Reflection, Regeneration, Soil Food and Soul Food

We are of mixed emotions as we contemplate what lies ahead as the world, and we, begin to “re-enter” after such a long (never ending?) pandemic-imposed “pause” (upending?) from life as we once knew it.

On the one hand, we are giddy at the prospect of soon being able to put lockdowns behind us and to resume socializing and enjoying simply “being” together with others, in person. Oh joy!

Catherine is eager for Lucy’s summer visit to Toronto. Yippee!

It is when we turn our thoughts to the bigger picture and what does re-entry mean in terms of the health and well being of people and the planet that we become more circumspect and contemplative.

We wonder if the newfound connections with nature that many of us have embraced in our pandemic lockdown routines (e.g., daily walks/runs, hiking, biking, gardening, birding) will endure once life’s busyness and commuting return?

Will we continue to value and privilege time for slowing down, noticing and wondering? Being present. Receiving and appreciating nature’s generosity that is on offer if only we stop for a moment to take it in – sounds of birdsong and buzzing bees, gentle breezes carrying scents of forest pine needles or blossoming lilacs,  roses and herbs, fresh life-giving clean air and sheltering shade silently given by our tree canopies, sunshine, rainfall, moonlight, glistening dew drops on a spider’s web, the poetic motion of a gliding hawk or cloud floating by overhead, the might and majesty of a water fall, a gentle burbling brook, the rustle of wavy wheat, the marvel of no two snowflakes alike, nature’s riotous bounty of colour, transformational energy and nourishment to feed imaginations, stomachs, enterprises, to warm bodies, hearts and souls, to name but a few….

Will we make the time? Will we notice and be inspired, awed, humbled, energized, renewed? Will we “see” with appreciative eyes and keep bringing mindfulness to our daily life’s activities and choices, post-pandemic? We wonder…

There is lots of talk these days in the business and political news about ‘building back better,’ ‘clean/green renewal,’ and ‘carbon zero,’ and among individuals about the time given while alone with our thoughts during lockdown to reflecting on what’s important in life.  Are we in for an era of positive transformational change ahead? Might this be one silver lining from the pandemic – momentum at every level (personal, local, national, global) to take better care of our shared humanity and home on this beautiful planet earth? Let’s be optimistic, and inspired!

Soul Food

Friends4Trees4Life is a blog that is inspired by our commitment to take personal action on climate change, through tree planting.

As we have learned and grown, so too has the focus of our blogging expanded and evolved over time.

Trees, however, continue to be an important touchstone and central theme, in all aspects.

Photo credit Lucy

We take a moment to share a tree-inspired poem by Mary Oliver, as our ‘soul food’ first, before turning attention to the climate action topic of regeneration, the ‘soil food’ part of this blog post. Thank you to Audrey for sharing this poem and reminding us of the beauty of Mary Oliver’s poetry.

“When I am among the trees,

especially the willows and the honey locust,

equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,

they give off such hints of gladness.

I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,

in which I have goodness, and discernment,

and never hurry through the world

but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves

and call out, ‘Stay awhile.’

The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, ‘It’s simple,’ they say,

‘and you too have come

into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled

with light, and to shine.’ ”

MARY OLIVER 

“To save the world, start with a potato”

Photo credit Shanthi

This catchy headline in the business section of the Toronto Star caught Catherine’s eye and drew her into reading a recent opinion piece by Max Koeune. She pursued a link mentioned and before she knew it, she was learning about Regeneration Canada, Potato News (a website dedicated to all things potato) and “Sport Spuds”! Who knew?.

Potato News is a self-described source for ‘a no frills, no nonsense daily account of breaking global potato news stories’. (That brought a smile) Its website profiled the Max Koeune piece as well, which spotlights McCain Foods and why it is making “a global commitment to the principles and practices of regenerative agriculture”. (Toronto Star: https://bit.ly/3pZnA1B)

In the article we learned more about the link between food growing and processing practices and carbon emissions, and why change needs to happen in terms of the long-term viability of farming as a career path for future generations, and in terms of climate action.

