Our client, Blue Thumb — Planting for Clean Water® has one overarching mission to teach people how to combat dirty water runoff, the No.1 threat to our waterways. Part of that mission is helping people understand and prepare for climate change by creating resiliency in their own yards.


The Minnesota State Fair is a huge opportunity for Blue Thumb to talk to individuals about how they can positively impact the environment with their own yards starting by understanding what a resilient yard means.

For Blue Thumb’s 2017 State Fair Exhibit, we created a series of “Resilient Yards” signs all with catchy headlines followed by a quick-read set of retainable information about each component that makes a yard resilient. Each sign states real human benefits to planting alternate turf, native plants, trees, and shrubs. This year we extended the series to include a sign about “Healthy Soil.”


When it came to creating a new sign on healthy soil we initially thought “Get Good Dirt” would fit perfectly as the headline. It had the same short and catchy tone as the others. This is where you learn to kill your darlings (how true!) because when soil experts were consulted, they got really emotional about the word “dirt.”

For starters, their definition of dirt refers to something unclean. It’s something we don’t want in our houses or it’s something you dig up about a person’s past. It can be used to describe off-color jokes and lies. Dirt is soil that’s dead. Soil that’s dead can’t hold moisture and has been stripped of all its nutrients due to poor agricultural practices or simple neglect. Think Dust Bowl.

dust bowl storm

If we are not careful about our agricultural practices in light of climate change, we could be looking at another Dust Bowl in our future. Thankfully there are ways to build resiliency into our fields.


Soil, specifically healthy soil, the groundwork for making a yard resilient, as the soil experts tell it, is simply quite amazing.

Healthy soil holds more water, prevents runoff from rain and snow, helps plant communities thrive, cools and cleans water naturally, and is home to 10 BILLION organisms per tablespoon! It also absorbs CO2 from the air. Healthy soil is nothing short of a living system. Plus, it just plain smells good. This might explain why gardeners really enjoy working the soil because it feels so alive.

hands holding root bundle with healthy black soil

However, the public at large all uses “dirt” and “soil” interchangeably. People don’t think much about the meaning behind each word. But for soil experts, it’s a completely different matter. For us, it meant getting creative with messaging to arrive at a balance that would match the other signs, still capture fairgoers’ attention, and keep us honest with the facts.

Here is the result. A catchy headline that people can relate to and keeps with the overall Resilient Yards message. Thank you soil scientists! We couldn’t do this without you.


What can you do with your one wild and precious yard? Visit the Minnesota State Fair’s EcoExperience Exhibit between August 23 through September 3 and talk with Blue Thumb’s Finest On Earth™ partners and learn and how you can create your own resilient yard. And make a difference to climate change.

This project was produced in creative partnership with MP&G Marketing Solutions who provided strategy, messaging, copy, and project coordination.


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