Scale Free Network’s Briony Barr and Gregory Crocetti, along with illustrator Aviva Reed and writer Ailsa Wild, are currently developing two new books in the Small Friends Books series – bringing to life the hidden biodiversity within soil.

We will take readers on a journey into this spectacular underworld to convey the importance of soil microbes to the health and resilience of our soil and our biosphere.

  • Nema and the Xenos: A story of soil cycles will be a delightfully gothic tale that explores the unique partnerships between plants, nematodes (roundworms) and Xenorhabdus bacteria (‘Xenos’). This title is due to be released (co-published with CSIRO Publishing) in August 2019.
  • The Forest in the Tree will describe the interconnected relationships between plants, mycorrhizal fungi and bacteria, inspired by the ‘Wood Wide Web’ – the underground, fungal ‘internet’. This title is due to be released (co-published with CSIRO Publishing) in April 2020.

These scientifically accurate soil stories will join the dots for readers both young and old about the importance of organic agricultural systems.

  • Nema and the Xenos will highlight one of the many natural biological control processes that plants and other microbes use to naturally maintain a healthy balance of soil diversity – which is often devastatingly disrupted by the use of pesticides.
  • The Forest in the Tree will illustrate the networks of communication and nutrients between plants and the communities of bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi living around their roots – and how this language is broken by the use of synthetic fertilisers and tilling.

Special thanks to the Australian Society for Microbiology for their financial support in developing these stories!

Thank-you also to our recent Australian Cultural Fund crowdfunding supporters: Ecogrow Pty Ltd, Raymond Akhurst, Robin Bedding, Lynette Payne, Nicky Grigg, Patrick Belford, Tara Kuckreja, Heather Maughan, Jeremy Barr, Fran Murrell, Dennis Stanton, Anna Wilkinson, Aldyth Love, Veronica Radice, Elizabeth and Rob La Nauze, Merry Youle and Dale Hess.