Koeune presents the compelling case for change, from his vantage point as president and chief executive officer of McCain Foods  – “Globally, more than a quarter of the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change come from the growing and processing of food – and a global population boom is only going to exacerbate that problem. If we don’t change the way we farm, feeding the world in 30 years will require an 87 per cent increase in carbon emissions.”

Even as the potato is a low-carbon crop, Koeune explains how more can be done and why, “[b]y the end of the decade, McCain is committed to implementing regenerative agricultural practices on every acre of farm that grows a potato for (its) French fries.” The focus is on changing practice in its considerable acreage world-wide in order to restore soil health, biodiversity and reduce carbon emissions.

(Potato News: https://bit.ly/3zsqmkl)

Photo credit Lucy

Regenerative Agriculture

A Globe and Mail piece added to our understanding of the complexities of regenerative agriculture and why it matters. In David Israelson’s piece on “Regenerative agriculture a game-changer for farmers,” a quote by Gabrielle Bastien, founder and co-director of Regeneration Canada gets to the heart of the change in practice. ‘In essence it means working with nature as opposed to working against it,’ she says. ‘It’s a set of farming principles and practices that regenerates the health of the soil.’ “ (Globe and Mail: https://tgam.ca/3zHJzP4)

Checking out the website for Regeneration Canada, “a national not-for-profit organization that champions regenerative farming practices,” we learned more details, including ‘why soil matters’.

“The term “regenerative” refers to a process – the process of improving one’s state. With regenerative agriculture, the journey improves the state of the soil, of the ecosystem overall, of the climate, and of human health.

Regenerative agriculture is based on principles of land management which reverse current trends of degradation in soil, water and air quality by enhancing the soil ecosystem and restoring its biology. Principles of regenerative agriculture aim to draw down atmospheric carbon into soil and the aboveground biomass, helping to reverse climate change.

At the same time, they increase climate resilience in the face of drought, floods, and extreme weather events. Rebuilding soil organic matter reduces dependence on chemicals and pesticides, results in more nutrient dense food, and generates greater economic viability for farmers.”

(Regeneration Canada https://regenerationcanada.org/en/about-us/)

From these articles and websites we learned that some of the farming practices that promote healthy soil and reduce carbon emissions are:

  • Reducing tillage
  • Cover cropping
  • Promoting crop diversity
  • Protecting watersheds
  • Minimizing pesticides
  • Agroforestry and perennials (planted in farmed areas)
  • Integrating livestock into farming operations rather than grazing them in separate fields.

To learn more details about regenerative agriculture, the importance of soil health and specific farming practices such as cover cropping, what farmers can do to enhance CO2 sinks, ways that farmers can reduce methane, see our May 13 blog post on Vertical Hydroponics and Regenerative Farms, Regeneration Canada’s website at https://regenerationcanada.org/en/about-us/ , and/or the Organic Council of Ontario’s (OCO’s) website, which also offers information on incentives for regenerative farming at: https://www.organiccouncil.ca/.

Why Trees (Still) Matter?

Photo credit Lucy

Our first blog post almost two years ago was on Why Trees Matter?

It is a question we continue to explore and return to in our blogging, even as we expand our learning horizons about climate action beyond the critical role trees play in carbon capture.

We end today’s post with some inspirational tree-themed quotes found on the tree planting/donation website clickatree.com (not an endorsement), and by encouraging our Readers to take two minutes to watch this informative and engaging BBC videoclip called, “What if Everyone in the World Planted a Tree?” (2020) –

https://www.bbc.co.uk/ideas/videos/what-if-everyone-in-the-world-planted-a-tree/p084ttpq

“People who will not sustain trees will soon live in a world that will not sustain people.” (Bryce Nelson)

“Ancient trees are precious. There is little else on Earth that plays host to such a rich community of life within a single living organism.” (Sir David Attenborough)

“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”  (Chinese proverb)

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” (Nelson Henderson)

“We’re merely one tree with various types, shapes and sizes of leaves that all wave differently in the breeze.” (Rasheed Ogunlaru)  [https://clickatree.com/]

Photo credit Lucy

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