Signs of Sustainability

We have a long way to go, but we're making progress. Here are some signs that we are moving towards sustainability.

November 11, 2020

Centering Sustainability, Justice in Farming

Tompkins Weekly 11-10-20

By Groundswell Center Staff

At a moment in history when critical mass feels essential to make change, we are reminded of the words from the late Grace Lee Boggs, “In this exquisitely connected world, it’s never a question of ‘critical mass.’ It’s always about critical connections.”

At the heart of sustainability is connection. Sustainable communities can be defined as the action of people, animals and the environment connecting to one another and depending on that connection for survival. Many farmers, gardeners, educators and activists deeply understand this concept. Our survival depends on one another.

As an agricultural agency in the Finger Lakes supporting beginning farmers for the past 10-plus years, Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming believes it is impossible to train the next generation of farmers without addressing issues of equity and justice.

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October 28, 2020

Nitrogen Cascade Harms Vegetation, Human Health

Tompkins Weekly 10-28-20

By Richard W. Franke

Plants appear to require about 18 essential elements to thrive. Some of these — zinc, iron, manganese, cobalt, nickel, etc. — are needed in small amounts called micronutrients. Carbon and oxygen, however, each make up around 45% of the dry weight of a plant, while hydrogen adds another 6%.

Despite their relatively small 1.8% total contribution to plant biomass, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur are critical to plant growth. And while plants can get most of their nutrients — micro or macro — from soil, nitrogen has proven to be a major limiting factor in ecosystem productivity worldwide.

The problem with nitrogen at first seems surprising. After all, it makes up 78% of the earth’s atmosphere in the zone up to 11 miles from the surface. As an atmospheric gas, nitrogen may be performing a sort of “calming” effect, keeping in check possible side effects of too much oxygen, which makes up about 21% of the atmosphere.

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October 14, 2020

Trees Up Tompkins: Working for the Common Good

Tompkins Weekly 10-14-20

By Patricia Ladley

Do you remember your mother’s instruction, so often repeated: “Eat your vegetables. They’re good for you”? Mother Earth also has something to say to her children: “Plant trees. They’re good for you!”

These amazing beings we call trees not only provide beauty and support biodiversity, but they also filter air pollution, help manage stormwater runoff, lower temperatures and draw down CO2 from the atmosphere. In short, trees improve the health and well-being of the local communities in which they are planted, valued and nurtured to maturity.

In the spring of 2019, the Museum of the Earth hosted a course presented by the Pachamama Alliance, a global community with the goal to create a sustainable future for all, called “Drawdown — the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming.” The course was based on the book of the same name, edited by Paul Hawken. (Learn more at the Project Drawdown website.) At the completion of the course, eight of us decided to continue the conversation.

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