One Million Gardens

Here at Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens we know the value of a garden.

We work to create welcoming habitats for wildlife with native plants. We know that when we all create healthy gardens this helps create healthy ecosystems. And healthy ecosystems create a healthy planet.

We know that native plants support local foodwebs which feed the wildlife and increases biodiversity.

We know that providing opportunities for children to be connected to nature is healthy for them, and teaches them to respect the earth and its creatures. And provides the spark that will produce our next generation of environmentalists, conservationists, and stewards of the earth.

Stewardship is defined as the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.

The health of our planet has been entrusted to our care. Do you think we’re practicing careful and responsible management? Maybe not so much, but we can learn to do better.

But this cannot happen unless each of us takes responsibility to become a steward of their own little piece of the earth.

I’ve been saying for years that if each one of us did just one thing in our gardens that would benefit wildlife, that the world would be a much healthier place. When we create welcoming habitat for wildlife we are also creating healthy ecosystems, without which we humans cannot survive.

Our gardens can feed us, support wildlife, and soothe our weary souls. Do not underestimate the power of a garden!

Dr.Vandana Shiva is an advocate of global, visionary solutions for a secure and sustainable food and energy future, and also knows the value of a garden. Watch her short video to find out why the backyard gardener is the hero in the struggle to save the planet:

I’d love to hear your ideas about how we can become better stewards of our own little piece of Mother Earth. How do you manage your garden to make the world around you a better place?

Carole Sevilla Brown lives in Philadelphia, PA, and she travels the country speaking about Ecosystem Gardening for Wildlife. Check out her new free online course Ecosystem Gardening Essentials, 15 free lessons delivered to your inbox every week.

© 2012, Carole Sevilla Brown. All rights reserved. This article is the property of Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens. We have received many requests to reprint our work. Our policy is that you are free to use a short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact form above if you have any questions.

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  1. says

    So Hopeful Carole! We can support local farmers when not growing our own food and encourage four season gardening. Here we have Winter Markets and enjoy fresh greens throughout the frigid winter. I can say for certain that any other food I buy does not come from any corporate farms. I follow my food to the source and challenge our co-op when they bring in . . . say pumpkin seeds or garlic from China. We need to ask where our food is coming from when we cannot see the farms or our own garden. I once traced all the bulk food I buy and one example was discovering a walnut farm in California. I had a lovely conversation with the grower, who shared how he moved very large cages of chickens around beneath his eighty acre organic walnut farm. The chickens were ‘free range’ beneath the cages from one walnut tree reaching towards another. I know it would be best if I did not buy any food from Calif. . . . I am working on that. It is very exciting how we are reclaiming our food in this country and helping curb climate change at the same time. We have so much power with our dollar but we do not use that power enough. Being engaged citizens is another way we can help make change. I call congress weekly on important issues that affect our lives and planet. Our reps do hear those calls as their staff keeps tabs on how many calls come in regarding issues.
    Carol Duke recently posted..A Bestiary – At Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens PART TWO

    • Linda Blossom says

      I take it a bit further than supporting local. I am in agreement with Toby Hemenway (Gaia’s Garden) that a major problem is the pressure on the native species by land gobbling agriculture and the more we use our back yards to grow food, the less will be needed commercially. Even local CSA’s must use land. There is less land occupied by people than that used to feed people especially when you take into account animals for food. No matter how organic and well intentioned, that is still taking from wildlife and fragmenting their spaces. I support local for what I cannot grow but I grow all I can. I lived for a few years in an apartment in Maryland near DC and found containers and claimed a spot of sunny land and gardened. I would not move to where there were no options. I leave those places to those who cannot grow. If one owns land it seems to me that they have some obligation to take responsibility for the fact that they must eat to live and their occupation of the land has impacted wildlife and native plants and creatures. I have half an acre and about 3/4 of that in some way is growing native plants and veggies in an integrated fashion. Perhaps avoiding processed food that contains things that are grown and hidden such as corn products can help also.

  2. says

    I too share your belief that wildlife conservation begins in our own back yard and my gardening strives to do just that. Wildlife gardening not only benefits birds, bees, butterflies, etc. but brings such joy, satisfaction, and awe to the gardener and others. Thanks for your work.

  3. says

    I’m fortunate to live in a really wonderful place for eating local, and my partner and I have made a deliberate choice to spend a lot more of our food dollar locally. It does cost more, but I suspect that it’s the most effect activism I’ve ever done.

    Besides, my vegetable growing, while enthusiastic, is also largely unskilled, and if I had to feed the whole family on it, we’d rapidly learn that man cannot live on basil alone…
    UrsulaV recently posted..I came, I saw, I composted!

  4. says

    I totally agree with Linda’s comment “If one owns land it seems to me that they have some obligation to take responsibility for the fact that they must eat to live and their occupation of the land has impacted wildlife and native plants and creatures.” How can we get our lawn-loving neighbors to buy into this?
    On our own 5 acres I’m experimenting with ‘local, native permaculture’ – no more tilling!

