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Resilience ~ the ability of people or things to recover quickly

January 8, 2022

Resilience ~ the ability of people or things to recover quickly

Building resilience with the help of nature

Resilience – When a Word Finds You

Do you make New Year resolutions, or lists of goals or aspirations you’d like to achieve over the coming year? This year the word resilience found me, and over the following few paragraphs, I’ll be sharing with you why it’s such an important word.

Several years ago some friends and I talked about finding a word to guide us through the coming months. I don’t recall which of us suggested it, but the idea was to come up with a single word, not a sentence or several. A word that might be more achievable than a list. Since then we’ve begun each year with a new word that appealed to us, and have shared and explained their reasonings. I don’t recall any of my previous words, but this year, 2022, when I was hoofing along the road on an unseasonably warm 1st January to start the  #100daysofwalking challenge, a word jumped into my mind so forcefully it was hard to ignore. Resilience. This year my word has found me.  


The American Psychological Association (APA) defines resilience as:

“the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands.” It supports the notion that resilience can be cultivated and practiced with the necessary resources and skills”

Resilience isn’t something we are born with, it’s something we learn to develop and practice and I like the way it can be woven and adapted to our needs. I’ve used the word many times in my work life. It was introduced to me by Cultivate at Cloughjordan Eco Village and as a result I used to think of it in terms of helping to educate people to become more food secure, growing fruit and vegetables, developing communities, readying ourselves for dramatic climate changes that many are already beginning to experience. Nowadays, I’ve realised there’s a lot more to resilience.

So much of the way we live is out of our control. We can stress about that, ultimately making ourselves emotionally or physically unwell, or we can learn to live with it.

A nature walk to build resilienceI’ve spent recent years in a permanent state of self-induced stress as I’ve juggled with life as a self employed wife and mother, and unfortunately the results are beginning to show themselves. However, during my daily walks at this quiet time of year, I’ve realised that emotional resilience is something tangible I can work on. It’s important not to let this word slide through my fingers as I awaken from my winter slumber.

I can look after, care for and be gentle with myself.  I can give myself permission to take the time to do this. I can learn to say no and listen to my inner voice.

I’m grateful that a break over the festive season has given me the time to acknowledge this, and that grateful is a word I was leaning towards at the later end of 2021. Perhaps one word naturally leads to another.

As a parent I distinctly remember the feeling of shock and alarm when an air hostess instructed passengers to put our own masks on first in case of emergency. That simple instruction flew across every maternal instinct as I sat in my airplane seat holding our first born baby in my arms, on his way to meet his extended family for the first time. Yet, it was probably the most sound piece of advice I’ve been given. If we don’t have oxygen, how can we survive to help others?  We have to put ourselves first in order to care for others. There should be no shame in it.

UK charity MIND describes developing emotional resilience as:

“Taking steps to look after your wellbeing can help you deal with pressure, and reduce the impact that stress has on your life. This is sometimes called developing emotional resilience.

Resilience is not just your ability to bounce back, but also your capacity to adapt in the face of challenging circumstances, whilst maintaining a stable mental wellbeing. Resilience isn’t a personality trait – it’s something that we can all take steps to achieve.” 

The past couple of years have been immensely stressful for many, has anyone been left untouched by this global pandemic? And with a climate crisis bubbling away with increasing pressure, it’s unlikely that life will return to that as we once knew it. Those of us who’ve been involved with the environmental movement, be it for 50 years or 5, are going to feel the strain even more. I believe we’ll hear more voices from people like NASA climate scientist  Peter Kalmus, or the scientist in the satirical Netflix film ‘Don’t Look Up’ who shouted at anyone who would listen “We are trying to tell you that the entire planet is about to be destroyed”

We are all going to need to develop every ounce of resilience to deal with what’s coming.

The past couple of years have made me realise how much we experience is out of our control. Yet, if we let it, if we listen and trust, find a balance in life and work, allow time for ourselves, share our feelings and stop beating ourselves up for mistakes, we can learn and adjust and adapt. We can build our resilience and as we do so, we can become stronger.

We will be in a better position to face what’s coming, and unlike the comet that’s hurtling towards the planet in Don’t Look Up, we might just be in a position to stop, which is not yet the inevitable.

