“When we see land as a community to which we belong, we my begin to use it with love and respect.”Aldo Leopold
Many consider the late Aldo Leopold to be the father of modern conservation theory and practice. Leopold believed that land stewardship was not only rooted in conservation but also involved ethics, or the search for a higher meaning. He wrote that all ethics rest upon the single premise “…that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, animals, or collectively: the land.” Once we understand that we are not separate from, but are part of and depend on the natural community, we will develop an ethic to care for the community as a whole.
When we think of the land, we often think of the physical land – the soil, the trees, the plants, the animals, and the air – but the land is so much
more than that. To steward the land well is to care for her and all of her resources responsibly and sustainably, ensuring that future generations can enjoy the same benefits we do. What a wonderful gift to give to our children, grandchildren, community and beyond.
To steward well means to respect the land and understand that it is not ours alone, but part of a larger ecosystem and community. It means taking care of the land, so that it can continue to provide for us and for all of the other living
things that depend on it. It means understanding the connection between the land and the people who inhabit it. It means working to conserve resources, protect habitats, and preserve natural areas, so that we can all continue to enjoy her beauty and bounty. It means understanding the impacts of our actions – both positive and negative – and striving to reduce our negative impacts on the environment. It also means being mindful of how to use the land sustainably and making sure that we are not taking more than it can provide.
But what if we took all that a step further and said “I am going to steward my LIFE well…” What would that even look like?
To steward my life well means to respect my body and understand its limitations. It means taking care of myself, so that I can continue to provide for my family, myself and for all of the other living things that depend on me. It means understanding the connection between yourself, the people you love and the community. It means working to conserve your resources, protect yourself, and preserve all areas of your life so that your family can continue to enjoy your beauty and bounty. It means understanding the impacts of your actions – both positive and negative – and striving to reduce your negative impacts on the environment and yourself. It also means being mindful of how to use your energy sustainably and making sure that you are not giving more than is available.
We are all one in the same. You simply cannot pour from an empty cup just as you cannot take from the empty land.
Looking at the land, how do you steward it well? Let’s take a look at just some of those practices that can be used on both smaller and larger scale properties.
- Rotate crops to maintain soil fertility and prevent pests and diseases.
- Practice sustainable farming methods, such as no-till, cover cropping, and conservation tillage.
- Plant native and drought-tolerant plants to reduce water usage.
- Establish buffer zones to protect water sources from erosion, runoff, and contamination.
- Use organic fertilizers and pest control methods whenever possible.
- Incorporate water conservation practices, such as rainwater harvesting and drip irrigation.
- Manage livestock responsibly to prevent overgrazing and soil erosion.
- Use integrated pest management techniques to reduce the need for chemical pesticides
- Create and protect wildlife habitats on the land.
- Minimize the use of fossil fuels and conserve energy.
It does not matter if you live in an apartment or a 50 acre farm, we can all practice better ways to look after Mother Nature. On the smaller scale, simple things such as reusing storage containers and shopping bags, composting food waste, recycling, using natural cleaning products and having a small balcony container garden can make a big impact.
How can we better steward our lives? I will be the first to admit that practicing these ways does not always come easy. But just as taking care of the land requires hard work, so does taking care of yourself.
- Prioritize mental and physical health. Take time to rest, exercise regularly and get outside.
- Be purposeful with your time. Make sure to spend time with family and friends, as well as on activities that bring you joy.
- Make a plan to reach your goals. Break down big goals into smaller steps and create a timeline for achieving them.
- Cultivate relationships. Reach out to friends, family and colleagues and prioritize quality time with them.
- Develop good habits. Create a routine that includes healthy habits like eating nutritious foods, getting enough sleep, and meditating.
- Think about your legacy. Think about the kind of impact you want to make and the values you want to pass on.
Sometimes even the simple concepts get lost along the way. We are working hard every day to bring them back, both on our farm and in our lives. As we sow the seeds to start our third garden season, Todd and I are excited and filled with hope. Of course, we were excited for the first two seasons here on our homestead. But this one is sure to bring us promise, abundance and beauty. This year feels special and I’m not quite sure why but I am so ready! Ready to steward her well and in turn she will steward our souls, giving us a place to play in and pray in. Thank you for being here, we can’t wait to watch you grow!
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