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Natural Awakenings Bucks and Montgomery Counties PA

Local Article: Beyond Growing and Eating Locally

Mar 01, 2013 12:19AM

by Hermann Moser

Strengthening local economies has come into focus over the past several years as individuals have united to address a number of societal challenges. Many have recognized that because our human communities are intertwined with local and regional ecosystems, the health of both our human and natural communities is inextricably linked and that we need to change the institutions and systems that do not reflect these connections. For example, the industrial and post-industrial approaches to energy, transportation, education, healthcare, politics and economics have largely failed to incorporate our interdependence with nature.

As more people come to understand the importance of methods of the ways in which food production and distribution affect the health of communities, the need to localize our food systems comes into focus. Uniting around the issue, communities are developing community supported agriculture (CSA) farms, food cooperatives (co-ops) and other creative partnerships, and some are looking to their own backyards as a viable option.

While growing food locally is wonderful thing, the next step is to bring a more holistic perspective to agricultural and horticultural practices, one that observes the cyclical and regenerative processes rooted in indigenous species and materials, rather than relying on continual streams of input to gain output. This approach, known as permaculture, means that in addition to growing food, gardeners treat their properties as closed-loop systems in which compost and homemade biochar replace fertilizers; water is harvested, filtered and used for irrigation; native food crops, such as hazelnuts, ground nuts, blackberries and pawpaw, are rediscovered; and medicinal plants become highly integrated into the landscape and our diets. Such a system reflects and respects its environment and is more dynamic, self-sufficient, resilient, productive and beautiful.

Hermann Moser is principal of Land Stewards Ecological Landscape Design and has been a practitioner of tenets of sustainable landscape and permaculture design for 13 years. For more information, call 267-446-4070 or email [email protected], March 2013

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