The Possibilities

Cultivating a Reciprocal Relationship

If you have somewhere to work with plants and soil, you have the opportunity to do something about declining biodiversity, soil carbon loss, depletion or pollution of the water table, unsustainable extraction of resources and negative health impacts of urban living.

Urban spaces and lifestyles have led to many of us losing our relationship with the land where we live and the ecosystems and ecological processes we rely on for our survival and wellbeing. 

Moving from a gardening or landscaping perspective to a land care approach can help to reverse this process. Practicing land care means starting any garden or landscape project with the question, what does this place need to be well? 

This translates into the work of observation and interacting with the space, making thoughtful plans, providing services to the plants and the local ecosystem that support the above and below ground life, such as transportation of seeds, the clearing of some plants and the nurturing of others, gathering and distributing organic matter. Land care is about engagement and participation in the care of the ecosystem and gathering the gifts that the plants offer. Cultivating a direct relationship between the plants, soil and other life that that make up the local environment and the site that you are working work with is an important part of the process. 

These practices arise from the understanding that all organisms in nature are interdependent, and in order to enjoy healthy communities we must foster the health of the entire ecosystem. 

Equally important is the choice to cultivate ecosystem health in place, rather than transporting healthy soils from other locations, and avoiding the use of materials or practices that harm the health of the ecosystem, whether in your garden, or through the extraction, processing and manufacturing of landscaping materials. 

When it comes to the materials in your landscape the emphasis is on, everywhere it is safe and possible, repairing, repurposing and making do with on site and local materials, rather than purchasing new materials or transporting materials long distances. 

Home landscapes provide additional benefits if they can displace things like unsustainable food production and transportation, off site treatment of storm water and the loss of organic matter to contamination in landfills or to poorly managed municipal green bin programs. 

A mature garden can also become a source of seeds, plants and healthy soil biology for other gardens and landscapes. 

Plants eat sunshine and feed the rest of the world. They also filter air and water, build soil, create habitat and materials and are the foundation that the rest of life relies on. 

By putting the questions of what the local ecosystem needs to be healthy and what we can do to support that at the forefront of every project or decision we can help them take care of everything, and everyone, else.