Healthy Lawns Why Go Green

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Why Go Green?

Many people have no idea what the term organic means. They often ask, “Why do you buy organic? It is so expensive,” “aren’t trees and grass already organic?”

sqtestOrganic, on a higher level, means working with nature in our daily lives. This is why it’s crucial to start thinking about our individual impact on the environment by asking ourselves simple questions on a daily basis: Should I send my table scraps to a landfill or compost them and put them on the lawn and garden for food? In this chemical society how can I eat food untainted by chemical pesticides? Should I continue to contaminate my homestead and the surrounding environment with toxins for the sake of aesthetics? By answering these questions and then acting on these answers, organics transforms from a state of mind to an action plan to protect our environment our homesteads and ourselves.

Resistance to inorganic agriculture and horticulture

Concerns about chemicals are of course a very old story. Scientists, agriculturists, and horticulturists have long resisted the spread of chemical methods. By the 1890s, industrial production of chemical fertilizers was in full swing, but Julius Hansell and other soil scientists began to question the need for industrial methods when there also existed a natural, biological farming system. Putting his ideas to work, Hansell discovered that he could grow fruits and vegetables with the finely ground, mineral-rich silt from mountain streams. Silt-treated plants grew very well and did not attract insects or diseases. What happened after the publication of Hansell’s findings showed just how powerful the monetary and political interests behind the prevailing industrial system truly were. Hansell was harassed, suppressed, and discredited. Many other twentieth-century pioneers of agriculture, such as Ruth Downs, George Earp-Thomas, Carey Reams, and William A. Albrecht, received similar treatment. Horticulture came from agriculture the very same principles in agriculture apply to horticulture.

Continuing the resistance movement

sqtestMuch of the damage being done to the natural environment these days takes place on small suburban plots. Native woodlands and prairie lands that have existed for thousands of years are replaced by six trees, fifty shrubs, and an acre of turf grass. These plots must then be cultivated with chemical fertilizers and pesticides. If this is where so much of the damage is being done, then this is where the solution can begin, The battleground for environmental renewal will be the average suburban lawn, with the battle itself to be fought by the average suburban homeowner. What is needed is a new way of thinking about a residential suburban property—a way that is both very new and very old. For hundreds of years, people viewed their property as a garden—a resource that doubled as a food source and as an aesthetically pleasing retreat. According to Patrick Neill, a mid-nineteenth century secretary of the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society, horticulture was a branch of rural economy; its application to the yard engendered style in the form of flowers—and substance in the form of fruits and vegetables. Property literally helped to sustain inhabitants. Moreover, it was through imitation of nature that horticulturists achieved the best overall gardening results. Horticulture emphasized variety but not simply for the sake of diversity. Rather, horticulturists valued variety in order to achieve diversity in produce, hence sustainability. Today’s suburban properties—an acre of manicured turf, five trees, and fifty shrubs—are not gardens, but they can be. In order to convert twenty million small plots of land to twenty million gardens,-we must return to traditional methods and reclaim the organic ethos that undergirds these methods.

– Mark Pavletich

Healthy Lawns 101