What We're About
by Bill Neiman

"The first rule of intelligent tinkering
is to save all the pieces."
- Aldo Leopold

After a fifteen-year experience in nursery and landscape construction, I found myself redefining my job. I used to find happiness and comfort knowing that I was helping the earth by cleaning up behind bulldozers. I could beautify and regreen any given area with my landscaping talents. I had learned about soils, erosion and drainage. I eventually had become a licensed irrigation designer. I had hydromulched, seeded, sodded and irrigated untold acres of Bermuda and St. Augustine grass.

As I grew and matured, I realized value in native plants -- not just monetary value, but their value in preserving our water resources and providing the plant diversity which helps preserve wildlife. Insects aren't all bad, I found out. Some worms make butterflies; some bugs eat other bugs. Birds and fish depend on insects for their food. I had learned now, after spreading tons of fertilizer, that muriate of potash kills all living soil organisms, and that nitrate fertilizers pollute the groundwater. I don't even like to think about the herbicides and pesticides I've used and sold.
It is time to redefine landscaping. Americans currently use on their urban lawns more natural resources than are used in the agricultural production of the entire continents of Africa and India combined. Just as one example, up till very recently more than 10 pounds of pesticides were used per acre in Dallas, Texas alone! An average blackland cotton farmer uses less than one pound per acre -- I think the farmers can't take all the blame for groundwater pollution.

How many herbicides and pesticides and fertilizers are currently being stored in your garage? And even if you throw them away, where will they go? The Dallas-Fort Worth landfill is right alongside the bank of the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, between the suburbs of Carrollton and Lewisville. Not even a tree separates the water from the landfill. Where is the landfill in your town?

It is time for all Americans to adopt a code of land ethics. The Native Americans based many of their decisions on how a particular action might affect the next seven generations. If it could be determined that no negative impact would be created, only then was the action approved.

I want to provide alternatives for people who would actually like to DO something about their environment. By now, we all know that we have problems with the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. We understand that the earth is being abused and mistreated. There is so much talk, but very little is put into action. Radio, television and newsprint point out the problems; the rainforest disappears by the minute. But precious little information is available still, that provides real alternatives and answers.

I have been forced to find some answers, especially in my work with organic farming. I learned to use beneficial insects, foliar spraying of plants with fish emulsions and seaweed
extracts. I've been forced to look at native plants for landscaping, as water supplies become scarcer and more unaffordable.

Much is said about "releafing" America, but little is said about what species we should be planting. Turn to native plants in your area or bioregion. The answers were known by the Native people. We must now piece together what we can, from what remains. Our jobs are more than to preserve and protect. We must reclaim and restore. But the most important job we have is to educate. We need to educate ourselves, each other, and especially our children. We must set the example.

I am in the fields, sowing the seeds and cultivating the crops. I am biting the dust, pulling the old Allis Chalmers combine. I am in the barn, forking the seed as it dries. I am in the classrooms and auditoriums sharing my experience. This is how I have chosen to earn my living.

I am thankful for your interest in our work. I have great joy in my heart when I see these seeds and products used to restore and sustain our environment. May many children be led by your example. May many generations come to be thankful for what you have planted and protected.

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