Ecopsychology's Relationship to Agriculture
Toward A Vision of Sustinable Agriculture
Many of us are familiar with sustainable agriculture, yet few will know what is meant by ecopsychology. Briefly defined, ecopsychology represents a view that invites us to participate in the fullness of nature as a wilderness, not a well-manicured garden that is maintained for human use. This does not mean we need to give up gardening and agriculture in the practical sense, but that we need to stop treating nature as an object that exists solely as a resource. Likewise, according to Wes Jackson, Director of the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, this embodies the principle of sustainable agriculture "where nature is the measure." The goal of sustainable agriculture is to the need to move away from monocultural farming techniques and the seasonal reliance on herbicides and pesticides to control weeds and insects.
Jackson and his colleagues at the Land Institute have already begun developing perennial strains of grasses, legumes (peas, beans, clover, alfalfa, etcetera), sunflower family members and miscellaneous others that not only imitate nature's structure, but says Jackson, are bred "for high seed-yield and resistance to seed shatter and pests." In his essay "Communities: In Nature and at Home," published in the journal ReVision, he tells us:
Though some of the work features diversity over time (crop rotation, in other words), it is not necessarily succession. Nevertheless, by featuring diversity, maintaining ground cover, and relying on internal sources of nutrients, better control of weeds, diseases, and insects is possible. Nearly all of the good examples of traditional agriculture have employed what we now recognize as sound ecological principles (Jackson: 93, 1992).
Still, new methods of plant breeding and the reinstatement of traditional farming methods will not, by themselves, create the means to develop sustainable agriculture. In addition, Jackson suggests the need "for a less extractive and polluting economic order" based on what he refers to as "sustainable human communities." The achievement of this goal is the most radical suggestion that Jackson proposes:
If we are to look at nature to inform us about sustainable structures and functions in a human community, we must have the courage to shift our attention back to the Paleolithic and even earlier in order to define what the human being is as a social creature (Jackson: 94, 1992).
We will continue to explore ecopsychology's relationship to sustainable agriculture and "sustainable human communities" in future hubs.
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See Wes Jackson. (1992). "Communities: In Nature and at Home." ReVision, 15 (2), 91-96, for more information on sustainable agriculture.