Sustainability > People Power
People Power: 1) Using human minds and bodies to accomplish the task at hand. 2) Preferring to do fewer jobs well, slowly, and by hand. 3) Becoming proficient in the use of non-petroleum powered tools.
Yard: There is something calm and meditative about listening to someone using a scythe. It wooshes through the grass and leaves behind cut vegetation and a clean smell. You can use it while the grass is wet and the day is still cool. It isn’t hard work once you’ve learned the basics and you have a sharp blade. But it isn’t easy either. You must put your body into motion. You should keep your mind on your work.
An old fashioned reel mower works about the same. But if your ground isn’t even or you have clumpy grass, it is a much harder task. You still get the cut vegetation and you are still free from petroleum and oil smells. You still need sharp blades and to keep your mind on your business.
Or you could wait until almost noon and fire up the gas powered lawnmower. It leaves behind cut vegetation and an aroma of burning gas and oil. You still get the job done, but it isn’t nearly as pleasant an experience.
There’s actually another way that I dream of. . . . This is the front yard of my dreams. Planting enough trees that the grass doesn’t really grow. Encouraging the clover to grow instead of grass. Having enough garden beds, pollinator beds, chicken yards, and rabbit yards that mowing is only necessary along thought out paths.
Gardens: We use the people powered principle in the garden as well. This is a combination of a couple of my garden principles: stay out of the growing beds and people powered.
Our kitchen garden beds are each 5 foot wide by 20 foot long. They are set in a grid that is (currently) 5 beds wide by 3 beds long. Between each bed is a 2 1/2 foot grass path. Our goal is to never step in the garden bed. It is just wide enough that even I (at 5’1” tall) can reach the center. It is just wide enough that you can hoe it up at the start of garden season without stepping in it. If, when planting seeds, you need to be in the middle, we use a wide board that distributes our weight evenly.
We use a long-handled hoe, a long handled spade (rarely), and a collection of small hand held tools (Each is about 12 inches long) that includes a hoe, rake, transplanting spade, shovel, hole maker, and pruners. Mostly we use our fingers. Fingers are made for pinching, pulling, tugging, and you get a lot of practice squatting and changing positions while squatting while working this way.
We have found that by not stepping in our beds and by not bringing in power tools the soil stays loose and we stay flexible as we age.