Visiting the Arcadia farm several days ago was a great experience for me. The farm is located on a plot of Mount Vernon land with some very interesting history. Originally it was owned under one of George Washington’s nieces. Eventually, a group of Quakers purchased it in an attempt to turn it into a model farm; one which profited sustainably and without the use of slaves. They were successful with this endeavor and inspired many into this new age of farming. I find it cool that the farm, with this history, now serves as a sustainable farm that gives back to the community.
The farm taught me a lot about the systems we can use to interact with the earth in a mutualistic way. In order to use land at the rate we (as humans) want to, we need to manually process the soil. Strategies were used to encourage plant growth and increase nutrients. We planted a type of radish ,which is especially good at fixing nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil, as a cover crop. It grows exceptionally long roots which are able to penetrate deep into the soil, into the layer of clay. Because clay retains moisture very well, it encourages the decomposition of these roots. Tilling the soil helps mix up all this organic matter as well as loosen it up and get some air into it.
Human’s are able to both make the environment work better or worse for ourselves. Regretfully, we typically fall towards the latter. We use up the Earth rather than simply use it. Greater, long term, results can only be achieved by working with the Earth. There is virtually none of Earth left that is untouched by our pollution (http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20141104-is-anywhere-free-from-pollution). Many places, and soon many more, will be beyond repair.
We require these sustainable practices, which are nowadays seen in only small scale, to spread worldwide. The mindset will change along with it and cause sustainability to accelerate exponentially. Just as the Quakers did, we can serve as models for the future. The revolution will not be televised.