Old friends come home for the holidays and we have a chance to catch up . I started a conversation with a friend I’ve known for ten or more years about energy issues and farming. Our opinions and views differ, for example he believes well managed nuclear power is ‘the’ energy solution, and I believe multiple small and regional solutions like methane digesters, solar, and wind can meet energy demands. To knock the energy issue into an unconventional strata take a look at Thrive a new bold documentary about reclaiming energy all around us.
I have become a better listener over the years. I am much less reactive and less argumentative because of some wonderful parents, elders, and friends. Also the social technologies of Non-Violent Communication communication based in compassion for self and others and Co-Counseling which is a practice of counseling done with the basic assumption that we are all good, we all have our own answers, and we can each make intentional changes in our behaviors and live.
My friend and I did our best to honor each others opinions and see each other as searchers for solutions instead of opponents. We have grown mutual respect for ten years. Still our discussions took tones of arguments at some points, and I’m ashamed to recall me (several times) throwing my hands on the table and saying, “well that’s dumb!”
My walk away point: I can still improve my listening skills and strengthen camaraderie and ditch opposition. Another walk away point is I must put my believes into practice. I described ideas for Amarillo based on real practices I’ve seen and read about. Now I must prove my hypothesis which is: backyard ecosystems managed by a household can produce %20 or more of households’ food with an average of one hour or less weekly maintenance.
Real practice means spending 10$ from my weekly $50 food budget on my garden and only $40 at the grocery store. I need to install time savers like soaker hoses, drip systems, and micro sprays on a timer. Establishing perennial plants is also key to a backyard ecosystem because perennial plants roots become homes for healthy soil biology and increas yields of herbs, food, or animal/bee foder each year with decreasing amount of inputs and maintenance.
Creating and maintaining the soil food web and a backyard ecosystems with plants, animals, and microbs is a local food solution. People can do less weeding and fertilizing when the soil is healthy. Using rain water instead of chlorinated city water or at least letting the chlorine off gas from the water for a day will also make all plants healthier. Details at the start of systems can alter the system greatly.
These details are what will make Better Kitchen Gardens better. I must dedicate time to understanding and put into practice backyard ecosystems and decreasing inputs of human labor and keeping resources within the backyard ecosystem.
I also must continue a path of camaraderie and keep my many family and friendships vibrant, fun, and healthy!