes than there are humans on Earth or visible stars in the sky. The complexity of the world beneath our feet isn’t immediately evident to most of us—unless we know how to look for it. Join Annie Novak for a re-introduction to soil, not as just the stuff beneath us, but as an ecological archive, a dynamic habitat, and a force that quietly shapes the world around us.

There are a dozen recognized categories of soil in the U.S. alone, from the iron-streaked rainbow spodosols of hardwood forests to the soft mollisols of the great open prairie. Wherever you may be, identifying the composition of soils tells a story of the landscape: what plants will grow, which animals will thrive, or how well the foundation of a building will stand over time. Over the course of four sessions, we’ll cover soil identification, composition, and ecology, learning hands-on skills to understand, interact with, check in on, and care for the soils around you.

Syllabus at a Glance

There are four total sessions included in this purchase, each lasting for 1.5 hours on 4 consecutive Thursdays beginning March 25.

Session 1 (Thursday, 3/25, 6:30-8 PM ET): Soil composition: What are soils made from and why does it matter? 

Session 2 (Thursday, 4/1, 6:30-8 PM ET): Soil ecology: Who’s doing what in soils?

Session 3 (Thursday, 4/8, 6:30-8 PM ET): Soil improvement: Amending the composition and ecology of your soil

Session 4 (Thursday, 4/15, 6:30-8 PM ET): Soil skills: Summary and review

Between Sessions

While there won’t be any required assignments, students will be encouraged to engage with course material (in other words, play in the dirt!) outside of class, from soil tests to optional readings.  

Atlas Obscura Online Courses

Our online courses offer opportunities for participants to emerge with new skills, knowledge, connections, and perspectives through multi-session classes designed and taught by expert instructors. Courses can take one of two forms: Seminars are intimate, interactive classes—capped at nine to 25 students—exploring topics and crafts through discussion, workshops, assignments, and in-class activities. We also offer lecture series that can be attended live, or viewed via a recording that will be shared within 72 hours after each session airs. Class recordings for lecture series will be available with a temporary password for up to two weeks following the final session of the course.

To learn more about our current course offerings, please visit

For answers to commonly asked questions, check out our FAQ page here.

Where We’ll Be

Once registered, you’ll receive a confirmation email from Eventbrite that will provide access to each class meeting. Please save the confirmation email as you’ll use it to access your course via Zoom on each scheduled date and time.

About Your Instructor
Annie Novak
Annie Novak

Annie Novak is founder and director of Growing Chefs, field-to-fork food education program; the Manager of the Edible Academy at the New York Botanical Garden, and co-founder and farmer of Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Greenpoint, Brooklyn in partnership with Goode Green and Broadway Stages. She is the author of The Rooftop Growing Guide: How to Transform Your Roof into a Garden or Farm, published by Ten Speed Press. 

A passionate educator, Annie teaches locally & nationally, and has spoken at conferences around the country on the connections between people, food and ecology, and the benefits of urban agriculture.

What Else You Should Know

This lecture series is designed so students can participate live or watch a recording after each session airs. Sessions will take place live over Zoom, with dedicated Q&A segments for students to ask questions via video or chat. Within 72 hours after each session airs, we will email all enrolled students a recording of the session, which they can watch using a temporary password for up to two weeks after the course concludes.

In most cases, instructors will use Google Classroom to communicate with students outside of class. While students aren’t required to use Google Classroom, instructors will be using this platform to post resources, discussion questions, and assignments, when applicable.

Who Can Come

This course is best suited for adults and teenagers.

Dates and Availability

There are no upcoming experiences at the moment. Fill out the form below to be notified when we add new dates.

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