  5. says

    Well said Carole…I believe we must be stewards of our plot…it is what I am striving for…but the other issues about the use of fossil fuels for growing and transporting our fuel is one I am helping by growing some of my own feed even this winter indoors….
    Donna@Gardens Eye View recently posted..Simplify

  6. Denise says

    I agree with everything being said here. I just wish I was not the only person on my street who felt this way. :( I live in a gentrifying area, where an adjacent 2 acre property that supported one tiny ranch house, now boasts 3 MacMansions, 3 inground pools, one 16 car garage (seriously !) and more Macadam than you can ever imagine.

    The *grounds* are maintained by 3 different companies that employ itinerant workers who are likely illegals. Despite the Size of the crews that come to manicure and primp these properties, they are environmental wastelands. I have become a Certified Ecoscaper through so I have an education, and organization, behind me, when Inevitably, the Town is called with a complaint about my evolving Native Gardens. I have spent years simply trying to win the Invasives war.

    I have not given up, obviously. But my blood boils when each year I survey my Once Majestic Moutain Laurel, which is slowly being deprived of nutrients and light by the Privacy Hedge of Non-Native Pines.

    What I would love to see, is more awareness on the part of our Township. They hope to become a Tree City USA through the Arbor Day Foundation. I imagine all the new trees that will be planted and shudder. Why not have Local Tree Treasures instead ? Why not educate the Landscapers and the Site developers ? That is what needs to happen where I am, but awareness is arriving so slowly. I had a notion that we actually were supporting a small family of New England Cottontails. the plan was to get some spoor in the Spring and have the DNA analyzed. Unfortunately, a mature tree, and brush were removed when Pool 3 was added in Late November. I see no rabbits now.

    I will still try to do my part. But It feels like a losing battle. I am a good steward. I just wish I knew how to get the Word out to the other Stakeholders who are ignoring our local Ecosystem.

    In fact, I wish our local government would Stop offering Clean Ups for Earth Day. This dilutes the message. Going out and raking a park; removing litter And mulch is counterproductive. Once the residents have done that it is apparantly checked off the list. Meanwhile, they hire the landscapers who care more about the bottom line and the eerie green grass that screams lifeless to me. But I am the one worried about conformity. How do we get the message beyond our Choir ?

    I wish I knew.

    • says

      We who care, stand up to be counted, send a clear message. The choir sings together – and it amuses me to hear friends and neighbours who are not green in practice, but they know we are. Haven’t turned them yet, but they are at least aware, and thinking about it. Discussing a possible new computer, and he offers a low power green eco screen – because he knows WE care!

      How wonderful that you are poised with justice to defend your Native Garden from uninformed complaints! We take care to prune and tidy our bit nearest the road, against the worst complaints ;~)
      Elephant’s Eye recently posted..January garden walk

  7. Tracee Neumann says

    24 years ago i moved into my 1 acre home in the “country”. I had lived on a city lot all my life. My 1 acre seemed so huge and instead of mowing it all, my husband & I decided to ” let it grow”. There were 4 trees in the yard now there are over 100. One area did not do so well so I thought to try some wildflowers. 24 years later it is the most beautiful garden in my yard. At least 1/2 our yard is left in a natural state. I spend about 5-10 hours a year controlling weeds, trimming, replanting or reseeding, etc. And about 1000 hours enjoying the beauty it brings. We use very little pesticides and fertilizers. I only water if there is a drought. We have monarch caterpillars, nesting bluebirds, walking sticks. huge garden spiders and so many other butterflies, birds and insects. An occasional deer, groundhog,hawks and others visit too. The other neighbors in the early years also started to let things grow,but things have changed and now everyone seems to want this perfectly manicured lawn, not a blade out of place. But I stand hard and will not change my healthy yard for there chemically induced green grass. My kids are safe, my dogs can run around everyday, and its amazing what wonders show up in the gardens!!

  8. says

    We have been blessed to be able to live on 60 acres of field and forest, that has not had any pesticides or herbicides used during our 34 year tenure, and for some years before that. We garden, but we also support local farmers, as well as other local businesses. There is economic sense in this, and as far as food goes it is much more delicious. And probably nutritious too. I think it is important to our grandchildren that they have been able to enjoy and appreciate the countryside, and learn where food comes from, and also see how a tiny community works – friendship and responsibility.
    commonweeder recently posted..Cabbage – Here and There – Beijing

  9. DeAnna B says

    How do you manage your garden to make the world around you a better place?

    I replaced 90% of the lawn with native plants. I’m in the process now of removing all invasive & non native plants. I have a very small yard & every plant must benefit the local wildlife or it must go. I also going to be planting either a fruit bearing bush or tree, to feed the local birds. I only have room for one.
    I know my small garden makes a big difference to the local wildlife. I’ve created a garden that feeds several different butterfly larvae & I’ll be adding more host plants this year. I have many nectar plants that feed the local butterflies, bees & other pollinators. Last year I had hummingbirds for the first time.
    I am the only wildlife garden in the entire neighborhood. My garden is the only place for miles for butterflies to stop, rest, feed & lay their eggs.
    When I see people walking by I invite them in to see the beauty of the native plants & the life they bring to the garden. Last year I gave away every Tuberosa Milkweed seed I had. This year I’ll do the same with thing with Incarnata Milkweed, & Eastern Native Red Columbine seeds.
    I’m going to be installing 2 native plant gardens for friends who asked me to help them. My labor is free. They will purchase the plants from a local native plant nursery. I hope that others will like what they see, & incorporate some native plants into their own gardens.


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