Biomimicry and being a functioning part of the land

Let’s talk a bit about biomimicry and our role in ecosystems.

Last week, give or take, I got a sarcastic comment from someone. It was in response to me pointing out, once again, that animals (and fungi) are a necessary part of the decay cycle and thus in nutrient movement and accumulation in farm systems. The response, something to the effect of “guess all that meat and dead wood just piled up in the woods without benevolent farmers to throw some manure around”, illustrated a lack of understanding regenerative and integrated farm ecosystems like we keep talking about here. Because really that attempted “gotcha” was perfectly illustrating my point: that functional ecosystems use animals and microbes to break things down and reuse fertility.

The assumption, I think, is that regenerative farmers believe that their intervention is necessary for natural functions to occur; the reality is that we’re mimicking what works because we need a full ecosystem to produce in regenerative and resilient ways.

We need to stop viewing farming/gardening/whatever as something separate from our ecology as much as we need to stop viewing OURSELVES as separate from our ecology. Once we start from this understanding, that we’re animals functioning within an ecology (or perhaps dysfunctioning in many cases), we can approach our methods of interacting with and drawing subsistence from the ecology and other creatures in it from the correct angle. Working against ecology is precisely why industrial farming or any monocrops systems degrade the soil and damage ecosystems.

Biomimicry in this case refers to modeling systems on natural processes that exist in functioning ecosystems. And, given that we are parts of our ecology and aim to be a part of it in as healthy and resilient manner possible, it only makes sense to replicate/encourage these processes within the subsistence infrastructure we’re building.

We’re a species with an outstanding amount of effect on our ecosystems, and it doesn’t have to be negative. It does need to follow along with the basic principles of how ecosystems function, and one thing that means is facilitating decay and nutrient cycling the same way robust ecosystems do: animals and microbes (and I guess fire sometimes but I don’t know that much about using it in that way). Willingly doing anything else is just evidence of misunderstanding ecology and our role in it.


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