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Reader Editorial – A rather poignant discovery….

THOUGHTS ON COVID AND CLIMATE CHANGE

I have seen the impossible proved possible early on in the pandemic where skies cleared, pollution was reduced, and a rare silence settled over cities which brought animals out of hiding and bird songs to our ears which were no longer jammed with noise. I saw myself and others freed temporarily of frantic lifestyles and forced to be home alone or with families and come face to face with the circumstances called Covid and Climate Change. With time now on my hands, I could question who and what I was alone or together with others. It became apparent that my life, prior to this time of disruption, would never return to “normal”.

Therefore, I became more intent on creating a different lifestyle away from costly consumption, entertainment and travel into something quieter, something closer to home. Forced to settle down because of the restrictions placed upon me by the pandemic, I turned to my backyard which has since become my refuge. The contrast between indoor and outdoor living became immediately obvious. I was invigorated by the air, soil, plant and animal life around me. A healing experience, ironically, was offered to me by the terrible raging disease. My imprisonment led to a call to participate in the potential of the soil under my feet. I accepted the invitation and began cultivating a garden. In no time my woes turned into pleasure and a wonderful sense of renewal embraced me.

My experience brought to mind what were called Liberty Gardens (in WWI) and Victory Gardens (in WWII). These were community gardens established to meet the demand of food shortages. Given the health, recreational and morale boosting effects of gardening, the government sponsored a national gardening campaign to encourage their development. It was reported by the government that by 1944 nearly 20 million households were involved in producing 40% of the vegetables consumed in America.

As a matter of fact, such an organization exists now in the form of an NGO called the American Community Garden Association. Here in Lincoln County there exists a community food garden collaboration. The membership includes active community gardeners, supportive volunteers, garden organizing

and sponsoring organizations, governmental agencies, horticultural professionals, teachers, OSU extension agents, and academic researchers. The collaboration is open to anyone interested. More information can be found at leslie.p.newport@gmail.com where Leslie Palotas is the program coordinator.

These efforts address more than just the need for food. They are part of a growing movement worldwide called “regenerative agriculture”. Regenerative agriculture will play a large part in the climate emergency which we are now facing. It does so by restoring the health of soil and making it a carbon sink rather than an emitter of carbon. Presently big agriculture is destroying soil faster than it can be replaced. It is doing this by over tilling, use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, mono- cropping, as well as poor practices in cattle and dairy production such as factory farming. This is why, in addition to being healthier to consume, growing organic food also helps the environment.

So I encourage you to step into your backyard or community garden and become part of the solution by loving and stewarding the land under our feet. I see the spirit of community sprouting in neighborhoods, where tools, time and energy are shared and people generally more happy to come together. Maybe we could call the garden we create together “Eden”.

See you at the harvest!

Bill Kucha
Depoe Bay, Oregon

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