It’s easy to get frustrated with our seeming inability to make positive change for the good of the environment (and thus ourselves) when powerful corporate lobbyists seem to have unlimited funds to buy politicians. But as consumers, we actually have a lot of power collectively.
This little guy, identified by the NCSU Extension agents as a crane fly, has a lot of friends living in our hoop house right now. Frequently, when a farmer talks about insects, we expect them to be referring to a pest or problem. A fun fact I learned at a Xerces society beneficial insect class last year is that only 2% of insects are considered agricultural pests… That’s right, when broad spectrum insecticides are applied to the land, 98% of the insects destroyed were not pests, but potential beneficial insects. That level of ‘collateral damage’ is unacceptable.
Our little friend above, the Crane fly, is one of those not considered to be a pest, though its larvae may chew on your production plant’s roots a little here and there, mostly they just consume decaying organic matter in overly wet conditions, so this little fly actually can act as an indicator for me, letting me know when I’ve been watering my hoop house too much!
Chief Seattle said that we are part of the web of life, and what we do to the web, we do to ourselves. Our over use of pesticides is coming back to haunt us, not only through the toxic effects on our bodies, but through the destruction of insects which are at the base of a complex ecological dependence–of which we are a part. Here are two recent articles worth taking the time to read more about the urgent need to remove toxins from agricultural practices:
The Holocene is coming to an end. In general, we as a species have not been good stewards of the land. It’s so powerful and moving to see so many passionate people acknowledging the reality of climate change, and finding ways to combat it on a personal level since many of the governments around the globe are not acting fast enough, if at all.
The consequences of the convenience oriented, disposable mindset I grew up in are a large part of why we chose to start a farm with a sustainability focus, and why we work so hard to sequester as much carbon as we can through our farming practices, while producing clean electricity at the farm via photovoltaics, and using locally made biodiesel in our truck. It’s easy to get depressed by current administration of the USA and it’s rejection of scientific fact/lack of action, so I wanted to put together some links of active heroes and champions of ecological preservation and climate change activism just in case you weren’t aware of them.
We all have a part to play in reducing our ecological foot prints, from the now amazingly easy step of buying 100% renewable electricity thanks to the likes of https://www.arcadiapower.com/ to using locally made biofuel in your car, walking or biking when you can, eating organic, and avoiding the purchase of anything ANYTHING made of plastic! These may seem like little things on an individual level, but collectively, they make a big impact.
Below are links to some of my personal heroes speaking out in support of ecological sustainability and in some cases, encouraging the radical change we so desperately need. I hope these videos inspire you to action and renew your commitment to doing all you can for the future of life on this planet.
This article goes into the differences between Ecoregions and Hardiness Zones, it’s a great reminder of how we have lots of considerations to take into account when planning for crops and permaculture plantings. Micro climates make a big difference, and perhaps more importantly, the critters that live within those regions.
There’s an answer to this, human-scale, no-till, regenerative agriculture. Now before you say anything crazy like, ‘we can’t produce enough food without chemicals and artificial fertilizer to support our current population…damn hippie!’ I suggest you spend some time on https://rodaleinstitute.org/ where they have 35 years of research showing organic, regenerative agriculture is more productive than ‘conventional’ (also, birth control works)… Regardless, until the steel, mouldboard plough was invented in the 1800’s, agriculture was a human-scale, no-till enterprise. For at least the 10,000 years before the plough, humans were able to grow food without a negative energy balance.
Today, we use more than 10 times the energy contained in the food we produce. That’s right, if the food on your plate holds 10 jouls of energy available to nourish your body, we consumed more than 100 joules of energy to get it there on your plate.
The energy balance doesn’t add up. Imagine if a bobcat used 10 joules of energy to catch a mouse that only gave it 1 joul of energy in nourishment…how long would that bobcat survive?
Thanks to fossil fuel, we’re living on borrowed time, letting the stored energy in coal/oil/gas ‘make our life easier’, but it’s not sustainable, and we have to make a change. Professional market gardeners are making a living off 1/4 acre. How much food could you grow in your yard?