How is your resilience? Are you up for working on it too?

Green

Tackling Climate Change at COP21, Paris 2015

December 6, 2015

COP21 Paris 2015

We’re just over half way through the 12 day COP21 negotiations in Paris and headlines have filtered through my timeline every day about the summit.

As Ireland and the UK bathe in the aftermath of torrential rain following storm after storm, climate change is very much on our minds.  Can world leaders agree to tackle rising temperatures and stop the planet tipping into the danger zone caused by the globe warming? Keep reading to see some of the highlights of this years COP21.

First Up – What is COP?

If you’re not sure what COP21 is about, basically it follows on from the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 where politicians agreed to adopt a UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Twenty three years ago at the Earth Summit, a framework for action was set with the aim of stabilising greenhouse gases (GHGs) to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” This came into force in 1994 and as a result, membership of the UNFCCC now stands at around 190 parties.

Since the first UNFCCC annual Conference of Parties (COP) began in Berlin in 1995 with the aim of reviewing the Convention’s implementation, other meetings have taken place including COP3 when the Kyoto Protocol was adopted, COP11 where the Montreal Action Plan was enacted and COP17 in Durban where the Green Climate Fund was created.

Why is COP21 so important?

Since COP negotiations began over 20 years ago, decisions have not been legally binding. One of the aims of the 2015 COP21 therefore is to change that and crucially, to agree to somehow keep global warming below 2ºC. If the planet warms above that figure, the results could be catastrophic to our planet.

What’s happened at COP21 so far?

Live coverage and updates surrounding this years summit can be found on the COP21 website whilst Grist have published a post with the 5 key developments. Mashable are live blogging summaries throughout the 12 day summit:

The most powerful climate quotes from the first day of COP21 in Paris http://on.mash.to/1Ps3hEe

Posted by Mashable News on Tuesday, 1 December 2015

On Saturday, 5th December it was announced that negotiators had adopted a draft climate agreement. However, we have to wait and see whether ministers from around the world will agree to implement the agreement before the end of this week. If they do, will we then begin to see the phasing out of fossil fuels, one of the contributors to global warming?

If you’ve missed what’s happened during the negotiations, you can catch up here:

Several initiatives have been launched at COP21, including transport:

buildings and construction:

 and commitments made to reduce black carbon, methane and HFCs:

Delegates at COP21 have heard some encouraging stories from smaller countries such as Uruguay in relation to emissions:

Though back home in Ireland we’ve been left worrying that our political leaders aren’t taking Climate Change seriously enough.

We’re also being encouraged by UNICEF to let ministers worldwide know how much we want to see changes, by signing this global petition:

It’s reassuring to hear that the youth of the world aren’t ready to throw in the towel yet:

And that soil health is uppermost in the minds of many:

One of my favourite quotes was from UNESCO who believe that changing minds through education is key – something I’ve thought for a long while:

Astronauts who’ve been watching the effects of climate change from afar are encouraging world leaders to make the right decisions at COP21…

… while the rest of the world watches on, waiting until the end of the week to hear whether agreements are made. My own and I’m sure many others thoughts are silently echoing Ban Ki-moon’s:

If you want to keep up-to-date with the negotiations and agreements in Paris, search the hashtag #COP21 for live content and news on twitter, keep an eye out on any of the websites linked, or check back to the Greenside Up blog next weekend when I’ll update this post and let you know the outcome.

UPDATE

The outcomes of COP21 can be found on the United Nations Framework for Climate Change website here.

 

Photo credit: I’ve got the whole world in my hand via photopin (license)

Green

FACT: Climate Change is Happening ~ What Can We Do?

April 13, 2014
The Greatest Threat to Earth

Credit: Emilys Quotes

As news of the recent  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report filters into our news stream and the realisation that time is running out for us to adapt to the massive changes in climate that will become our norm, my mind has turned to lawnmowers. Yes, those innocuous little machines that millions of us push or steer up and down our gardens on sunny days in a never-ending battle against nature.

The new IPCC report, where 1200 scenarios from scientific literature were analysed, show that global emissions of greenhouse gases have risen to unprecedented levels despite a growing number of policies to reduce climate change, with emissions growing more quickly between 2000 and 2010 than in each of the three previous decades. 

