Description: “Despite the massive human efforts applied to farming, we are woefully short of the inherent resilience, stability, and outright beauty of natural ecosystems. We need to look no further than native ecosystems for a template of how to move forward from the many woes of annual monocropping. This is our goal and mission: Redesigning Agriculture in Nature’s Image.” Mark Shepard, RestorationAg.com
Mark Shepard returns and goes into more detail about succession only this time he addresses our forest ecosystem makeup. Forests are a “phase” in time. Intrigued? I hope so. Join us for an insightful and helpful discussion.
About My guest: Mark Shepard is the CEO of Forest Agriculture Enterprises LLC, founder of Restoration Agriculture Development LLC and award-winning author of the book, Restoration Agriculture: Real-World Permaculture for Farmers. Mark has also been a former member of the Organic Valley cooperative, the worlds largest Organic Farmer’s marketing co-op, since 1995. He is most widely known as the founder of New Forest Farm, the 106-acre perennial agricultural savanna considered by many to be one of the most ambitious sustainable agriculture projects in the United States.
Transcript: #57 Mark Shepard #2
A couple of years ago one of my poems was selected for an international women’s online publication. This poem reflected my reverence for my body. Our bodies are amazingly designed, a masterpiece of complex interconnectedness. Yet, we women have been subjected to the media definition of what our body should look like. Most of us do not fit the bill. We’re not skinny enough, too curvy, not the right hair color, too old etc. What makes me sad is that many of the print models are airbrushed to look the way they do, giving us a false impression. Stripped down, they are no different than the rest of us.
The good news is we are breaking down some of these image stereotypes. I see the younger gals going more natural wearing little to no makeup. I see baby boomers, my generation, claiming our aging, celebrating our accomplishments that are reflected in our wrinkles, our grey hair, Our bodies change as we grow older, we fill out, more flexible and use our sexuality more creatively if we choose.
Who are my heroines? There are so many to choose from. On a recent post, I highlighted Jean Houston, Caroline Myss, and Marianne Williamson. For this month’s national and international theme of honoring women, chose my earth teachers.
Seeds: Vandana Shiva: Seed Saver Extraordinaire! Scientist, pioneer, rebel, activist, saw the handwriting on the wall. When big chemical companies were introducing seeds injected with systemic pesticides she inherently knew those kinds of seed manipulations could cause unforeseen consequences.
“In 1991 she founded Navdanya, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources – especially native seed – and to promote organic farming and fair trade. For the last two decades, Navdanya has worked with local communities and organizations, serving more than 500,000 men and women farmers. Navdanya’s efforts have resulted in the conservation of more than 3000 rice varieties from across India, and the organization has established 60 seed banks in 16 states across the country. ”
I have read she has had to face great obstacles in her travels of spreading her vision. I admire her courage and fortitude and guiding light.
Plants and Medicine: Rosemary Gladstar: One of our Herb Mothers: I have had the privilege of studying herbal medicine with Rosemary. She and others awakened the herbal movement in the early seventies with the advent of the Aids epidemic. Many fellow herbalists sought out native elders and learned rituals, ceremony to honor the earth. They, in turn, became our teachers, instilling reverence for the species we harvested and consumed.
Rosemary began in California, founded California School of Herbal Medicine, moved to Vermont and began Sage Mountain Herbs. She’s a co-founder of United Plant Savers and the International Herb Symposium, a biennial event, one I have attended and highly recommend. Herbalism has matured. Many of the presenters share their vast experiences of using herbal medicine in practice and offer practical, tested advice. I admire Rosemary for her activism in protecting plant species and offering reliable herbal knowledge.
Earth Partner: Pam Montgomery: Pam was my first herbal teacher. We spent several afternoons way back when, as teacher and student, learning about wildcrafting in responsible ways and learning how to make herbal preparations for family and friends.
Today, she is the founder of Partner Earth Education and has now transitioned into Wake up to Nature, in Vermont. Pam too is an activist seeking to awaken us to our partnership with nature. She is one of the founding members of the Organization of Nature Evolutionaries. or O.N.E. This relatively new organization is working with other organizations that seek to have the legal rights of nature finally recognized. They offer ceremony and ritual to help us feel nature’s deep presence. I respect Pam’s dedication and deep commitment.
