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Soil Science Society of America
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Contact: Susan V. Fisk, Public Relations Director, 608-273-8091,

Pilgrims and soil: what’s the connection?

Harvest truly cause for celebration

Nov. 15, 2016 –  Imagine arriving in a new land only to discover your food supply plans have fallen through. Our modern Thanksgiving celebration, often sourced from grocers and accessorized with store-bought decor, is missing these “dirty” details. The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) November 15 Soils Matter blog post explains farming challenges the Pilgrims faced, and their survival thanks to help from the Wampanoag Native Americans.

Colorful varieties of maizeThe early immigrants found unfamiliar conditions in their new setting:

  • They had few farming skills;
  • The soil was shallow, sandy, and stony;
  • They did not have draft animals to help cultivate the soil;
  • The soils were quick to dry out, had few nutrients, and little organic matter.

“For those first Pilgrims, getting to that bountiful harvest was a huge feat,” says blog author Tom Sauer, USDA-ARS. “They wisely accepted the guidance of the Wampanoag…to supplement their lack of knowledge and skills in vegetable and crop production.”

To read the entire blog post, visit

Follow SSSA on Facebook at, Twitter at SSSA_Soils. SSSA has soils information on, for teachers at, and for students through 12th grade,

The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) is a progressive, international scientific society that fosters the transfer of knowledge and practices to sustain global soils. Based in Madison, WI, SSSA is the professional home for 6,000+ members dedicated to advancing the field of soil science. It provides information about soils in relation to crop production, environmental quality, ecosystem sustainability, bioremediation, waste management, recycling, and wise land use.

SSSA supports its members by providing quality research-based publications, educational programs, certifications, and science policy initiatives via a Washington, DC, office. Founded in 1936, SSSA proudly celebrated its 75th Anniversary in 2011. For more information, visit or follow @SSSA_soils on Twitter.