Are there studies on environmental benefits of gardens?

Discussion in 'Plants: Science and Cultivation' started by Greenbed, Aug 2, 2013.

  1. Greenbed

    Greenbed Member

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    Are there studies on environmental benefits of gardens?

    Although it is not a garden, nor a study, the closest thing I have found is this:

    In 2009, Earthbound Farm’s organic farming operations on more than 33,000 acres will:

    • Avoid use of over 305,000 pounds of toxic and persistent pesticides
    • Avoid use of nearly 10.3 million pounds of synthetic fertilizers
    • Conserve an estimated 1.6 million gallons of petroleum by avoiding use of petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides
    • Sequester carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, at an estimated rate of 3,670 pounds per acre each year. For Earthbound Farm, that’s equal to taking about 7500 cars off the road.

    http://www.foodequipmentnews.com/20...farm-reduces-its-environmental-footprint.html


    Thank you in advance for your responses.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 2, 2013
  2. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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    I would suppose that the stated benefits (which as you mention are not backed by any studies) depend on what is measured, or more accurately, what is excluded. It is worth remembering that every garden, or farmer's field, was once forest or some other 'native' habitat which is completely denuded and re-made into a garden, or crop row, or WHY, and often a monoculture at that. When this is considered, the conclusion looks radically different. The stated benefits with the Earthbound operation are relative to conventional agriculture, not the original habitat, so instead of 'environmental benefit' we really have 'relative benefit', or put differently, 'has less of a negative impact'. The very act of farming/gardening is immensely impactful on whatever was there before, or what would be if the farm was left fallow for a period of years, and a typical succession could occur. In this context, it is worth noting that organic farming requires much more land than intensive, conventional agriculture does, so any benefits must be weighed against this greater need for cleared land.

    So...a garden is more beneficial than a parking lot, but less beneficial than a forest. Approaches to farming and gardening which employ perennial polycultures (forest gardening, permaculture, etc.) might actually demonstrate real benefits, rather than "better than ________" benefits, but this is (presently) a fringe approach that may or may not actually be able to feed millions/billions.

    However, if we continue to take a relative approach, a garden might be more beneficial in a regional way: as 'native' habitat is degraded, and with it forage plants and the like, gardens high in diversity, with concentrations of forage plants both local and 'exotic' might act as vital 'nodes' for local fauna facing loss of forage elsewhere.

    And if we dare be so bold as to consider humans as natural (not being, after all, extra-terrestrial), and therefore a part of the environment, then the assessment of benefits changes again, as the sustenance of the human species benefits our place in the scheme, increasing this species' forage and habitat. Not the whole assessment, nor the system as a whole, but as much a part as smelts, frogs, and bees.

    So I suppose this is really all just a long way of saying: depends on how, and what, you measure. Clearly, though, there are less impactful ways to garden/farm. Which isn't so much of a benefit, as it is an improvement.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2013
  3. Greenbed

    Greenbed Member

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    woodschmoe,

    Thank you for your well thought out reply to my question.

    I appreciate it.
     

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