All three women embody advocacy, education, and action. Today we have many environmental problems. Like many others, I seek to follow those who inspire us to a more responsible partnership with this earth. Is it easy? No, but that’s where passion and courage come in. We all have unique gifts and talents and as my guest this week reminds us, we can make a difference one project at a time and create change.
So thank you Kelly Rafferty and Kyleigh Hillerud for sharing your story. How in eight short months you took proper action, offered education for informed decision making to your college campus and today celebrate zero plastic bags on campus.
Know you are in good company. Established women, young women starting out, making a difference, Isn’t it great!.
Who do you admire? Let us know. Your comments and stories are appreciated. Enjoy. Judith
Description: Students are making a difference. The University of Connecticut is in my backyard. I receive a newsletter that highlights important work being done across campus. It is here I found Kelly Rafferty and the UConn PIRG chapter tackling ‘zero plastic bags’, taking practical action making this a reality. How did they do? They were successful! The dining Department has done away with plastic bags. Kelly and her group of volunteers polled, presented and accomplished the task of taking plastic bags out of dining services. She and her team offered practical tips, education, and alternatives to students and faculty. After 8 months of diligent work, ‘no plastic bags’ through dining services is now a reality.
Join us for her insightful discussion on the detrimental effects plastic bags have on our health, the environment, how the use of plastic bags depletes our resources and wastes taxpayers money.
About My Guest: Kelly Rafferty is a junior English major student at the University of Connecticut. She is a member of UConn PIRG, a student-run, non-profit advocacy group. In particular, she has been the campaign coordinator for the “Zero Waste” on campus whose mission is to eliminate plastic bags. Join us for an insightful discussion where students such as Kelly are making a difference one school and one town at a time to reduce waste which helps clean up our environment. Actions we desperately need today.
Transcript: #55 Kelly Rafferty
Students at the University of Connecticut are making a difference one issue at a time. Over this past year, the PIRG chapter volunteers got plastic bags banned from dining services. It’s all part of UConn PIRG’s zero waste campaign. Can we make a difference by decreasing plastic bag usage? These students, 2 of whom are my podcast guests this week and next, said yes. They researched the issue, offered education, got students and faculty to sign petitions and basically got the job done. I’m proud of them for their efforts, their enthusiasm and their willingness to create change, one that promotes sustainability and takes care of the earth for the future.
However, I wondered about the facts around our use of plastic bags today? So, I decided to look into the issue more deeply. It’s simply astounding. And I feel saddened to think we have waited so long to take action over a serious problem that has shown us the error of our ways so graphically. Why are we taking so long to make a difference for us and all species?
Let’s look at the UK: Anna Schavorion who writes in Forbes magazine:
England’s single-plastic bag use before 2015
“The use of plastic bags in England’s supermarkets was out of control in 2014. More than 7.6 billion carrier bags were handed out to customers that year and that figure had been on the rise for the previous four years.
England was the last country in the U.K. to introduce a charge for single-use plastic bags. Wales was the first to do so, in 2011, followed by Northern Ireland in 2013 and Scotland in 2014. All saw plastic bag use decrease by 70-80% year-on-year.”
That translates into a huge decrease in personal usage of plastic bags which means a huge decrease in production. Let’s look at more facts:
- Ireland alone reduced plastic bag consumption by 1 Billion bags between 2001 and 2011 by imposing a bag tax of $.37
- We use 1 trillion plastic bags worldwide, a product that consumes resources, contributions to species deaths, adds to pollution.
- The European Union is beginning to get behind promoting a decrease in plastic bags due to the great harm seen in our oceans and other waterways.
- Plastic baags contribute to malaria in Kenya.
- Camels and other animals such as cows and sheep die from plastic bag ingestion.
- “100,000 marine creatures a year die from plastic entanglement and these are the ones found. Approximately 1 million sea birds also die from plastic. A plastic bag can kill numerous animals because they take so long to disintegrate.”
- “There are 5 ocean gyres in the world where plastic gathers due to the current circulation. These gyres contain millions of pieces of plastic and our wildlife feed in these grounds.”
- According to National Geographic: 18 billion pounds of plastic waste flows into the ocean every year from coastal regions. That’s the equivalent of five grocery bags of plastic trash sitting on every foot of coastline around the world. And 40% of plastic produced is packaging, used just once and then discarded.
