In landscape design, one of the primary ways to shift a property to be more environmentally-friendly is to use drought tolerant, or water efficient, plants. This helps to protect and steward our local water resources. To take it one step further, a design could specify native water efficient plants. This approach is more than simply water wise. By using plants that are native to the region, we are helping to safeguard our regional ecosystem: the wildlife, water supply, a balanced insect population, our local soil biome, etc.
If these rules apply to landscape design, why couldn’t they be applied to agriculture as well? With the growing awareness of the need to diversify the types of plant based food we eat, and the growing concerns with mass corporate farming, now, more than ever, there is an opportunity to diversify with great public support.
Local farmers could grow local grains, herbs, fruits, root vegetables, and medicinal plants. And local plants, grown in native soil, are a really essential part of human health. You see, we are intrinsically tied to place. Our digestive systems are a reflection of our earthen home, and our gut biome (digestive bacteria, enzymes, etc) should mirror the biome found in a healthy local soil. It is a symbiotic relationship between our bodies and the earth. In short, when we eat local plants, grown in healthy, local soil, our health benefits from it.
From a business perspective, local farming, using native plants, helps a farmer lock down a market. Instead of trying to compete nationally, or even internationally, with other homogenous produce on a vast scale–which leads to lower and lower profit margins–keeping the operation smaller, with fewer competitors, should theoretically improve profit margins.
It is a revolutionary thought, for sure. And yes, it would require a perspective shift, and a re-education of the public regarding food choices, but honestly, that is simply a marketing issue. And marketing successfully sways people every single day. So, maybe it is time to put our marketing to better use, and convince people to return to native foods.