A Book About Sustainability That Really Means It

Now that I hope I’ve convinced you not to eat supermarket tomatoes (and suddenly the Twitterverese is full of references to Tomatoland–lots of folks must have had some extra time to do some reading during December and I’m glad.  It’s wonderful to see this book get so much press.  And the beef industry should be scared–Barry Estabrook is now at work on an expose of CAFOs–factory farming of beef) I wanted to point out a great gardening book that I don’t think has gotten the press it’s deserved.  On Friday I’ll contrast it with another gardening book about sustainability that I think has gotten too much press for all the wrong reasons.

In The New American Landscape: Leading Voices on The Future of Sustainable Gardening, edited by Thomas Christopher, 10 leaders  in the sustainable gardening movement are brought together to give gardeners direction on how to garden with the least impact possible on the environment.  This book is designed as that roadmap.

After a Foreward from Christopher (dedicated on Earth Day, 2011—a nice touch), the leading essay called “Sustainable Solutions” provides an overview and 9 ways to have an immediate impact in the garden.  They range from the “right plant, right place” adage to more interesting ones like “attract or purchase beneficial organisms.

Other chapters go on to discuss how to manage a property as a sustainable SITE (something that will be comparable in landscaping to the green-building certification that LEED awards); how to manage water on the property; the role of the edible garden in sustainable landscaping (including harvesting rainwater); gardening in a changing climate; green roofs; landscapes to welcome wildlife (by Doug Tallamy); managing soil health; and finally, tying it all together, whole system garden design.

This is an important book about not only the future of gardening but about the future of the planet.  Many of us have already seen gardening change since we began gardening ourselves.  If the Native American saying is true, that we only borrow the planet from our grandchildren, we need to heed to lessons of this book and others like it to make sure they inherit the same wonderful place to garden that we all knew.

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