- How does the US rate in recycling plastics? We recycle 9% compared to Europe at 30%. Here in the Us, we throw away 100 billion plastic bags annually. That’s about 307 bags per person.
- If a ton of plastic bottles is recycled, the energy that is saved is the same as the amount of energy used yearly by a two-person household.
What can we do? A lot. Simply stop using plastic bags, straws and be mindful of packaging. Got your bags in the car and forgot to bring them in? I do that too. But, one student reminded me to reverse bag: put all items into your cart, take to your car and bag them there. When I only have one or two items I tell the cashier that “zero waste is coming. No thanks, I don’t need a bag.”
Got any great ideas for zero waste? Let me know. Thanks. Judith
Plant saving, plant preservation for future generations are just two of the goals for United Plant Savers. Those of us in the herbal field rely on their up to date ‘at risk’ and ‘to watch’ plant list. Rosemary Gladstar and other concerned herbalists created an organization that was/is deeply concerned about the depletion of our plant populations. They began twenty -five years ago, in 1994, when herbalism experienced a resurgence. Many wild plants hit the airwaves like St John’s Wort and others creating intense demand. These grass root herbalists took their concerns, created UpS, United Plant Savers, and put those concerns into action.
In Rutland Ohio, the first UpS sponsored botanical sanctuary was born where species like American Ginseng, Goldenseal and others are propagated and replanted all over the country. Today many sanctuaries exist all over our country including personal backyards all the way to well known botanical gardens, all striving to propagate, educate their communities on the importance of respecting and using plants with mindfulness to species needs.
UpS also offers the opportunity to apply for grant money to fund your community project. It worked for me. Two years ago, with the grant money awarded to the Garden Path Garden Club in Tolland CT, we created the Turtle Teaching Circle. With parents help and students, a 20′ diameter circle was placed near the children’s garden with 12 stumps marking the places on a typical native American Wheel. Each place on the wheel has a trail quality sign featuring an ‘at-risk’ or ‘to-watch’ plant native to New England. The project is near a community trail with easy handicap access. Students are taught about gardening and seed saving.
We still see a decrease in plant populations due to popularity. I have been to the sanctuary in Rutland Ohio. Meadows and woodlands, forest and trails highlight the diverse habitats needed to preserve ‘at-risk- plants and more. They offer classes in herbalism with experts guiding foraging experiences that are respectful of habitat, plant-specific needs, and place in complex ecosystems. Sustainable regenerative gardening practices are key to the survival of our plants.
I hope you will go to their website and explore their articles, their resources and maybe get to one of their events. They will be honored and highlighted at this year’s International Herb Symposium in MA. If you use herbal supplements and garden, add another herb to your planting list this year to conserve our plant resources. If you use herbal supplements and don’t garden, please consider a donation to UpS.
I have been a member off and on for these past 25 years. We are activists, environmentalists, herbalists, folks who simply care about this earth and her resources, each in his or her own way. Check them out. This is a fantastic time for the organization, a time of honoring the work done and where and how we need to focus today on our journey, our partnership with the earth.
Description: This is exciting! Folks out there are working diligently every day to protect, build and maintain viable healthy ecosystems and produce food. Meet Mark Shepard who founded Restoration Agriculture Development, RAD, in order to save viable ecosystems while growing nutrient-rich food. His approach with his team is to imitate the structure and function of the specific ecosystem’s natural plant communities while utilizing the appropriate agroforestry and water management techniques to produce an agricultural yield. While restoring carbon sequestration, water purification, and infiltration, nutrient cycling occurs while supporting, maintaining and preserving biodiversity. Individually, taking steps to support biodiversity, adds up to big results. I am excited to learn more about how company’s like Mark’s educate and support better agriculture development and maintain various ecosystems we desperately need today. This is hopeful, positive progress. Please share!
About My guest: Mark Shepard with RAD: Restoration Agricultural Development:
RAD is a full-service environmental consulting, research, and development firm committed to developing agricultural ecosystems that provide nutritious food for humankind while enhancing the life-supporting ecosystem services of planet Earth. Mark Shepard has over 30 years of experience in environmental consulting, production agriculture, and real estate development. Together, RAD has worked on 100+ projects in multiple climates across 4 continents. Through active ecosystem management, RAD combines ecological restoration with agricultural development to improve your landscape.
Transcript: #46 Mark Shepard (1)