Our mutual goal is the ready availability of plant medicine for everyone, and that may seem impossible with so many people on the planet and so much damage done. Yet despite overwhelming odds, little islands of ecological health are being maintained all over the earth. Together they form humanity’s life preservers. High Falls Gardens is one, we are part of a network across North America, and now are becoming connected to our counterparts in China.

In China

In November 2009 a symposium on ecological agriculture was held in Changsha, Hunan, sponsored by the local, provincial and national governments, and also The Institute for Postmodern Development of China led by Dr. Zhihe Wang, who invited High Falls Gardens to give a presentation. Thanks to prompt, expert assistance on the slides and translations from Professor Aizhong Li and Dean Jason Wright at Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in Seneca Falls NY, we were able to respond to this opportunity. See the presentation HERE.

How the invitation came about is an interesting part of the story, told HERE. Our experience reinforced the vision of human societies arrayed in a series of fractal patterns throughout the world. Differences of race, nationality and creed seem to drop away as we confront the fallout from collective behaviors that endanger our survival and that of the countless plants and animals on whom we depend.

China is an ancient originator of ecological agriculture, but more recently has suffered from the collective Grand Delusion known as modern industrialism. The devastating effects of this mindset upon agriculture and the environment are evident. Dr. Wang has called for a Second Enlightenment, an “invitation to everyone present to contribute wisdom aimed at finding practical, comprehensive, and profound solutions.”

In Hunan we learned how the Yin-Yang dynamics of the paradigm shift are every bit as active in China as in the West. Agribusiness claims genetic engineering is “environmentally friendly” with just as much impudence (not to mention imprudence) in either hemisphere. Chinese herbs are juicy prey for the Big Pharma gold rush. (The debate over whether medicine should be grown rather than manufactured is perhaps more active in China than in America.)

The all-important question now is how to stop pollution and begin to remediate our soils, air and water. To do that we must find economic solutions to keep skilled farmers and stewards on the land.

Design and Health of the Setting

As for ecological agriculture in China, we must distinguish the beauty of their models – the design of the settings – from the tragic fact that in many cases the design elements are polluted with industrial waste. In other words, they did all the right things for a long, long time and now it’s compromised.

We in North America are groping for models of self-contained ecological settings. Many settings are polluted, but almost all are degraded in terms of biodiversity. In a sense, we’ve done the wrong things for 400 years. In the Americas the agriculture derived from the Europeans was and still is a colonial export model. Today, instead of sending cotton and tobacco back to Europe, we provide GMO corn and soybeans to the giant corporations that manufacture fake food. U.S. government agricultural policy is devoted to commodity subsidies at the expense of small and medium-scale farms attempting to serve local community needs. (The 2012 Farm Bill is the next opportunity to change this structure.)

It’s time for people in China and America to recognize their commonalities, come together and help each other. Perhaps the failure of the Copenhagen climate talks indicates that national governments are “too big” to solve environmental problems. Perhaps the solutions must be found by small groups of people, working in their small-is-beautiful fractal settings, who create the change and then communicate their successes to others.

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