“Come to the Painted Turtle Farm! No turtles. Some vegetables. Mostly weeds.”
Weeds seem to be the omnipotent god of a garden, everywhere and unrelenting in merciless tyranny. Sometimes, running a farm, we feel like we’re farming weeds. We harvest the lettuce, and pick out the weeds. We weed out the carrots and are left with half as many carrots as we thought there were. However, our billion year old planet does not produce specific plants JUST to be a nuisance to us and to be what we call weeds. Like all other beings – plant, animal, and fungi alike, “weeds” are apart of the balance and health of our ecosystem. They are people’s invention, not nature’s.
Nature actively desires diversity!
Without Roundup and other agricultural herbicides, the green grass squares that make our country’s checkerboard of suburban houses would be practically impossible. It’s no wonder 40% of bees died last year when their options for and access to nectar are constantly being limited. Mother Earth News directly blames Round-up for this epidemic and France has recently banned all pesticides in the hope that the bee population may be able to recover. On an organic and Certified Naturally Grown farm, there is no quick-fix to weeds or pests. No permanent solution besides Extinction. They are a fact of life. As Good Housekeeping suggests in its article on weeds, 8 Homemade Weed Killers, you must “learn to love them.”
Since the beginning of the summer I have grown to appreciate two weeds – excuse me, plants – in particular: Lamb’s Quarter and Purslane.(Recipes using them are soon to come!)
We would never have discovered the benefit of these plants if it wasn’t for the families with plots on the farm. Without them, we would not have known that both are edible and that Purslane (or La Verdolaga) is great with pork or cooked up in soup. Indeed, the diversity of our community allows us to grow as farmers, friends, and food-lovers as it compliments the diversity of our garden.
The community we tend to on the farm and the friendships harvested from the relationships grown there, indicates the necessity of having a diverse world – be it in people or plants. When there is more diversity in an ecological community, the greater its resilience. This is the same with communities of people. (The journal of Ecology and Society discusses this theory further.)
Just as no plant is really unnecessary, no group of people can be deemed such either. The improvement, resilience, and stability of our society depends on our ability to embrace diversity in its many forms. Once accepting that we should learn from nature and each other, this becomes evident. As William Shakespeare said through his character Ulysses, “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin”.
So much the world has to teach us! Weed happily knowing the plants will grow back soon and the bees will buzz by again.This is sustainable farming.