Sustainability - learning ecological gardeningPage 2/4: Topic introduction
By helping the children to act in a responsible way towards the resources in the world you support them in developing sound, long-lasting and sustainable habits and behavior, and help them develop an understanding of the world and an incentive to respect nature.
Everything is interconnected
Try to think about the long history of nature around us.
Plants and animals have been here for thousands (millions) of years before humans began to make their influence. All those species that live today have survived because they have adapted to the changing environment and by finding their specific place in nature. All living things are interrelated and connected. Some plants can only get pollinated if there are insects around. Some plants can only grow in a specific environment of other plants, for example in the shadow of a tree. Some plants need lots of water, while others, like a cactus, can survive with an absolute minimum of water. Creepers need trees to grow on and some orchids need fungus to grow.
Biodiversity creates life
An important factor to all life is biodiversity, which means that there is a great number of plants and animals in the same area. Conventional modern farming is mainly based on monocultures with great areas of only one type of crop. This results in a low grade of biodiversity in the area and a great loss of plants species, insects and animals and an overall loss of natural balance and interconnectedness.
Nature is cyclical
The balance in nature is cyclical.
For example, a plant is growing from a sprout of seed, nurtured by water, sunlight and minerals from the soil in which it grows. After having produced and spread its own seeds, the plant can die and be decomposed by microbes and insects and eventually it becomes nutrition for the next sprouts of seeds. This cycle has been going on since the beginning of life on earth.
Another important cycle is the changing seasons. With some variations, the seasons follow each other year after year.
The above mentioned points about interconnectedness, biodiversity and cycles of nature has been true for millions of years, and is still true.
But something dramatically is happening. Since men started to cultivate the lands, more and more forests are being destroyed in order to clear large areas for agriculture, but at the same time natural habitats of thousands of both animal and plant species are being destroyed. More and more land is being turned into monocultures, and inorganic fertilizer has made the growth of some crops more efficient but is also polluting the soil and the underground water reserves.
One of the major changes in nature, gardening and farming in the past 50-100 years is the massive use of inorganic fertilizers and pesticides. Inorganic fertilizers are used instead of the natural fertilizers that plants and animals produce. It is very potent and effective, but it is disturbing the natural balance. Pesticides are used to eliminate unwanted plants and insects, but are destroying the biodiversity and poisoning the food and the soil.
Both artificial fertilizers and pesticides are produced and transported using a great amount of fossil fuels, which poison the planet and increase dangerous climate changes.