Woman Meditate

Getting Closer to the Dirt

May 11, 2023
Christopher Pepe

Like many people at Praecipio, Ryan balances a role in tech with his love of the outdoors. Finding themselves on what was once a horse farm, and wanting to be closer to the land and their food, Ryan's family does more each year. The remote work economy and increasing availability of fast internet have let many tech workers connect more deeply with the natural world and our place in it.

His goal is to create a privacy screen from the neighboring property, as well as produce some of their own food. In planting multiple varieties of trees he has also built resilience into this new grove. In just a few short years the peaches, birch, and nearly two dozen Norway and White Spruce will create a thick living fence (and maybe a future Christmas tree or two). They will also provide shelter, food, and cover from predators for the local fauna. Diversity has a way of creating diversity - different trees will attract different birds and the insects they eat, and the increased fertility of the soil from the animal's waste will attract more insects, worms, and new types of plants. Those plants will live, die, be eaten, and otherwise cycle nutrients from deep in the soil up to the surface. Over time this ecosystem will grow more diverse and more resilient as more and more organisms find some excess nutrients and grow their population to consume them.

As these trees mature, Ryan's family will expand their husbandry to include a vegetable garden and raising chickens. A vegetable garden is one of the easiest ways to directly connect with the natural world and the food that sustains us. Even container gardening puts you in direct contact with the foods you love, and the challenges of producing it. There is no choice but to get dirt on your hands, where you directly engage the microorganisms that make our entire existence possible. There is a special feeling when digging in living soil that is missing from just plain old dirt.

Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed... Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.

--Henry David Thoreau

By planting new trees Ryan has created a benefit for future generations of humans, plants, and other animals alike. The least of the benefits is that those trees will inhale carbon directly from the air and turn it into wood. Of far greater impact is the ecosystem that was just born, the cool shade it will provide, the water and air it will clean, and the connection that Ryan's family will create with this half-human, half-natural space.


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