Op-Ed (Letter to the Editor) from Ryan Yoder – Danby, VT
Some of the biggest problems facing Americans are collapsing ecosystems, climate change, and an exponential curve in the incidence of chronic disease. There are compelling arguments that any of these alone has the power to collapse our economy and civilization, and their convergence is a stark case study in what “existential crisis” means.
We started our farm in an attempt to take direct action to counter these terrifying crises. Over the ten years of our business, we have watched a new paradigm emerge that carries the promise of Health for humanity. This is the paradigm of “Regeneration” (also known as regenerative agriculture) which has the explicit goal of improving the underlying health of soil as the most effective means to regenerating the water and carbon cycles, heal our chronic disease epidemic, and revive the health of our economies, psyches, and spirits!
Essential to this movement is rebuilding the microbiome, in our bodies as well as the soil, by decreasing the toxicity which negatively impacts it. There is increasing evidence that the largest driver of our chronic disease trajectory (and therefore Covid deaths) is the toxic antibiotic glyphosate, which is used as an herbicide and for desiccating grain crops before harvest. There is ample evidence that Atrazine, another herbicide, is a major endocrine disruptor that has been shown to cause trans-sexuality in amphibians. Prohibiting these chemicals in food crops would seem to be a no-brainer if we care about health and the environment, but perhaps that is only the tip of the iceberg?
How about the hundreds of thousands of gallons of Roundup, used by homeowners and golf courses to kill dandelions and other weeds? Reframing our understanding of health and ecology using the regenerative paradigm would give us practical methods for addressing the crises at all levels, giving us innate guidance about how to turn lawn care into a healing practice rather than just another net CO2 emission vector.
Principles that increase soil carbon in fields include biodiversity, mob grazing livestock, eliminating chemical use, and reducing tillage. Why not apply these principles to lawn care? Build biodiversity in lawns by NOT killing weeds, reduce mowing to an occasional mimicry of grazing herds of animals on the savannah, maybe get some sheep. The power to change the future resides in how we understand the present. Let’s understand it regeneratively.