The Top Ten Ways Gardeners Can Give Back to Our Planet

Practice organic gardening techniques as much as possible and use our landscapes to provide flowers for pollinators. Custoner photo of honey bee on Russian Sage.

Happy Earth Day 2015


"Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by the deluge of gifts earth bestows on us, entirely unearned: water, air, food, the ground beneath our feet... So what should be our response to the generosity of the world? Paying attention to it. Drinking it in. Letting its energy flow into us. Celebrating ... the physical and spiritual things, the tranquil and exhilarating things, prayer and poetry and pancakes alike." -- Robin Wall Kimmerer


While there is much to celebrate on Earth Day, it is even more urgent that we watch Mother Earth's back (as we say in the vernacular). With over seven billion people currently living on the Earth and using her resources, the days of plenty are gone. Conservation, restoration and resting the Earth's resources so that they can recover needs to become our focus. Here are some of my thoughts for doing so as it relates to us gardeners.

The Top Ten Ways Gardeners Can Help Give Back to Our Planet:

Practice organic gardening techniques as much as possible. Protect our soil, our water and all the creatures (including ourselves) that depend on plants. Educate yourselves about alternatives to the chemical intensive techniques and products that predominate in the marketplace.

Grow some food. Learn to appreciate what a gift it is to be able to plant seeds and harvest delicious, nourishing food. Plants are our direct connection to Mother Earth, pulling the goodness from the soil and feeding our bodies. This is our primordial connection to Earth that nourishes us physically and spiritually.

Chatfield Arboretum gardens abuzz with pollinators. Chatfield Arboretum gardens abuzz with pollinators.

Use our landscapes to provide flowers for pollinators and habitat for songbirds and other animals. Tens of millions of prairie and forest have been lost to human settlement, having disappeared under houses, shopping malls, offices, roads and highways. Give back by planting to provide food and shelter so other creatures can share our space. There is power in numbers; Think what a difference it would make If a million gardeners make it their goal to create habitat.

Don't buy toxic gardening products. Let the stores where you shop for gardening products, know that we want organic and natural products. Tell them we want to learn how we can garden without the poisons that currently stock the shelves in the Big Box stores and many of our garden centers. Tell them we don't want to buy systemic pesticides that poison our pollinators (bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and others). Tell them we don't want to spread damaging "weed-n-feed" chemical fertilizers/pre-emergent herbicides on our lawns and under our bare feet.

Buy organic food. Agra-business (Industrial agriculture) is destroying the planet, abusing our precious farm animals, poisoning our bodies and polluting the Earth's soil, air and water. We can make our voices heard with our dollars. Seek out organic foods.

Demand that GMO foods be labeled. The dominance of GMO "Round-Up Ready" food crops directly results in the use of millions of tons of toxic herbicides, pesticide and chemical fertilizers that are poisoning the land, the water and our rural farming communities. We demand the opportunity to vote with our dollars by knowing if our food or food products (i.e. high fructose corn syrup) comes from genetically engineered crops. Again we must vote with our dollars if our need for a safe environment is to be heard.

Buy food from a Farmer's Market, Groceries or Food Coop that support and sell locally grown produce, food products, and grass feed/free range, non-feed lot meats. California, which supplies much of this country's food is in danger of running out of water this year! The catastrophic drought that is affecting the West Coast will directly affect a huge percentage of our food supply. Grow and buy locally. It only makes sense to de-centralize our food supplies so we can build and support a market infrastructure for local farmers.

Customer Photo - Girl with anemones. Share the love of gardening.

Teach our kids to grow plants and learn to garden. Video games won't feed us, and food doesn't just magically appear at the grocery store. Support community and school gardening programs.

Plant a tree. Planting a tree is an investment in the future. A statement that says we need to look to the future and do something about it today. Plant a shade tree to cool your home. Plant a fruit tree to grow some fruit. Plant a flowering tree to feed the bees.

Enjoy your garden by leaving your cell phone in the house. Be mindful and give your undivided attention to your plants, your soil, your landscape. Nurture a direct connection without the distractions of someone talking in your ear. Enjoy all that gardening and connecting to Mother Earth has to offer. Make your time spent gardening restorative and let it bring you joy!

Text and Photos By David Salman

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