Fol­low­ing Michelle’s ex­am­ple


At first I thought it was overkill, but First Lady Michelle Obama was smart to for­tify her or­ganic gar­den with con­crete, steel, and stone. In the un­likely event that a fu­ture pres­i­dent should de­mol­ish her pow­er­ful state­ment about healthy food and a cleaner en­vi­ron­ment, the re­moval would be in­ter­preted as an unadul­ter­ated in­gra­ti­a­tion to the likes of science-de­niers and the fast-food in­dus­try. Uh-oh. What’s a cit­i­zenry sup­posed to do when Sarah Palin tops an In­te­rior Sec­re­tary short list? First, get po­lit­i­cally ac­tive. Show up. Push for sus­tain­able poli­cies. Al­though per­ma­cul­ture mostly works in the tac­tile world, its prin­ci­ples can be suc­cess­fully ap­plied to “in­vis­i­ble struc­tures”— the so­cial, eco­nomic, and po­lit­i­cal sys­tems that af­fect our lives and land. So, wher­ever you are, please be the pis­til of wis­dom or the sta­men of ac­tion that our species needs now.

Sec­ond, sup­port lo­cal farm­ers. Eat their food. Al­lowyour dol­lars to re­cir­cu­late within your re­gional econ­omy. For the hol­i­days, give gift cer­tifi­cates from farm­ers’ mar­kets. Check for point-of-ori­gin la­bels, and re­duce the car­bon foot­print as­so­ci­ated with a far-flung diet.

Third, fol­low Michelle’s ex­am­ple. De­sign and in­stall an ed­i­ble gar­den. You know you want to get down and dirty. With dif­fi­cult years ahead, now is the time to up your gar­den­ing game. If a su­per-busy first lady can do it, you can, too.

Not ev­ery­one can get the Univer­sity of Vir­ginia to pro­vide land­scape ar­chi­tec­ture, and the Na­tional Park Ser­vice is un­likely to han­dle your gar­den’s in­stal­la­tion. Don’t feel ashamed if you need help. Be­fore she got started less than seven years ago, Michelle was like many peo­ple: un­fa­mil­iar with gar­den­ing.

I can re­late. Grow­ing up in New York City, my ex­pe­ri­ence with veg­etable gar­den­ing fea­tured the prover­bial av­o­cado pit stuck with tooth­picks and par­tially sub­merged in a glass of wa­ter. I sawa pointy green thing at the end of a pal­lid stem once or twice, but that­was it. A decade later I dis­cov­ered per­ma­cul­ture, and my per­spec­tive shifted as I gained pur­pose, di­rec­tion, and in­sight into the power of nat­u­ral forces and phe­nom­ena.

Gar­den­ing is em­bed­ded in our ge­netic code. Our bod­ies, minds, and souls not only re­mem­ber our agri­cul­tural roots, but peo­ple also seem to have phys­i­cal, emo­tional, and spir­i­tual yearn­ings for plant­ing, pick­ing, prep­ping, serv­ing, and eat­ing — straight fromthe land— with­out the help of plas­tic, foil, card­board, and Sty­ro­foam.

But suc­cess­ful gar­den­ing starts with a thought­ful de­sign, so, in honor of the Oba­mas, we’d like to help. Just con­tact us be­fore noon (East­ern) on Fri­day, Jan. 20, 2017, and use the promo code, “I’m just fol­low­ing Michelle’s ex­am­ple,” and you will re­ceive 33 per­cent off the cost of a typ­i­cal one-hour land­scape con­sul­ta­tion. Don’t worry. We won’t let you spend un­nec­es­sar­ily on con­crete, steel, and stone. The soil you build, the plants you es­tab- lish, and the trees you leave be­hind will likely be much ap­pre­ci­ated by whomever takes over your real es­tate when you’re gone.

Ready? Your land is wait­ing. Fu­ture gen­er­a­tions are beg­ging, and Michelle’s legacy wants you.

Nate Downey started Santa Fe Per­ma­cul­ture in 1992, au­thored Roof-Re­liant Land­scap­ing (2008) and Har­vest the Rain (2010), and is the pres­i­dent of Per­maDe­sign, Inc. He can be reached via www. per­made­ or 505-690-7939.

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