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Regenerative Design - Why Being "Sustainable" Just Isn't Good Enough

Water-guzzling front lawns. Commercially-sized monocrop farms that are completely dependent on chemical fertilizers. Round-up ready GMO food and forage crops that all make their way into our bodies making us sicker than we’ve ever been before.

GMO Canola Field:

When we talk about being sustainable, we are talking about keeping things the same, adhering to the status quo. This is simply not good enough. The way that we, as a species, have been heading, is not the direction that we need to keep going. If we continue down this road, we will no longer have any clean water. We will no longer have any fertile soil. We will not be able to breathe the air. Our weather continues to be less predictable, less stable. We are currently experiencing one of the worst droughts in decades (in Regina, SK, this is the driest July in 130 years). I think we can all agree that this isn’t the way it should be.

My annual garden this year is dismal to say the least. Poor germination due to cold night temperatures and lack of rain combined with slow growth rates because of relentless spring winds and a painful drought. I do not have city water. I do not have a well. I rely on rainwater for all of my domestic and gardening needs. It simply does not make sense to waste any precious drops on irrigation. That is why I have switched the majority of my food production into perennial food sources.

USDA Zone 3 Perennial Food Forest in its Second Year:

I plant them and water them once. And only once. I mulch them heavily with wood chips or sawdust, then let nature do the rest. Yes, they would grow faster if I watered them, but they survive. Year after year, I have salad greens, fruit, berries, nuts, herbs for tea, medicine, and forage for my chickens which provide meat and eggs, all without having to water. Not only is it a lot less work, but the nutritional value of the perennial food is higher than annual plants. It is never sprayed with any chemicals, and the whole system fertilizes itself by composting the leaves that drop, the greens that die back in the winter, and the comfrey that I chop and drop around each fruit tree.

The plants support each other by providing shade, repelling pests, or creating a space for predatory insects to live so that they may eat unwelcome pests. The soil is being built each year instead of being depleted and lost. The plants that are grown are cleaning the air we breathe and their roots are holding the soil in place so that it doesn’t wash away.

This is how regeneration takes place. By contributing more to the natural environment than you are taking away. Creating habitats for insects and animals, community gathering/bartering spaces, and food that grows in such abundance that it needs to be given away.

It is not only possible, but much easier than you’d think. Please contact me for more information about creating regenerative edible landscapes elpermaculture@gmail.com.

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Craven, SK S0G 0W0

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