Permacultivator Geoff Lawton once said that all the problems in the world can be solved in a garden. And it’s not hard to see the truth in this statement when you look at the many ways a garden can, indeed, help us make the transition to a more sustainable lifestyle. It offers an impressive number of solutions.
As a sustainability consultant, I work with people who are trying to live âgreenerâ lives. I know many of the obstacles that people encounter and perceive as they continue on this journey. Often times, effective garden design and gardening can break down these barriers and make every little step more achievable.
Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to have their own garden. But those of us who do, no matter how small, should recognize how much of a godsend it really is and see more clearly how it can help us solve so many of our problems.
Obtain the necessities of life
It can be helpful when making the transition to a more sustainable lifestyle to start by thinking about the basic necessities of life and how they can be obtained. A well-designed garden can meet more needs than most people realize. It goes beyond the obvious (food) to include fresh water that is captured and stored on site through rainwater harvesting, earthworks, proper planting and careful plant management. and the ground. Many other things that we need for everyday life can also be obtained from a well-planned garden over time.
You don’t have to be an expert in gardening to take advantage of natural resources. Even weeds can provide us with the things we need. From fuels to natural medicine, fibers to natural cleaners, from construction materials to building elements, plants and the natural environment are abundant with resources, and these can be harnessed in many ways, even in smaller spaces. .
Unfortunately, money is often seen as a barrier to sustainability. But making the most of a garden’s resources can lower the costs of daily living for a surprisingly low initial investment.
Capacity building and empowerment
No individual or household is an island, and living in our complex and interconnected world means that there are many things over which we have no control. Many people find it difficult to maintain their enthusiasm for lifestyle changes when they are constantly blocked in their sustainability efforts by governments, authorities, businesses or even communities that are not as green as they are. they are.
Taking more control over meeting our basic needs, learning skills and acquiring knowledge for greater autonomy can help us feel empowered and revitalized. While complete self-sufficiency is not an achievable goal for most gardeners, we can all come a lot closer to it. It helps us feel calmer and better weather storms that may arise.
Gardening, managing your space, and using your garden resources provide the opportunity to learn a range of foundational skills, skills that are important in finding the path to a more sustainable future and in reducing your negative impact. Acquiring gardening skills is a gateway to learning other vital skills, such as cooking and preserving sustainable food, foraging and identifying plants, herbal medicine, making a range of home and personal care items, crafts and more.
A garden grows people as well as plants. The right garden is a stimulating environment to broaden the mind and broaden horizons.
Autonomy begins within. Good mental state can give us a solid foundation on which to build resilience. A garden puts us in that state of mind that allows us to breathe, stay calm and bounce back when things don’t go as planned.
Stress, anger, and other emotions are natural as we contemplate the climate crisis and the damage done by people, and see common injustices. But such emotions, while they can move us forward on our sustainability journey, also hold us back. Strong emotions are not always the best motivations for real and lasting behavior change.
As many have discovered during times of lockdown, having a backyard to escape to can help us stay the course. Science has shown that immersion in nature and gardening provide a range of benefits for our physical and mental health and well-being.
Having a garden and setting up composting systems makes it easier for us to manage food waste and create closed loop systems. But more than that, a garden can also be an ideal location for a wide range of recycling and reuse projects.
Global crisis mitigation
By growing our own food, harvesting other resources and managing waste, we can dramatically reduce our consumption and our negative impact on the planet. We can also help sequester carbon in plants and soil creating a sustainable and productive garden. These plants help purify the air of pollutants and fight against the loss of biodiversity. They also attract and help wildlife by providing food and shelter. Beyond taking care of personal issues and overcoming certain obstacles on the way to a more sustainable lifestyle, a garden can help us play a greater role in crisis management on a much larger scale. large.