71% of butterfly species in the UK are in decline. The Natural Environment Research Council which reported this result said it raises speculation the world is heading for a "sixth mass extinction". The fifth mass extinction happened sixty five million years ago and killed off all the dinosaurs.
No matter how large or small, cultivating a garden is a joy and benefit to all. Vegetation absorbs carbon dioxide. Gardening is an occupation that is unrestricted to age.
Gardens, backyards and allotments grown organically will generate fresh, tasty produce that you have had the satisfaction of growing. You can encourage native species by adding wild flowers or grasses, this can help preserve native butterflies and insects that are beneficial to plants, planet and the soil.
Through organic gardening and perma-culture you can learn more about how nature protects itself and how we can act in ways that support life-affirming processes. Many of us have lives that divorce us from nature. Tending a garden can help re-establish the links between the earth and us directly.
1. Start an organic garden or allotment and grow your own food
There are an estimated 330,000 allotments in Britain. Even the tiniest courtyard can be turned into a garden, and allotments can be shared with friends. The more you can grow, the more you help to reduce the energy used in production and transportation of commercially-grown food and you'll be saving money and be healthier too. Cultivate vegetables, herbs and plants in pots in order to maximise the greenery at home.
Gardening is inherently more productive than farming because of the greater amount of attention that can be given to a smaller area.
Becoming a member of the local organic gardening and sustainable agriculture group will provide you with advice, information and seed exchange.
All councils in England & Wales (with the exception of Inner London) have to, by law, provide allotments. Any group of adults over the age of 18 and registered on the electoral role can group together to request the council provide land for growing.
National Society for Allotments & Leisure Gardeners Ltd. - O'Dell House, 8 Hunters Road, Corby, Northants, NN17 5JE. Tel: 01536 266576.
Soil Association - Soil Association, Bristol House, 40-56 Victoria Street,
Bristol, BS1 6BY. Tel: 0117 929 0661. www.soilassociation.org
Permaculture Magazine - Hyden House Ltd., The Sustainability Centre, East Meon, Hampshire, GU32 1HR.
Tel: 01730 823311. www.permaculture.co.uk
2. Use rainwater on your garden
Rather than use tap water (which has been expensively treated to bring it up to drinking water standard), collect as much rainwater as you can. .Add 4,5,6.... water-butts to your garden. The water is usually softer than tap water and is good for watering plants.
3. Find out about companion planting and seed exchanges
Plants can be grown together, which are beneficial to each other and help control pests. Save seeds from your own-grown produce. Find out what local varieties can be grown in your area and exchange them with other gardeners. Variety in the vegetation will make your garden attractive to a wider range of insects and wildlife.
Heritage Seed Library/ Garden Organic - Garden Organic Ryton, Coventry,
Warwickshire, CV8 3LG
Tel: 02476 3 3517 - www.gardenorganic.org.uk
4. Don't use artificial fertilisers, agrochemicals or buy peat based composts
Artificial fertilisers are petroleum based and use significant amounts of energy in their production. Much of the nitrogen-fertiliser applied to fields is not taken up by crops and runs off into rivers and lakes causing algae growth, suffocating fish and other wildlife.
Garden centres may no longer sell peat from the UK; instead they get it from other countries - from Estonia, Finland and the Irish Republic which are losing unique ecosystems. It is simple to generate your own compost (reducing land fill in the process).
"And this our life exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, book in
the running brooks, Sermons in stones and good in everything."
William Shakespeare - As you like it
5. Plant a wildflower garden and encourage birds and wildlife
If you have spare or empty land nearby, why not create a wildflower garden? Not only will this be a haven for natural diversity but you can also help re-establish rare wild plants. Your local branch of the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers or wildlife organisation will be able to provide information about sources of wildflower plants/seeds. Plant trees and shrubs that attract bees and butterflies. Put up bird-tables or nest-boxes to encourage a variety of birds into your garden.
British Trust of Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) - 26 St. Mary's Street, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 OEU.
Tel: 01491 821600. www.btcv.org
6. Become a Guerrilla Gardener or a wild bunch!
Armed with trowels, seeds and vision, you can garden everywhere, anywhere. Guerrilla gardeners are people anonymously planting herbs, flowers and vegetables on vacant land, by the side of the road, footpaths, anywhere where the concrete and grime of cities is spoiling our lives.
"The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea"
If you don't fancy being anonymous, get the residents in your area involved in digging up part of the car parking area, or some other soulless piece of ground near your homes and create a community garden.
7. Dress a Tree
Tree dressing encourages the celebration of trees, in your street, on the village green, in the local park, alongside a road. You can use decorations to put across a specific message about how important trees are to the quality of the air/landscape or just make them beautiful in a way that makes people notice and appreciate them.
Common Ground - Gold Hill House, 21 High Street, Shaftesbury, Dorset,
SP7 8JE. Tel: 01747 850820. www.commonground.org.uk
8. And in the end.....Green Burial, as part of your will
Think about how your life, and death are part of the cycle of nature. Arrange for a green burial and a service that reflects your commitment to the environment. Consider making a will to help fund projects that you have been involved in and the issues you care about.
The Natural Death Centre - 20 Heber Road, London, NW2 6AA.
Tel: 020 8208 2853. www.naturaldeath.co.uk
The National Trust - PO Box 39, Warrington WA5 7WD
Tel: 0844 800 1895 - www.nationaltrust.org.uk
Funded by the Norfolk Independent Waste Trust and Cobb Charity
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