We’ve known for years that our dependence on fossil fuels has to change and that we’re going to have to alter our lifestyles as global warming and climate extremes begin to affect us all, but have we been sticking our heads in the sand? How did emissions grow so quickly when we knew there were problems up ahead? Cutting emissions from electricity production to near zero is commonly featured in the report’s scenarios. But using energy efficiently is also important.

So how can we make a difference? Where, individually, do we begin?

It strikes me that we have to start with a change in mindset and shake away some habits and beliefs of old, before the planet decides it’s fed up waiting for us, and strips them away fast.

Many of us are caught in fossil fuel traps that we can’t see our way out of. Thanks to the economic downturn, we can’t afford to change our cars to more fuel-efficient models however much we’d like to; public transport doesn’t exist for rural dwellers and solar panels are a pipe dream when we’re struggling to pay our day-to-day bills. We’ve switched to energy-efficient light bulbs, turned down the heating and we’re saving water which is all well and good, we’re doing our bit, but what else can we do? Surely it’s up to our governments and policy makers to see us through and make the right decisions for us?

Maybe not entirely. It’s easy to throw our hands up and think that our reliance on fossil fuels is someone else’s problem, but it’s not. We have to take responsibility for our actions and choices, both in our business’ and our homes.

So with that in mind, my eyes have turned to our trusty lawnmower.

We’ve been thinking about the redundant area that is our lawn for a while but it was following my recent visit to the eco village of Cloughjordan, a lawn free environment, that our lawnmower’s days became numbered. It didn’t worry me that the naturalised grasses growing between the houses there were knee-high because, as a chemical free gardener, I was too busy thinking what a fantastic place it was for wildlife and beneficial insects to live in too. Being in a lawn free zone made me question our own lawn making habits.

In our garden that was fashioned from a farmer’s field, we sowed a tough grass seed lawn “for our children”, yet the reality is that kids enjoy hiding in long grass, making secret dens away from the adults. Now they’re older they have sports pitches in the village they’re throwing, kicking or hitting balls around in every week, they’re hardly ever in our garden sitting on the lawn!

Irish CornflowerAs I was trundling my petrol driven lawnmower up and down once again, having locked it in the shed for the past six months, I was thinking about the fuel it was using and the time and effort it takes to cut the grass every week, and I wondered why we do it? How or why did this lawn mowing fashion begin? Was it some unconscious desire to prove we can tame nature or was it just because a perfectly clipped lawn ‘looks good’?

I grew up in a house with a lawn, all my neighbours had lawns, when I was renting I dreamt about a house with a lawn so it was by default that when we bought a house we’d sow one. A lawn looks pretty when it’s just been mowed, it’s the socially acceptable thing to do and that makes us feel good but on reflection, gazing at a field full of wildflowers can provoke a much deeper emotional response from many of us than admiring a stripey green lawn.

Mixed WildflowersAs a result of our realisation that mowing a lawn is a complete waste of time and energy, Mr G and I are now deliberating over the alternatives, which include:

1. Buy a couple of lambs to graze it, with a view to them finding their way into the (A rated) deep freeze.

Pink Wildflower2. Extend the veg garden and grow a lot more vegetables.

3. Buy a couple of piglets and let them turn the grass over so that in the long-term we can..

4. Plant a wildflower garden.

We haven’t decided yet. I think we may have to dig out the self-sufficiency books, put pen to paper with a few ideas. But whatever happens, the lawnmower will not be used as much as it once was. For the moment it’ll be pulled out of the shed to mow the paths between the vegetable beds, with the clippings used as a mulch, until we widen the beds and make them even more productive.

Wildflower MeadowWhat’s important right now is that we make changes to our behaviour, however small and seemingly inconsequential. We have to consider the impact we’re having on the environment, the landscape around us and how much we’re contributing to global warming and climate change.

What do you think? Could you ditch the lawnmower or have you already done so and have never looked back?

* The Press Release released today from Working Group III of the IPCC can be viewed here.

 

Green

Community Food Schemes – Time to Make Changes?

