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  • Writer's pictureJefferson Landscape

Residential Ecology

Despite recent setbacks, never before in history have we had this level of relative economic and political freedom. With that freedom, however, comes responsibility. It is important to be ecologically responsible, even more so now, as we continue to crowd out our local wildlife and interrupt their ecosystems. Studies have just begun on residential ecosystems, and the results are not favorable. Managing residential landscapes, until recently has been a largely overlooked conservation problem.

However, we can have a relatively positive impact on a number of ecosystem elements and processes if we work together to change some of our bad habits. The way we fertilize, our use of pesticides, and the way we dispose of medications and chemicals are all important decisions we make. We can all improve the value of our wildlife as well as the natural habitat we share. Like the quality of our drinking water. Although we've crowded out several subspecies to the point of endangerment (even extinction in some cases), look around you. Mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and amphibians all live within a mile of where you and I do.

As humans we take a lot for granted. Unfortunately, the average resident exposes our local wildlife to much more than we think. The use of inorganic fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides end up in our waterways through residential drainage systems and runoff. The inappropriate or incorrect disposal of chemicals and medications not only affect our local ecosystems, they have the potential to undermine human health. It’s not something people think about. And to be fair, until recently it’s not something scientists, regulators and policy makers have thought much about either.

Similarly, farmers should not be demonized, or even blamed. Economics has put great stress on American farms, especially Californians. California is the leading agricultural producer in the United States. More than half of the nation’s fruits, nuts, and vegetables come from California. We produce 1.4 billion pounds of strawberries every year, generating 700 million dollars annually. Salinas Valley is often referred to as the “Salad Bowl of America”. This is the market force that created inorganic fertilizers.

For decades the FDA has allowed the agricultural industry (and still does) to use the same chemicals for growing our food, as they do for chemical warfare. As more and more people, public and private, have become aware of the problems inorganic farming produces, a demand for organic food has developed. Enter Sprouts, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe's. Farmer's markets are popping up everywhere. Farmers are actively seeking ways to remain competitive in the market while being responsible to the environment, vis a vis organic farming. Let's help them out. Together we can turn the tide and shift market demands in a way that will BENEFIT our Residential Ecology.

Some people think the garden in their backyard won’t make a difference. Imagine whole neighborhoods, entire communities, or an entire state full of individuals who thought that way. Now imagine how polluted the state's waterways would be.

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