A few posts back I mentioned the analogy of the conservationist and his axe that Aldo Leopold wrote about in his great book “The Sand County Almanac”. The quote went something like this: “a true conservationist can be known by the way he wields his axe.” Point again is that axe wielding (using nature) is going on of course, it’s always going to go on, and that’s not a bad thing, but it’s how one wield’s his or her axe that makes the difference.
Well, I’ve got a great affinity for agriculture, especially sustainable, perennial and self- seeding annual agriculture. Models like Agroforestry which mix annual based production models with perennial models to build biomass, provide wildlife corridors, protect crops and animals from weather variations, and increase farm profits are particularly good. What we’re looking at in agriculture with these models is a net benefit to entire systems: natural, economical, and social.
Zizania aquatica, or wild rice is one of those plants that I have dreams about growing when I dream agricultural dreams. It’s a self seeding annual that does well in ecological models of agriculture. Just the Latin name sounds like magic, as if it could be found in a Wizard’s book of spells. It’s a native to Michigan, but has had some trouble with invasives, destruction of its habitat, and pollution. The plant not only feeds people but it also provides much needed habitat and food for migrating waterfowl.
The Manoomin Project (Manoomin is a native american word for “good berry”) is a project to restore wild rice habitat in the Upper Pennisula of Michigan. Tradition tells that when the Ashinabee people first came to Michigan from the south, the wild rice grew in abundance. Let’s hope that it will be abundant again.
This video is a little old, 2007 I think, but It definitely shows the principles of good use in action and many possible beneficial outcomes: educating communities about natural resources, trying to restore social ills by using troubled youths to do help with the planting, providing a possible income source in the future to impoverished communities and restoring the environment.
Please feel free to share how systems of use are being restored in your part of the world.
Also, here are few pictures that I took today while trying to observe the natural world better, as I mentioned in my previous post, Learning How to See:
Rock and Shadow