• Jennifer Jewell

FIBERSHED: GROWING A HEALTHIER ECONOMY & ENVIRONMENT, with REBECCA BURGESS



Rebecca Burgess is a gardener, weaver and natural dyer. She is the Executive Director of Fibershed, the chair of the Carbon Cycle Institute, and the author of two books - her newest is FIBERSHED: Growing a Movement of Farmers, Fashion Activists, and Makers For a New Textile Economy.


She joined us for this conversation in honor of Earth Day, from the studios of KWMR HomeGrown radio in Point Reyes Station, CA.


A fibershed is the supply chain starting from the soil that grows the plants or animals that grow the fibers that are processed into the textiles all around us, our guest today, Rebecca Burgess, envisions a world in which our own local fibersheds improve our resiliency, our economies, our environments right where we are. In our conversation, she shares her own journey story of awakening and actions and she share with us her ideas and work to creatively rebuild local economies - and in turn the environment -around the fibers we all use every day all around us.


It is a little crazy to listen to this conversation recorded with Rebecca in early March, just as I was headed out to The Earth in Her Hands book tour – the novel Coronovirus Covid-19 was just bringing the globe to halt and we here in the US were two weeks from seeing the very first stay-home orders.


The importance of this conversation – in looking at and illuminating the many ways in which our world has become less flexible and creatively responsive to crises such as these due to how multinational many of our supply chains are, is fearsome and fascinating. As Rebecca notes, truths we could not see are being illuminated in this moment.

I love Rebecca and Fibershed’s baseline question: how do we create more economic resiliency and simultaneously work with managed landscapes (like agriculture and gardens) to become net carbon sinks so that agriculture is no longer 23% of the worlds greenhouse gas omissions but where agricultural land becomes valuable location where we sink some of these emissions through better practices such as cover cropping, wind breaks, hedgerows - a world in which soil conserving practices are intergrated into our cultural landscapes.

Some of the answers to how we do this are of course right in front of us – are our farms, our purchasing power which affirms those farms, and are own home landscapes helping to grow food, medicine, beauty, habitat? Are they actively working to sequester carbon? Because they could be – and right now. The importance of our farmland and home garden spaces to all of our collective lives has never been more clear.

We can see our gardens – every garden hour we invest, ever gardening dollar we allocate (which based on this conversation COULD in fact include the many dollars we spend on the textiles in our lives!) in this illuminating moment – as valuable economic driving forces for change.

Good medicine for our times, right?


Join us again next week when we continue our Earth Day celebrations to round out the month of April, in a conversation with Uli Lorimer Director of Horticulture at Garden In The Woods, of the Native Plant Trust based in Massachusetts, and he was previously curator of Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Native Flora Garden.


There are soooooo many ways people engage in and grow from the cultivation of their places.




RELATED EPISODES INCLUDE:


- IN SEARCH OF THE CANARY TREE, DR. LAUREN E. OAKES


- WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, WILD YARDS PROJECT, DAVID NEWSOME


- SOIL FOOD WEB, DR. ELAINE INGHAM


Thinking out Loud this week...

Ok So thinking out loud this week –

I have always been an advocate for all of us gardeners - ever more urgently - giving ourselves the permission slips we sometimes need to justify going out to the garden – for our work there, our thinking and art and craft, our engagement with the more than human and the mindset adjustment we find there.

Sports fans are very sad to have had Baseball season, Basketball and now the Olympics canceled – we gardeners are very sad to have had the Chelsea Flower Show canceled, to have most of our botanic gardens and floral design studios shuttered. But gardening is on – and Rebecca Burgess reminds us that tending to the plants that have living roots in the soil and photosynthesizing leaves in the air helps to offset carbon, in addition planting and deadheading (or harvesting) our flowers and vegetables to keep producing offers more food and flowers for us, more resources to birds and insects AND it helps to sequester carbon….and so – now more than ever – for food, for medicine, for sanity and for JOY – go out into the garden my friends – tend your plant friends and as always they will care for you in return.


Take care of yourselves and of each other – which includes all of our living creatures – wash your hands – and but also keep getting them good and dirty in the garden as you are able.


Together we grow!



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