The intense and distorted fascination with money-—who has it and how can I get more—belies its true purpose as an arbitrary token used as a medium of exchange.
This article reminds us to focus on what is important, the quantity and quality of healthy soil on our home planet needed to sustain life. When we chase the paper gods rather than realizing that our true wealth lies under our feet, we continue chasing a false dream, bringing us closer to the edge of extinction ourselves, just as we have caused the extinction of so many other species.
Instead, we need to honor the health of the soil and do everything we can to restore balance in our way of thinking and in our environment. Farmers who know how to care for the soil in ways that enrich and sustain it for future generations are the bankers we should be looking to for advice and inspiration. They are the ones who know how to care for our future wealth.
With less open space and more people, smaller farms that feed people locally and replenish the soil are becoming popular in many areas. Limestone Permaculture Farm is a one-acre farm in New South Wales, Australia that was started ten years ago when the wife fell ill. Her husband, a builder, described his excitement about discovering permaculture like this, "When I found permaculture, it was less about one form and more about following nature’s design. It blew my mind.”
Their farm now produces enough produce for 50 families. It uses permaculture techniques and also powers itself primarily from renewable energy. Bees, goats, and chickens also share the farm and contribute their talents. The farm's owners, Brett and Nici Cooper, are still working full-time at jobs away from the farm, but they hope to make farming a full-time life soon.
The Coopers share what they've learned by offering tours, internships, and permaculture programs, hoping to pass on their knowledge and inspire others. As Nici Cooper puts it, “We feel there has been an awakening across our beautiful country, self-reliance is on the rise again; urban and rural homesteading has people taking their food and energy supply back into their own hands. With each passing day we are transitioning to a more wholesome life, creating a more fulfilling and positive future, not just for ourselves but also for our family, friends, and community.”
That's inspiration worth growing everywhere!
Speaking of the Fresh Express mobile deliveries in the Phoenix, Arizona area, Elyse Guidas says, “For a lot of our customers, this is one of their only lifelines and access to healthy food.” And it's not only inner-city lives that are affected. When we traveled across the United States a couple of years ago, along the East Coast and through the back roads of the Midwest, there were many rural, desolate areas where factory farms grew food for people far away and the people who lived there had to travel long distances to find anything other than convenience-store food.
Turning vacant lots into community gardens, delivering fruits and vegetables to community centers, and setting up urban farmers' markets are all examples of bringing the earth's gifts to barren food deserts and the people who live in them.
Shareable.net, "A model of community-supported agriculture in western Massachusetts is going strong"
One of the reasons we moved to western Massachusetts was the bounty of small farms in the area. Living here we could support the farms, simultaneously helping the local economy and reducing the carbon emissions caused by long-distance movement of food. Indian Line Farm in Great Barrington, Massachusetts is located in the Berkshire Mountains west of where we live. It serves as an example of long-term farm planning that brings together community-shared agriculture, land protection, and incentives for investing in local businesses.
Members of the community can purchase shares in the coming year's crop. When they purchase those shares with BerkShares, the local currency, they effectively receive a 5% discount, thanks to the incentives for using the currency to make purchases at local businesses.
A model like this that helps local farmers, businesses, and community members is one that we believe is the foundation of future resilience.
A simple, yet generous idea: providing a neighborhood cabinet kept full of food and hygiene products for anyone who needs them. Neighbors who need items and neighbors who give items have a chance to meet and learn from each other. The founders say at least 100 people pass by every day. They learned about the community cupboard idea online from someone else and now they're planning to offer help and ideas for other people who want to do it. Their Facebook page is Fountain Street Community Cupboard if you want to follow them.
This might be a good idea for our neighborhood, which is in the middle of a double cul-de-sac that combines rental properties and single-family homes with a mix of older people and families with young children.
Sustainable practices are beginning to make their way into large events and we hope they will continue to become commonplace at all events, not just when the event has a "green" theme. Examples of good ideas we've seen at events are providing reusable or compostable plates and cutlery, composting food waste, and making recycling containers available.
Another sustainable practice at large events is to provide water coolers for attendees to refill their glasses and water bottles rather than wasting hundreds of plastic water bottles that have to be recycled later. We were at The People's Climate March in Washington, DC in late April. With over 200,000 people marching together and temperatures in the high 90s on a sunny day, there was a desperate need for water, lots of water.
With all of us toting our reusable water bottles, it was thoughtful and appreciated that the march organizers provided huge water reservoirs, called Water Monsters, and kept them refilled throughout the day. They were perfect for the huge crowd, with multiple spigots on each barrel. Thank you to all who helped keep us hydrated and comfortable without using wasteful plastic. It was a perfect way to take our water to go as we marched to raise awareness of climate change and the need for making changes to live lightly on the earth.
Thanks to the owner's innovative son, Bulk Barn has found a way for customers to bring their own reusable containers for buying food items. With over 250 stores across Canada, this important step to zero-waste shopping can be a model for other large grocery stores to follow.
The Rich Earth Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont is making the case for returning urine to the soil to give back the nitrogen and phosphorus that the vegetables you ate gave to you. They have been working with scientists and farmers since 2011 to gather and test urine-derived fertilizers. Initial results for commercial use look promising and a number of custom toilets offer a variety of ways for "pee-ple" to make a contribution.
A couple in Sweden has built an environmentally-friendly house inside of a greenhouse. The functioning greenhouse not only provides food during the long, cold Swedish winters, but warms the whole house.