Our Health, the Health of Our Soils, and the Health of Our Planet are One and the Same
The bulk of our world’s current ecological and personal health crises can be traced back to the way we grow and process food
Our planet is losing its biodiversity at an unprecedented rate. Much of conventional agriculture is about killing: fungi, insects, weeds and the biodiversity in the soil.
Vast monocultures, soil tillage and a heavy reliance upon chemical fertilisers, herbicides & pesticides, all extract significant environmental and health costs.
These costs include soil degradation and erosion, the loss of pollinating insects, pesticide laden foods, and toxic runoff into our streams, rivers and oceans.
According to United Nations’ estimates, we are losing 12 million hectares of agricultural land each year through soil degradation.
In addition to chemical intensive farming, the problem with frequent tillage is that it destroys the living biology in the soil. Damaged soil releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and loses its capacity to retain moisture. This leads to desertification and soil erosion. Many of the world’s cultivated soils have lost more than 50% of their original carbon stocks.
Modern agriculture relies upon fossil fuels to make the chemicals it uses, to power the machinery for planting, ploughing and harvesting, and to transport the food often halfway around the world. It’s been estimated that industrial agriculture uses 10 calories of fossil fuels to produce one calorie of food.
This is clearly an unsustainable model.
The good news, however, is that the solution is quite simple; indeed, it’s right underneath our feet and determined by the choices we each make as individuals.
If we farm using sustainable methods like not tilling the soil, applying compost, planting trees and cover crops, and using natural biological controls to reduce pest pressure, we can regenerate degraded soils and produce nutrient-dense foods.
And you, the consumer and gardener, ultimately determine farm practices through your personal choices.
Our mission at Local Harvest Gardening is to make it as easy as possible for you to successfully grow your own nutrient-dense, phytonutrient-rich produce using sustainable methods.
Most of the principles and practices which we impart are applicable to all growing regions and mediums: whether you’re a balcony container grower, a home-yard or market gardener.
Beyond what you grow yourself, try to buy your produce, meat, eggs and dairy from a retailer who sources from local farms; farms that grow organically using regenerative agricultural principles.
Localised, regenerative farming eco-systems can be scaled globally. Indeed, by necessity, they will be the future of food production. And each of us can be part of that solution.
Our individual choices can help foster regional food security and year-round access to nutritious food provided by cooperative, local, sustainable farms, home gardens and food processors.
Together, we can make this vision a reality. Our health, the health of our soils, and the health of our planet are truly one and the same.
Here’s a little about your guides on this journey…
Dan Oostenbrink is a market gardener and operates The Local Harvest Market together with his wife, Helen. As a former educator, he combines his passion for teaching and his love for growing food to work towards greater food security in his region and around the world.
Local Harvest is a 25-acre market garden that produces a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts and flowers using regenerative, no-till growing methods.
A decade of learning, observations and the trialling of hundreds of different crops, with some failures along the way, shapes the way Dan thinks about organic gardening.
He firmly believes that working with nature to build healthy soils and grow nutrient-dense foods can restore the ecological balance and build resilient communities.
Andrew Couzens is a software engineer turned soil scientist. A lifelong sufferer of inflammatory bowel disease, he was motivated to enter the agricultural space in an effort to “be the change” he believed was necessary to heal his own body.
Healthy plants come from healthy soil, and healthy soil comes from working with nature, not against it.
Andrew started Terra Flora Organics with a goal of helping conventional growers move from unsustainable practices that destroy soil and negatively affect the health of people and the planet, to regenerative practices that allow intensive farming whilst building soil and healing our minds and our bodies.
Damien Dupont is a former software quality assurance tester. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, his family moved to France when he was eight. For the next three years he would spend his summer breaks on his uncle’s hobby farm in the Deux-Sèvres region. This planted the seed in him to also one day settle down and achieve self-sufficiently on a rural property.
He moved to Chilliwack in 2013 to study Agriculture Technology at UFV, became a customer at The Local Harvest Market in 2017, and completed his practicum at the farm prior to graduating in May 2019.
Damien is very health focussed, and Local Harvest’s mission of growing nutrient-dense foods, using 100% natural and sustainable methods, fully aligns with his own ethos.