April 6, 2014
Essex Landscape ~ Photo Credit: Martin Pettitt

Essex Landscape ~ Photo Credit: Martin Pettitt

How do you feel about large supermarkets these days? I’ve become increasingly frustrated with them and in particular since the pre-Christmas price wars that once again highlighted the fact that since their arrival in our slightly out-of-town shopping centres with their free parking, that village and town high streets have been slowly boarding up their windows and closing down.

It niggles me that supermarkets manipulate us to buy certain goods, that we repeatedly fall for their wiley ways, and that ultimately what we’ve gained in the convenience of being able to buy everything on our shopping lists under the one roof, we’ve lost by our village and town high streets losing their souls.

Rural Life

A big chunk of my childhood was spent growing up in a village store in a rural area of south-east of England. For years, Mum got up at dawn and for 6 days a week headed to one of the cold, draughty outbuildings in the 200-year-old property that was part of our shop and home. She’d take delivery of the piles of newspapers that were delivered, ensuring they were ready for the paper boys and girls to sort and post through doors before they headed on to school. On Sundays Dad and I completed the entire paper round delivery, giving mum and the rest of the gang and well needed lie-in.

During the weekdays, Dad would head off for work and Mum would walk with us down the long, quiet lanes past the fields of potato pickers to our school, before heading back home and opening up the shop. She’d spend the day chatting with customers, listening to all the village gossip, its highs and woes, and often times just being a point of contact for isolated men and women. When Mum locked the doors at night, she came in to the kitchen, lit the fires, prepared a home cooked dinner, before sending us off to bed to give her some quiet time to attend to the shop accounts, staff wages and other associated paperwork that are part and parcel of small business life.

Photo credit: Angus Kirk

Photo credit: Angus Kirk

Mum sold everything from fruit, veg, meat, bread, stationary, sweets, groceries, slippers, cement and kerosene and our weekly family outing was to the cash and carry. Mum was  renowned for her home baked ham. My Dad also drove a van full of food around the village once a week, so that people without transport could top up their cupboards, offering an early model of food delivery that was commonplace back then. Ours was a typical village in its time, with a doctor’s surgery, a police station, a bakery, school, pub, church and post-office, as well as a mixture of council and privately owned properties. I learnt a lot about hard work and the importance of communities, growing up in the hive of one.

On reflection my upbringing is probably the key to what makes me so passionate about community now and my gives me the drive to help make necessary changes that might ensure our children’s survival over the coming years as we face the uncertainties of food sovereignty in a warming environment..

However, this isn’t a post about my childhood or the big, bold supermarkets that have become our blessing and our curse. It’s about a movement that’s rippling across Ireland that with our help, can make significant changes to the way we approach food and to individually become involved with the nexus way of thinking mentioned a short while ago on world water day. This post shares a few ideas about something we can do to claw back some of the best parts of a community lifestyle – the companionship and our relationship with food from producers to smaller shops and ultimately us, the consumers.

CSA Conference, Cloughjordan

Photo credit: Oliver Moore

At the weekend a group of very committed people travelled from afar to share experiences and knowledge at the third CSA conference held in Cloughjordan Eco village.

Expertly facilitated by Davie Philips, we came together to talk about real, honest to goodness food in the form of community assisted agriculture (CSA), community food co-ops, community food buying schemes, community shops and community gardens.

If this is a new way of thinking to you and not something you’ve come across before, here’s a quick run down of just a few of the projects that are currently being run in Ireland that might give you ideas to initiate or get involved with in your area.

Cloughjordan Eco Village Hostel Menu

Cloughjordan Eco Village Hostel Menu

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Cloughjordan eco village were the first community I heard of that practice this model of producing food for the people, and are by no means the only one. If you’re interested in finding out more, their community farm runs tours and training events to promote and educate others about setting up and operating their own CSA.

The concept of a CSA projects is very simple. Instead of going to a shop and paying for your provisions as you need them, when you become a member of a CSA you pay a regular contribution (sometimes upfront) that covers the wages of the growers as well as the running costs and admin of the operation. In return, food is delivered to a central point for you to collect.

The food is fresh, it’s seasonal and the producers care passionately, not only about the sustainability of the farm and produce (in Cloughjordan’s case, the food is grown biodynamically and organically) but about growing the most optimally nutritious food they possibly can that hasn’t been diluted by industrialisation.

