Sustaining environment

This land is your land, this land is my land

by Sister Bernadette Prochaska 
Editing assistance from Sister Lucy Slinger 

A bee, a bee, a little bee. A few acres of land in the wilderness. These are small elements in a vast universe, and yet, the small regenerative practices we accomplish in sustaining our environment depict a warm, loving, healthy relationship we have with our Earth. In recent years, more individuals and corporations have studied ways to give new life to our earthly home. I am reminded of friends who have made a difference in sustainability, even though the practices are not overwhelming.

Velma Haag in a bee suit tending to bee farm

A friend of mine, Velma Haag (pictured), writing from the wilderness near Wisconsin Dells, tells of such efforts to bring genuine health to the land. “This past winter, we harvested out the trees in the back 15 acres that were not indigenous or were reaching their peak before dying. It was stunning how much wood came down, yet how much remained. Now we are watching to see what will grow in its place, though we may do some spot planting based on what our forester thinks will be the next natural phase of this particular woods.”


"Land, then, is not merely soil; it is a fountain of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plants and animals.” 
- Aldo Leopold,  “A Sand County Almanac”


An organic garden was a must for regenerating land. Velma also describes her practice. “My garden is a primary focus in my endeavors to keep things natural. The 40-by-40 foot garden I’ve created is what is called a “lasagna garden” or a layered garden. The concept is to build strong soil, keep weeding to a minimum, and not use any chemicals to enhance plant growth or fight pests (neither weeds nor bugs). I do so every year by laying a base of cardboard over last year’s garden, then layers of compost, hay, leaves, and more hay. I let that “cook” for some time before I plant. The process breaks down to a nutritious soil base, with hay on the top serving as mulch to limit the weeds and hold in the moisture. It looks a fright but sure does produce.” 

Velma has also discovered bees to be a marvelous natural resource. “My bees are certainly the fascination of my life. I have three hives. One is in that garden and two in the meadow in the woods. The honey from these hives was exceptional last year. The bees certainly do a job with the pollination of the trees and plants. My gardens have been notably productive since the introduction of the bees. I can only think that the area around us has been affected by their presence as well. And of course, there are so many varieties of wild bees that do the majority of the pollinating everywhere.”

What miracles there are in various practices which assist in the sustainability and regeneration of a marvelously, healthy Earth that we love so much. 

Want to learn more about healthy soil?
Watch “Aggregate Stability” produced by the National Center for Appropriate Technology.
Visit SoilsAlive, Health & Wellness for Lawn & Landscape.

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