Lately, I've been hearing a lot about Regeneration. That it's not enough to be organic; rather, we should be focusing on regenerating the land. For those of us with small home gardens, this isn't hard - we're regenerating by adding compost and organic matter, not tilling the soil, planting native flowers and perennial vegetables, adding mulch and being aware of how to plant in different microclimates in our yards for the most benefit. But in terms of large-scale agriculture, it's much more difficult - we know something has to change if the system is going to be sustainable, but feeding the entire country this way is hard.
A new short film shows some ways to feed folks in a regenerative way, and it's a fast and entertaining piece. It's called 'Unbroken Ground,' and you can find it here. There's a short description of the film and the full version is at the end of the page. It's a great film, and very encouraging for the future.
I've been driving the kids back and forth to various sleep-away camps, and on those longish trips, I catch up on my podcasts. Yesterday while driving home from Oroville I heard the most recent Radiolab podcast, which is about the connection between tree species in forests. It's another topic I've been hearing a lot about and researching, the way roots interact with mycelium in a symbiotic relationship, but what makes this particular listen so fun is that the hosts are just blown away by what trees can do. And it makes the listener rethink his or her own ideas about trees, too. You can find that podcast here.
Finally, two books for your summer reading pleasure. I read both of these a while back but realized recently that I need to recommend them, because they are both so great. A caveat: Neither of these is for the typical weekend gardener. If you're a serious plant geek, like me, then you'll enjoy them a lot.
The first is 'Planting in a Post-Wild World' by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West. What I like about this book is that it shows how to plant in communities - but where local native gardening tours are obsessively focused on only native plants, this book brings in plants from all over the world and groups them with our natives to make communities that work together. I must have highlighted the entire preface of this book, I was just that inspired. It's a very practical guide and is written mostly for landscape designers who care about regeneration, but I've found it very useful in my home garden as well.
I can't tell you how many times I heard, on local garden and farm tours, "I plant things, and if it doesn't live, well then it wasn't meant to be there, oh well." What a waste of time and money. Wouldn't it be much more prudent to figure out what will grow best where, and then plant accordingly?
Another really wonderful book I've read lately is 'Beyond the War on Invasive Species,' by Tao Orion. Ms Orion works to rehabilitate natural habitats. She found that a regular practice in this field is using chemicals to combat the invasive weeds. She wondered if there was another way to deal with the problem; then found that invasive species really aren't the problem we think they are. In fact, they tend to fix an awful lot about the soil and habitats they grow in. Yes, this includes kudzu and loosestrife, both of which can be a real problem on the East Coast. If you're interested in why weeds grow, this is the book for you. And it may make you feel differently about the weeds in your own garden.
I would love to hear your recommendations, too - books or film or anything, really! Just let me know in the comments.