As a consumer and member of a CSA, you have the challenge of eating and cooking seasonally throughout the year, but the knowledge of exactly where your food has come from and how it was grown with no packaging, retail and very few transportation costs. You might even have given a few hours helping the farm out at a busy time and you’re certainly able to watch your food growing, but not have the worry of growing it yourself.

rocketCommunity Co-ops/Groceries and Food Buying Schemes

The essence of a co-operative is that the business is owned by and run for the benefit of its members (and not directors and shareholders). Membership is made up of both the consumers who shop there and the workers who work there. Membership is open to all.

Dublin has an established food co-op and Oliver Moore recently shared the story in his blog of Limerick Community Grocery’s journey. It’s early days for them but the fact that the group involved with the project in Limerick are hoping to make their’s the first cooperative city, is inspirational.

Community Food Buyer Schemes

These schemes work on the premise that buying in bulk is cheaper. By pooling their buying power and ordering food in bulk direct from suppliers, a group of people can buy good food at a more affordable prices.

Small food co-ops or buying groups work by collecting together everyone’s orders in advance, other models are run more like food businesses and order the produce from suppliers and then sell it to their customers via stalls, bag or box schemes, mobile stores, shops or other types of outlet. OOOBY’s would be an example of this scheme working well, with one in operation in Wicklow at Carriag Dulra Permaculture and Organic Farm for some time now.

Community gardens

Community gardens are usually small food gardens where the work and the resulting produce is shared. They’re generally too small to provide food for all the gardeners to take home or to set up box schemes, but they’re good social spaces that encourage and educate people about food and in particular vegetable growing. People can learn how to grow their own food in community gardens and take the knowledge home with them and replicate it, or they can just drop in and get their hands dirty, happy that they are at least connecting with the soil on a weekly basis. Community gardens can be incubation tanks for other projects such as those mentioned above and are increasingly being used to teach people how to create small, social enterprise projects.

Meet the CheesemakersSlow food

This is a non-profit member supported organisation that showcases sustainable agriculture and artisan food production, connecting producers with consumers, often educating the public where food comes from, how it’s produced and helping to create positive social change. Keith Bohanna of Biabeag has been working with Highbank Organic Orchards recently to hold regular “meet the food producer” slots that have been very popular. At these events small food producers honestly share the highs and lows of their profession and passion. As the community gardeners I worked with found out at Savour Kilkenny Food Festival last year, when consumers connect with food producers, we’re much more likely to buy from them.

CSA Conference Outcomes

There are many more initiatives happenings round the country and one of the outcomes of the CSA conference is that a list will be made of all the known ones that we will be able to find and link into.  If there isn’t a food co-op, CSA or community garden near you, an opportunity to create one is being encouraged.

Get involved

Duncan Stewart at CSA Conference Photo Credit: Bruce Darrell aka @cjredgardens

Duncan Stewart at CSA Conference Photo Credit: Bruce Darrell aka @cjredgardens

TV presenter Duncan Stewart is spearheading a “Get involved” campaign with local newspapers, a local sustainable community initiative that will encourage every community to become more food or energy aware. The scheme hopes that projects will link up and to a certain extent, compete with one another, and that all the knowledge learnt can be shared.

The Get Involved campaign will give every one of us the opportunity to become more connected at community level and offer us the chance to take back some control over what we eat and how it’s produced.

It will only work if we do as the campaign title suggests and “get involved”. I for one, am really looking forward to hearing more and supporting the community gardens I work with to come up with ideas for this initiative and I hope you will too. I would love to see a CSA scheme set up in my own area but whether it happens or not will depend upon the will of the people.

So what do you think? Am I living in the romantic past or do you think we have it in us to take back control of our food systems in time to survive the challenges global warming will throw at us? We live on a small island with a small population that’s more than capable of feeding itself. Have we got it in us to do it, to make the necessary changes and to reconnect with our food?

photo credit: Martin Pettitt via photopin cc
photo credit: Anguskirk via photopin cc

Green

Could Urban Agriculture Ensure Our Survival?

September 20, 2013

Is Urban Agriculture the answer?

