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Permaculture-It's all tied together

Posted 3/5/2008 8:47am by Leaf Myczack.

I am back on the farm after a two week absence. During my time in southern Virginia, I was receiving treatment for a chronic health problem using Traditional Chinese Medicine. The results have been most encouraging, and more specifically, it is giving me a means of participating actively in my own health restoration.

In my last blog (#20), I talked about healing both the farm and the farmer. My body, like the original farm, had been pushed into a state of long-term non-viability due to unsustainable conditions. For the farm, it centered around the depletion of soil-based nutrients and a lack of surface water. For the farmer, the challenge was an uncontrolled production of white blood cells. Modern industrial chemistry had a "quick-fix" treatment for both conditions. For the farm it was the application of toxic (to the soil) synthetic fertilizers; for my body it was toxic chemotherapy. Both approaches were fraught with potential negative outcomes, and both approaches were rejected.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is very aligned with the philosophy that guides organic farming and gardening. Conditions that negatively affect the health of the soil or the body have been in place for a long time. Turning those conditions around can not be accomplished overnight. They require a long-term disciplined approach that seeks to restore balance and good health to the whole organism, not just a small portion or part thereof. It requires a willingness to change behavior and diet. Both soil and body need to be fed the proper "food" that restores and maintains good health.

All through the winter we have been manuring and mulching areas of the farm. This is the third year we have carried on this activity. Each year we see a gradual but steady improvement in both the soil condition and the fertility of the land. Most noteable is the feel of the land underfoot. No longer is it hard and unyielding, but rather it has taken on the more spongy feel of loose earth. With a good, steady rainfall amount so far this year, we are anticipating a good Spring bloom of vegetation.

We do not subscribe to the practice of annually having the soil chemically analyzed by a contract lab. Rather we have learned to walk the farm and feel the heart of the land beneath our feet. We pick up a handful of soil and feel it and smell it, and let it run through our fingers. We examine what grows here and what grows there to help determine the state of fertility. We do not treat one area at the expense of another, but factor in how improvement to one area affects the overall health of the entire farm. In short, we are attuned to the energy of the whole farm.

And so it is with TCM. Rather than look at just one aspect of the body, healers are trained to view the body as a whole interconnected organism and work to restore balance throughout. It seems so obvious, but western medicine has fragmented the body into seemingly unrelated parts. Specialists which focus on one particular aspect of the body now dominate the conventional approach to wellness. Each practioner is in effect, removed from the whole-body approach by adherence to only his / her area of expertise. It is similar to the conventional farmer claiming soybeans or corn growing as the only type of farming expertise, while ignoring or being ignorant of the broader soil and plant communities.

If you would like to explore the holistic concept of healing / farming in more depth, you may email me with your request. I am available to share my experiences in both areas.


-farmer leaf