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Plant some trees, and then plant some more

Nate and I recently watched a documentary that was rather depressing, and the environmentalist had a grim outlook for humanity. We are much more optimistic. Grassroots movements are popping up, and brilliant minds are collaborating to make a much bigger impact on fixing the imminent problems surrounding climate change and agricultural production and the impact of each on our wellbeing. Right here locally, through practice of regenerative agriculture, silvopasture and agroforestry, we and friends are on a mission to create biodiversity and sustainability to heal the soil, and provide nutrient rich foods for the community. Crew Family Orchards, Green-Eyed Farms and Spartan Tusk and Feather are lighting the way.

I recently read the startling statistic that we have roughly 60 harvests before our land and soil is so depleted that it cannot grow food. Shocking and scary, I know. If that doesn’t light a fire in you to make a change then I don’t know what will. Our slogan, “Plant trees like there’s a tomorrow,” isn’t just a cute play on words. It’s true. It’s our passion, and we hope to inspire others in our vision of re-greening our community and beyond. I won’t get too technical because the trees are Nate’s forte and area of expertise. He is the mastermind behind the design of our orchards, and he’s doing it almost entirely by hand to preserve the old growth and native trees and not further damage the soil with heavy machinery.

Nate practices and is an advocate for agroforestry - while simultaneously healing the soil, you are also improving air and water quality, encouraging a diverse ecosystem for wildlife. The addition of bees to the land has been extremely beneficial for the production of trees and the wild berries throughout our land; and the biodiversity shines through in the quality and flavor of the honey that is produced by the bees. By doing all of this, we create a virtuous cycle that will allow the land to produce for generations. Just step foot on our land and you feel, smell, and hear the difference; it is healing in a plethora of ways. The birdsong, the trees rustling, the bees buzzing, all the critters and deer scurrying in the woods, are sounds of life all around you, and the air just feels fresh.

Back in the city, introducing wood chips and then chickens to our Dartmouth Yard Orchard has helped speed up the healing of the soil in our backyard that was once just sand. Through their scratching and pecking and their rich nitrogen poop added, they feed the microbes and micellar networks, leaving a rich soil full of nutrients to grow delicious trees, plants, berry bushes, vegetables, and anything else you could think of. They sure do love to hang out in our peach trees. This is regenerative agriculture to a smaller degree than utilizing cows or pigs. Our Dartmouth Yard Orchard is the first mini-orchard we started, the next will be Family Life Community Orchard at WoodmenLife®. Both will be testimony to the benefits of recycling wood chip mulch, and the addition of compost, to transform an ordinary backyard in the city into a permaculture, or in the case of WoodmenLife®, transforming a concrete pool into a therapeutic orchard for all to enjoy.

A friend from Florida recently mentioned visiting North Carolina and not seeing any wildlife. This was a startling observation and really proves we have got to step up and become more environmentally friendly. Guess how we can fix this?

Step 1, starting planting trees. The birds started coming to our backyard when Nate started planting the fruit trees and blueberry bushes. We have big fat squirrels too – they stole a lot of fruit this spring! Plant a garden with plants that will attract the bees and butterflies.

Step 2, start composting. It’s easy – just keep a Rubbermaid container with a lid on your counter and then find a place in your backyard to dump it. You can get fancy and buy a compost bin for outside, and special compostable bags for a crock or bin for in the house – but really, you just need some sort of container for inside and a place outside you’ll dump it all. We don’t compost meat, but just about everything else we do – including dryer lint and vacuum cleaner lint. Did you know food rotting in landfills produces methane gas, which is even more potent than carbon dioxide? Yikes, right? Composting and wasting less food can significantly help this. Being more intentional on shopping and then using what we buy would cut down on this waste astronomically.

And Step 3, recycle and become greener in a plethora of ways. (That could be a blog post all on its own!) While single use anything is more convenient, it is wasteful. There are so many switches we can make to decrease individual waste within our homes and choosing products that are not only better for our planet, but for our health as well. Takes a little extra planning and intentionality, but our planet needs us to try. Imagine if we all start taking small steps, how much of an improvement that will be. Sounds cliché, but we really need to be thinking of ways to make every day Earth Day.

I’ll leave you with a profound quote: “We must treat the whole problem of health in soil, planet, animal and man as one great subject.” Sir Albert Howard, Soil and Health 1947.

Until next time.

Love, Dr. Amanda

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