Urban Farming

Photo Credit: www.cityfarmer.info.jpg

‘Urban agriculture’ is a phrase we’re hearing a lot recently, alongside ‘Community Assisted Agriculture’ and ‘Food Security’, but have you ever thought about what they mean?

As a rural dweller I can’t say I’d spent too much time thinking about urban agriculture in particular, so attending a recent Urban Agriculture conference at NUI Maynouth was quite an eye opener.

When Professor Yokohari took to the stage and began to share stories about the disasters his country has suffered throughout the centuries, including earthquakes, fires and tsunamis, some of which have razed Japanese cities to the ground, all of a sudden urban agriculture begins to make complete sense.

Urban Agriculture in Tokyo

Photo Credit: www.maff.go.jp

Natural climate disasters of that magnitude aren’t anything we’ve had to contend with on our little island. We don’t live on land that’s perched on top of earthquake hotspots, mountains prone to landslides or volcanic eruptions that spew lava and ash for miles around. We’ve therefore never had to think much about what we’d do if we were suddenly without an infrastructure. Over the centuries we’ve got off lightly and I consider myself very lucky to be living where I do.

Urban Agriculture in Japan

Photo Credit: www.cityfarmer.info

However, with the temperatures on the planet warming and climate change stirring up the global pot, not only are weather patterns already changing, there’s talk of sea levels rising more significantly than we first thought.

I recently read that if the Western Atlantic ice sheet collapses faster than was first predicted, sea levels may rise by as much as seven metres within the next 100 years (when many of us would expect to have grandchildren alive). That’s an unprecedented amount of flooding for our future generations to cope with and as a parent, a scenario I’d rather not think about. We can’t ignore the fact that the climate is changing, that more extreme weather events are occurring, that the ice sheets and glaciers are melting faster than we’d like and that unless scientists have got their predictions way, way off the mark, they’re going to continue to do so.

Photo credit: www.independent.ie

Photo credit: www.independent.ie

When the cold winter of 2010/11 hit Ireland, in less than a week supermarket shelves were looking bare as planes were unable to land on runways and roads were closed, leaving lorry loads of groceries unable to reach out-of-town stores. Thankfully the cold snap didn’t last long but imagine for a minute if it had….

How would we cope if suddenly all the roads and rail lines coming out of Dublin were gone? Just one large natural or man made disaster could leave us without our basic provisions within a very short period of time. 75% of Ireland’s glasshouse crops and 50% of our national vegetable output are grown in Fingal, North Dublin – that would leave many communities around the country hungry if the food was unable to be transported to them.

Urban Agriculture

Photo Credit: www.theurbangrocer.com

 

It alarms me that we’re so unprepared to fend for ourselves, that we live such unsustainable lives, but then we’ve never had to behave any differently.

 

So what is urban agriculture and what can we learn from the Japanese?

In Tokyo 1.5% of agriculture still exists within the city. In areas that we normally associate with finance and retail, business and inner city living there are 6,500 farming households, each farming on average just 0.14 ha. Rice and brassica fields are planted between skyscrapers and rooftop allotments have long waiting lists. But these aren’t just unpaid hobby farmers, many charge for their produce and are now known as semi professional farmers; a large percentage of them are over the age of retirement. Professor Yokohari’s research shows that urban hobby farmers are producing 9.1kg/m2/year whilst professional farmers harvest 6.2 kg/m2/year – they’re not figures to be dismissed lightly.

Most western town and city planners don’t allow for crops to be grown within their confines. In the densely populated cities of Japan however, food crops are sprouting in fertile land all around. People are not only earning a living farming in their cities, they also know that if disaster strikes elsewhere in their country, they can fend for themselves until infrastructures are repaired – they are unlikely to go hungry.

Community Orchard

Photo Credit: www.news.cambridgeppf.org

Back home in Ireland

Given that grow your own, allotments and community gardening are still a hobby for the minorities, we can’t expect miracles but we can do something that will begin to introduce communities to more sustainable ways of thinking.

Instead of walking past an overgrown eyesore, imagine popping into a community orchard and picking your own apples, pears or plums off the trees.

