Blog Action Day: The Environment

– Posted in: Miscellaneous

Two of our greatest assets, water and soil, are taken for granted.

The majority of Westernized human beings have forgotten about their deep connection and dependency on the earth for survival. We are not talking about some altruistic concept such as ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if we all cared and nurtured the earth?’ We are talking survival!

Our technologically advanced society knows how to create incredible machinery but we have lost our way when it comes to the foundation of life, the soil and water. Unlike earlier civilizations as diverse as the Chinese, Greeks and Mayans, who used natural patterns to understand the best way for vegetation to grow,(and at the same time replenished the earth by not planting their crops in rows and using raised bed techniques) most home gardeners rarely are familiar with these concepts, let alone practice them. Or how about the Greeks who observed that in landslide areas where the soil was loose, plant life thrived because moisture, nutrients, air and warmth were allowed to permeate the soil? The French in the 19th century discovered that by raising their beds just a few inches (raised bed techniques) their crops did not freeze.

All of these patterns were discovered because human beings observed and analyzed the land and the climatic conditions in which they lived. For most home owners and weekend gardeners, taking time to observe and analyze their property would at best be a novel concept.

Think about it: organic or sustainable gardening is really quite simple. Compare it to Eastern medicine which is based on maintaining the health and equilibrium of an individual by observing and analyzing her or his needs. Only when some physical or emotional element is out of balance is there any sort of intervention. Organic gardening is no different. By maintaining the health of our soil and water, we are securing a healthy planet for our children and grandchildren. Sustainable gardening’s goal is to produce all the food we need without depleting our environment. It is not a novelty, it’s a necessity.

Statistics back the rationale as to why we need to implement sustainable gardening wholeheartedly.

*For every pound of food produced in the U.S. by mechanized commercial agriculture, 6 pounds of soil are lost forever due to wind and erosion.

*For every pound of food produced, chemical farming methods have destroyed one third of the usable top soil base.

*The World Health Organization estimates that in developing countries over 60% of those living in rural areas and 25% of those living in urban areas have no access to safe drinking water.

*Because of urbanization approximately 2000 acres of agricultural land every day is developed and is covered with concrete or asphalt. This translates into a loss of agricultural land of 630,000 acres per year.

I don’t want to stand on a soapbox and preach to others about how to live their lives. But it seems to me when we can take some simple and common sense measures to replenish the soil and our water sources so that the human race and all other living beings will have the chance to survive for generations to come, we would be foolhardy not to do so.

And if we are in fact becoming aware of the environmental crisis, then each of us needs to take responsibility for how we live, in and out of the garden.

YOU CAN MAKE SMALL CHANGES WITH SIGNIFICANT RESULTS. Two things you can do that will make a difference:

Stop using all chemicals on lawns and all plants: including trees and bushes. This includes fertilizer, unless it is natural, organic and/or slow release (such as corn gluten).

Minimize amount of water used in lawn maintenance. This translates into NOT WATERING your lawn unless you have newly seeded areas.

If you follow these two steps, you really can make a difference, along with all of the other citizens of the world, in the outcome of the survival of all living things and our planet. It’s that simple!

Fran Sorin
The 10th Anniversary Edition of Fran's classic book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, has recently been published. Updated with a new foreword by the renowned author, Larry Dossey, M.D., it has dozens of endorsements from renowned spiritual, gardening, and personal development authors and experts in their fields. A graduate of the University of Chicago with Honors in Psychology and One Spirit Interfaith Seminary, Fran is a renowned gardening expert, passionate gardener, deep ecologist, inspirational speaker, ordained interfaith minister, soul tending coach, and CBS Radio news contributor. See less Google+ | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

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Robin (Bumblebee) October 15, 2007, 6:50 pm

I especially appreciate your points about the lawn. That is one of my biggest problem areas and one that I plan to remedy in the spring. That lawn HAS to go.

BTW, I also posted about Blog Action Day.

Good going!

–Robin (Bumblebee)

fsorin October 16, 2007, 12:37 pm

Robin-

It is tough to give up the majority of your lawn but once you do it, you wonder why it took you so long…..it truly is a feeling of freedom! Fran

Layanee October 17, 2007, 7:51 pm

Fran: I have an interesting relationship with my ‘lawn’. It sometimes is green and it is mowed on a regular basis but it rarely gets ‘fed’ and never gets water! It is usually fine! I should mention that it cannot be seen from the road so the pressure is low. Great post and thoughtful ideas. I am concerned with the future of potable water. It has been so dry here this summer that some wells are drying up. Many rely on wells in the country. You really cannot live without water can you!?

fsorin October 18, 2007, 12:59 pm

Layanee-

You make a good point about having grass that neither needs fertilizing or extra water.

One of our bloggers, David Salman, of HighCountryGardens, turned me on to grasses like Buffalo that are pretty much drought resistant and need not even to be mowed on a regular basis.

Ultimately, each of us has to decide how we’re going to try to live a more sustainable lifestyle. There is no one right way. If your grass is really low maintenance and you like it, then there is no need to consider removing it.

You are right about the water situation. The Southeast is presently experiencing such a severe drought that several cities are concerned that their water supplies will dry up within the next 90-120 days unless there is a drastic change in weather. Pretty scary and hard to believe that this is happening in the US!! Fran