We define “ecology” as the interrelationships of living organisms, including humans, with one another and their physical environment. Each unique place on Earth has its own ecology: from the abundant rainforest to the smallest drop of water; the large commercial farm to the small home garden.
An ecological approach to thinking provides:
We need to consider all of the macronutrients and micronutrients required for the healthy functioning of all living organisms that contribute to a healthy food producing ecology.
We need to work with the movement of all nutrients through the WHOLE ECOLOGY, focusing on the interrelated dynamics of these processes.
We should ALWAYS use natural biological processes to facilitate the movement of nutrients through the food chain, as this is the most effective, efficient and environmentally friendly approach.
The potential quantity and quality of nutrients may vary greatly between different varieties of a plant or breeds of an animal. These variations are caused by each species' unique genetic signature and how these genetics have been changed over time.
To produce nutrient-rich food, it is critical to use plants and animals that have inherently strong genetics. If a plant or animal lacks the appropriate genetics, it simply will not be nutrient-rich. Whether we are working with vegetables, grains, berry fruit, fruit-bearing trees, mammals or birds, the principle is the same.
It is essential to work with a holistic, whole-systems view when working with an ecological approach. A garden's ecology is composed of many elements, all interrelated and all influencing what happens. You can never work with just one element in isolation or expect one action to be "the answer" to a problem when the goal is to achieve an abundance of nutrient-rich food. Although on the surface this ecological approach may seem more "complex" than the more common mechanical, reductionist approach, by using a range of approprate tools, in the right order, it actually can be very straight forward and, in our experience, will always give you a higher chance of success.
Design is a process that gives us a framework to be able to easily and practicaly apply our principles to any situation and personal circumstances. It involves a series of steps: defining your intentions & goals; assessing the situation; creating an action plan that takes existing elements and combines them with new and desired ones; implementing the action plan; observing the results. You then repeat the process as often as required to allow for changes over time. In a garden, working with the seasons of the year, this is usually an annual activity.
Design is an absolutely key tool that makes working with an ecological approach easier, and it always contributes to giving you the best chance of success.
Although we have built up an understanding of growing over many years, there is always something new to learn. As we are always working with a dynamic, "living" ecology that is always changing, we have found that conducting research into the basic science involved and running practical experiments to see how to apply it has become core to how we work. We acknowledge and are able to learn from all those whose research and experiments over the centuries have contributed to our understanding today and are aware that we can now utilize a range of modern tools to progress our understanding and practical applications even further in the pursuit of our goals.
To be a successful gardener capable of producing nutrient-rich food requires building a strong base of appropriate knowledge, practical skills and clear ways of thinking that become integrated through experience. This can be a substaintal undertaking, but if given sufficient time it becomes simple and straight-forward.
So, we believe it is very important that you should allow yourself time to grow into becoming a gardener at a pace you can comfortably manage, allowing for your personal circumstances. Gardening to produce nutrient-rich food is a life long activity, so there is no rush. Good steady progress over time is the goal.