This coming Saturday (the 22nd) is Earth Day. In 1970, the “modern environmental movement” was created, and this day celebrates those efforts. While I don’t believe that the climate change we are witnessing today is wholly caused by the efforts of man, I do believe we should all do our part to minimally impact the planet in a negative capacity. We overuse man made (often petroleum based) chemicals in an effort to combat nature in the name of farming. Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and synthetic fertilizers all contribute to reducing soil life and increasing soil erosion. Even “organic” practices are less than ideal when handled poorly. Over-tilling, over-cropping, and over-watering the soil can also lead to more soil erosion.
By reducing soil disturbance over the long term, using passive water catchment techniques to slow it, spread it, and sink it, and by using a diversity of plants and animals in our systems, we can use permaculture techniques to improve soil life, and produce an abundance of food for our families and local communities. Teaching permaculture concepts to others is my contribution to “Earth Day,” except I do it year round.
If everyone were to change their habits just a little each year, learn more about better ways to deal with waste, source food more locally, grow some of their own, and so on, we would heal this planet a little more each day. I rarely go into details about the damage we do, preferring to discuss the positives of the techniques, but sometimes it’s good to talk about those negatives. Earth Day is a good excuse to bring them up.
Go do something positive. Start a garden. If you already have one, try planting some perennials in or near it. If you’ve got those, try expanding your horizons and so something new such as combining vines with your back yard orchard, or planting comfrey (or other support plants) around the base to be cut back and left as mulch to feed the trees. Do something productive, but start where you’re at. Don’t try to jump in all at once. Most of all, go learn and learn some more.