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Notes from the Farm

Posted 11/21/2007 12:20am by Leaf Myczack.

It seems that each day more bad news is reaching us that indicates the global climate crisis is steadily worsening. As we humans push past the planet's biologically sustainable threshold with our species overpopulation, widespread deforestation, rampant pollution and excessive use of fossil fuels, the normal weather patterns are being thrown into disarray. Our overall climate condition seems to be shifting from benign to hostile as witnessed by the exceptional drought we are currently experiencing.

While there are a few things we can do to lessen the negative impacts on the overall global climate, there is much more we can do on the local level to create positive climate improvements. These landscaping-type activities are referred to as creating beneficial micro-climates. We also have the ability to create hostile micro-climates if we fail to keep the big picture front and center in our long term planning.

Some simple examples of beneficial micro-climates are; a grove of shade trees in an open field, a pond, the shady side of your house, a rock pile, and a hedge or vegetated fence row. Local examples of hostile micro-climates are paved parking lots and driveways, non-shaded exposed rooftops, outdoor fires, and plowed or scraped earth. What all these examples have in common is the ability to measurably raise or lower, soil moisture, humidity and temperature in a given space, making it different from the overall ambient humidity and temperature surrounding the area of micro-climate.

Beneficial micro-climates assist in the process of propagating bio-diversity and promoting life, whereas hostile micro-climates restrict or diminish life.

The two cycles we are working with to naturally moderate local climate conditions are the rain cycle, and the wind cycle (which steers the rain cycle). It is learned through observation that extreme plant damage from drought and freeze is primarily caused by wind exposure. Other farmers have also observed that ground crops protected by tall grasses (or "weeds") are significantly less damaged than their more exposed counterparts, all other factors being equal. This would suggest that something as simple as a patch of tall grass or tall plants, acting as a wind brake, could be the difference between plant survival or plant loss.

Here on the farm we use every opportunity to create beneficial micro-climates. The cumulative impacts from this work are readily seen in the lush pockets of vegetation, the abundance of biodiversity, and the pleasant conditions created. We can leave a hot, dry area of the farm and go to a cooler, more moist area and be refreshed, both physically and spiritually. During a drought situation, this coming into this body-mind balance is especially needed to ward off anxiety and depression.

We have a twofold purpose when we do restoration work on our eleven acres. One is to renew the land through thoughful stewardship, answering the needs of the land in order to meet our own needs. The other is to renew the primal spirit through positive conscious interaction with all the natural components of our farm. To be master gardeners in co-creating an environment that is both biologically wholesome and functional.

When we dig a pond, we don't just bring water to the land. We bring an element capable of supporting a wide array of both aquatic and terrestrial life, which in turn supports a larger circle of life. When the pond goes dry, the life it supported disappears and the empty hole becomes a hostile and barren micro-climate. The only difference between a lake and a desert is the water! This is why we work so hard to keep the rainwater in the ponds.

(to be continued next wednesday Nov. 28th)