About Natalie

2014-08-meflowercrowndriving-2My name is Natalie Ross. I fell into the world of small farms and eating locally produced food in 2005 when I was sent, as a photo intern at the local weekly paper, to photograph the renowned chef of Lantern Restaurant. I had NO IDEA that the world of slow food existed. The idea of a movement dedicated to eating slow, enjoying good company and celebrating the local producers of our vegetables, fruits and meats was completely new to me, and I immediately fell in love. Andrea ended up hiring me for freelance photo jobs, and her intensity and passion for the world of Slow Food left a deep impression on me.

Fast forward to 2015. Through the years my love for food, plants, beautiful places, amazing people, and developing sustainable means of living on the planet converged perfectly for me in the study of soils. I am now a Master’s student studying soil science at NC State University and doing research at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS).

I’m obsessed with soils

I’m obsessed with soils, and I’ve taken up the hobby of helping farmers and gardeners take soil samples to be analyzed at the NC Department of Agriculture. While I’m out there visiting the fields and garden plots I can’t help but be overwhelmed by the extreme beauty of these places where each grower’s caring relationship for the earth they work has turned the land into a slice of paradise. Thus, I shoot pictures. It’s simply not fair to see these places, experience great beauty and NOT SHARE it all with the world!

I’ve always naturally gravitated towards photographing and exploring the farms, gardens, and nature sanctuaries where humans have developed beautiful relationships with the land. What I’m sharing here, on Grow Beautiful, is a compilation of these experiences. As I finish my Master’s I intend to make shooting these places and ever greater part of my life and to share what I see and feel out there with all of you here on the web.


As I’ve learned about soil health, I have also made huge changes to improve my own health and life. I consulted nutritionists, and I found out I had gut dysbiosis, several food intolerances, and was running on empty from adrenal burnout. For years I have been diligently adjusting my habits, changing my diet, and improving my attitude. I can now confidently say I am on the upswing and am becoming an ever healthier, happier person.

The road to personal health parallels the road to soil and global health.

The road to personal health parallels the road to soil and global health. There are so many similarities between them. First, nutrients that sustain and heal our bodies come from the soil, thus I’ve learned how important it is to protect and tend to the nutrients in the soil beyond standard N-P-K recommendations. Second, microbes play a key role in human gut health, as well as in soil health. The soil is like a gut turned inside out, and our body microbes evolved from ancient soil-dwelling ancestors. It is my belief that microbes rule the world, but we can talk more about that another day.

As I’ve learned in my own journey, and heard from other people as they’ve changed their habits and started to eat healthier more nutrient-dense diets, is that supplying your body with the nutrients and microbes that it needs to run full-steam ahead also naturally makes you happier. The bottom line is, if we want to have a healthy, happy world with healthy people, we need to have healthy soil. The ramifications of this are immense, but that, too, is a topic for another day.  :)

Consider that you, too, are made from these soils.

So, please, look around, put yourself in these fields, think about the soil, think about the impacts that these farmers and gardeners are having on their communities and the lives of everyone around them.Consider that you, too, are connected to these places, and that you are, in essence, made from these soils. Never forget that from the soil we came and to the soil we’ll go, and enjoy the journey.

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All photos are by Natalie Ross and are copyright protected. Please do not use them elsewhere without direct, written permission from Natalie. Thank you.