For this episode Thoreau comes to mind when he says, “The finest qualities of our Nature, like the bloom on fruits, can be preserved only by the most delicate handling.” I also like Muir when he says, “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” These men, and others alike, have a simple yet profound lesson for us to learn: Our human spirit has realms of expression and potential far greater than those usually realized by civilized life. By living within Nature, Thoreau and Muir explored and discovered the infinitued of the human spirit, finding that it can achieve much more important, beautiful truths when not restrained by the limitations of urban living. Which brings us to introducing you to a few of our friends whom are making a positive difference on an infinite level starting with our origins…..the soil.
Laura Maher and John Szczepanek of Eco Restoration Partners are bent on helping us adopt a friendlier approach to how we relate to our landscape. Eco Restoration encourages us to divorce ourselves from the “Home Depot” garden by promoting and collaborating “in the creation of strong, healthy, bountiful suburban gardens.” They “provide suburban garden support and organic soil building services…. (by creating) beautiful, pesticide-free, pollinator habitats filled with perennials and edibles.” Their “succession planning will transform (our) understanding of soil, water, food, and our community,” much the same way as did Thoreau and Muir.
On a hot and dry summer afternoon Berg and Brian met Laura and John at our friend Chuck’s Eichler home (https://www.facebook.com/MidCenturyModernEichlerHomesInThousandOaks) to learn about how Eco Restoration helped Chuck transform his property from a depleted tract of land into a sustainable urban garden rich in nutrients, life, and food. Years of pollution, chemical indoctrination and petroleum based agriculture has all but destroyed our earth. It all starts with the soil, says John. Soil is the fundamental ingredient to our sustained existence. Treat your soil like your favorite car. Take good care of it because in return it will care for you. Get it under your fingernails and on your skin to appreciate it. Smell it.
Mulching is a key component to healthy, sustainable soil. Mulch improves the quality of soil by breaking up clay and allowing better water and air movement. Mulch provides nutrients to soil and improves its ability to hold water. Mulch is an insulating layer keeping soil cooler in the summer (http://www.ccwater.com/files/Drought101Mulch.pdf).
When you plant, do so with thought and consideration to the indigineous habitat. Plant for beauty as well as for usefulness. Plant to reduce water consumption. Plant fruits and vegetables so you have control over your diet. As Laura says, “Chose the right plants to tailor to who you are feeding”. Plant to promote a safe haven for wildlife like the monarch butterfly, bees and birds. Plant to maximize the benefits while reducing the carbon footprint. Plant to be rewarded on many levels. Plant to educate yourself.
The transformation of Chuck’s property is remarkable. His devotion to learning and leading by example is inspiring. I’d like to think that Chuck’s transformation has been personal, spiritual and practical. At the helm is Chuck’s eagerness to change. And As we are all well aware, change is scary. The first step to changing is to start. Eco Restoration is a start. Eco Restoration is also a step by step process. They are a partnership. John and Laura are genuine. They are good folk with a positive vision to making our home a better place to live. Spending an afternoon in Chuck’s backyard with John and Laura was educational, sociable, enjoyable and inspirational.
Here are some key words that are highlighted from Chillin’s meeting with Eco Restoration Partners and our neighbor Chuck: draught, going native, beyond saving water, Eco Restoration Partners, aspire, habitat restoration, climate appropriate, pollinate, food source, holistic, soil, mulch, compost, mimic natural systems, complementing, symbiotic, good model, monarchs, bees, birds, choosing, tailer, crucial, environment, resourcing, forage crops, Moringa, kitchen garden, immune system, chemicals, establish, transition, character, and extraordinary.
Brian has recently completed a front yard restoration project by abandoning his lawn, mulching, and planting similar to Chuck. The monarchs abound. Berg has begun the first step by removing his lawn and is moving onto step two, mulching. He also dreams of spending time in a yoga ashram at the foot of the Himalayas. We encourage you to abandon your lawn, plant for quality, and breath life into our world through a partnership with the soil.
A Special Bonus Video – How to Compost Dog Waste