In my introductory essay in Mario Del Curto’s new book of photographs, Seeds of the Earth: The Vavilov Institute (2016), I remind readers that a century ago, plant explorers like Nikolai Vavilov, Liberty Hyde Bailey, David Fairchild and Frank Meyer were well-known public intellectuals, celebrated adventurers and valued ethnographers of farming peoples still active in the far reaches of this world.
The public was keenly interested in what unusual plants and unique cultural practices these intermediaries encountered in natural and cultural landscapes, since they spoke to potential analogs or opportunities that we might give us insight into our own home place.
In other words, their explorations were not simply about transferring the “exotic” or “other” to ones’ familiar environs, but it allowed people to imagine other ways of being and living in their own peculiar landscape.
Now, more than ever before, we have an obligation to explore previously unrecognized or undervalued possibilities for living and eating sustainably within our own landscape, rather than remaking that place to conform to notions of conventional agriculture or even of food forests borrowed from other bioregions.
This next month, I will explore what a place-based regenerative agricultural landscape might look like in the Greater Sonoran Desert region, of Arizona, the Californias, and Sonora, Mexico.
Stay tuned my friends; I’m back after a month hiatus ready to dialogue with you about some fresh ways of restoring the food producing capacity of our uncommonly beautiful home… check out this gorgeous graphic by my buddy Paul Mirocha…