Rewilding and urban gardening for Planetary Wellbeing
The concept of Planetary Wellbeing means that the health of our bodies is intrinsically linked to the health of the planet.
– Sunny Gurpreet Singh
Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.
– Henry D. Thoreau
Going for park walks helps me think through problems, while long hikes in nature help to restore my internal balance in this world of technology, consumption, and relentless speed. I cannot imagine living in a space that does not offer nature or wilderness.
It seems odd to me that the earliest Greek and Roman philosophers – revered as the torchbearers of intellectual history – often fought the notion of the wild encroaching on civilization. That human beings had power over nature was one of the very foundations of Western civilization, which has led us to believe that we are superior to the flowers, trees, and entire animal kingdom of which we are in fact part.
Fortunately, the philosophical tide has started to turn. Concretely speaking, the exploration and development of rewilding has become increasingly popular around the world, with so many conservation networks arising and establishing a plethora of initiatives to teach us how to conserve, respect, and restore the planet.
My own initiative, Roundglass Sustain, envisions a wilder, greener planet where humanity respects every living species. Our goal in India is to promote a flourishing environment through visual storytelling to raise awareness of the unique ecosystems and biodiversity of India, in order to inspire people to protect them.
As for us in the U.S, we have also come a long way since the wilderness recovery movement began in 1964 with passage of the Wilderness Act, which stated that “a wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”
“The ultimate goal of rewilding efforts is to mitigate the species extinction crisis and restore healthy and sustainable ecosystem function in areas that require little or no human intervention or management,” states rewilding.org.
Now, when it comes to living in an urban area, as I do in Seattle, I think there is nothing more gratifying than to see nature’s bounty, with the toil of urban farmers, bringing healthy food from seed planting to harvest, and then to the kitchen and table. There are many examples of this, going back to the 1970s in New York City, when small plots of unused land and city rooftops began to be planted to raise crops for the locals. The early city visionaries and community garden stewards were volunteers, parents and children, elders, and community organizations, and over time, these actions have been normalized from coast to coast in the U.S.
In May 2018, writer and photographer Charlie Costello of Berkeley, CA. launched the MariLark Community Seed Bank on his own property, MariLark Farms, in the Berkeley Hills, with a mission to encourage others to grow their own food, learn about seed saving and plant biodiversity, build healthier soil, and foster a stronger and more resilient community. The seed bank features an explanation of the bank’s purpose and contents: there are all kinds of seed packets, a variety of tools, and educational materials to help get others started in growing their own food. Since the launch, community members have left books, seeds and plants in the bank, plus personal notes thanking Charlie for his efforts.
“I bring the discussion about the connections between food, community and climate to the ‘kitchen table.’ I love to grow our own food,” Charlie said. “I’m focused on regenerative farming techniques that some people call no-till farming. It regenerates soil, instead of depleting it and can sequester carbon at the same time. He grows arugula, garlic, lettuce, kalettes (a cross between kale and Brussels sprouts), many varieties of tomatoes, squash, zucchini, and more. *
Charlie Costello’s story inspires me as I advocate for a greener, more sustainable Mother Earth – one that is inclusive, peaceful, and respects every life form, big or small. It’s never too late to make a positive impact locally and globally, one restoration project at a time; one urban farm at a time. So, please participate however you can: grow your own tomatoes, explore the natural world around you, and support rewilding and urban farming. Working to enhance Planetary Wellbeing will enhance your greater Wholistic Wellbeing too.
*Reference: “One Seed at a Time: Building a Stronger and More Resilient Community through Urban Farming with Charlie Costello” by Lisa Carlson. Berkeley Hills Living, March 2020. (Paper publication only: a PDF is available)