Creating a community orchard would be a simple step in sustainability and in all likelihood would attract grants or donations as well as volunteers to help plant the trees. If every household in a neighbourhood committed to buying and planting just one tree, the size of the orchard would only be limited by space.

It’s not a new idea, urban orchards have been planted in several cities, but it works. Okay, we can’t all live off apples but it would be a start and we all know that planting trees is great for the environment so it’s a win win all around. From an orchard might come a community harvest, then community pressing and juicing and perhaps preserving or cider making. We might celebrate our efforts by sharing food and perhaps a dance and from there more ideas might spawn as we realise how much we can achieve when we work together and support one another.

Some might argue that the simple act of planting an orchard is too little, we need to do more, faster, but without the experiences the Japanese have faced, we don’t feel that sense of urgency. It takes years and a different mindset to create a culture of growth like they’ve done. It takes years for a tree to reach maturity.

Isn’t it time we stopped thinking about ourselves and cast our minds to the future? Our day-to-day worries and concerns can’t be ignored, they’re real and they’re now and many of us are struggling to survive economic hardships. However, the warnings about our heating globe are becoming more urgent. We need to get our heads out of the sand and start thinking about our future generations, our children and theirs.

It’s time we stopped ignoring the warnings and started to plant the seeds of change.

If you’d like help or advice on planting an orchard, contact me here and I’ll do my best to help you or put you in touch with somebody who can.

Green

Gardens & Greens 3 ~ environment & gardening news roundup

February 2, 2013

News from the Eco and Gardening WorldThis week I spotted so many interesting news articles and links in the environmental/gardening world, it was difficult to choose which ones to share with you.

In the end I’ve chosen a mixture of seven links and hope that a few at least may be of interest, starting with some light reading about the shrub Sea Buckthorn.

Sea Buckthorn

www.happyfarming.com

Also known as Siberian Pineapple, this isn’t a shrub I’m overly familiar with so read with interest that the berries are full of health giving properties. It seems it’s a hardy plant and will grow easily in most places, from windy to coastal areas. If you’re thinking of growing Sea Buckthorn do bear in mind it’s very thorny (so would be great if you’re trying to deter people from climbing into your garden, but not so good if you’ve children with footballs that will be constantly punctured or if you’re trying to pick the berries!).

Al Gore Publishes New Book “The Future”

I have a lot of respect for Al Gore and his efforts to tackle the issues surrounding climate change. His first book, an Inconvenient Truth had a huge impact in my life, not least because it highlighted how people can really can make a difference once informed and motivated. When we changed our shopping habits and stopped buying aerosols containing CFCs, the hole in the ozone layer reduced. I was therefore delighted to see he’s published a new book, “The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change” which is now top of my book shopping list. Al talks about it here:

Hazardous Gene Discovered in GM Crops

I’ve written about GM in the past, raising my concerns not only about the science but also the lack of interest from the majority of the population. Alarm bells started ringing when I read this latest headline Hazardous Virus Gene Discovered in GM Crops After 20 Years. One of the main concerns for many who campaign against genetically modified food is the lack of research of long-term effects caused by genetic modification. These findings bring home those concerns. I’m always slightly wary of “news” in this field as there are a lot of contradictions around though it does appear to be substantiated if this article is anything to go by. Take a read and see what you think.

Tsunami Debris

Would you be shocked to discover that 30% of debris cleared up from Alaska beaches consisted of Styrofoam that had originated from the Japanese tsunami in 2011? I was. This polystyrene is an environmental disaster – it’s very difficult to clean up, animals and wildlife are eating it, and to cap it all it’s not biodegradable so could last forever – something to think about next time you’re arranging your flowers.

We are connected

Have you ever considered just how interconnected we are to the world we live in?  A thought-provoking post from Lindsay Abrahms writing for The Atlantic looks at the phenomena When Trees Die People Die. Lindsay finishes:

“There is something fascinatingly mysterious about the entanglement of our health with that of nature.”

Felled Trees Call For Help

Staying with the theme of trees, I was intrigued by the headline above from Mark Avery so had to give it a click. I don’t want to give the game away, just to say the story involved illegal logging and using technology we’re all very familiar with to track down the culprits – mobile phones!

 

photo credit: DCSL via photopin cc