“Liberty Garden proves that if people are free to create voluntary associations, the laws of economics and the consequence of stewardship will cause the earth to improve.” – Michael Shaw, Abundance Ecologist
By NANCY REDWINE, Sentinel Staff Writer
When Michael Shaw bought 74 acres of undeveloped coastal property in La Selva Beach in 1985, the land had been farmed, grazed, logged and used as a shooting range, a moving and storage company and a dump. The combination of grasslands, oak woodlands, riparian valley and hazelnut woodlands were overgrown with aggressive non-native plant species like French broom, pampas grass, thistles, poison hemlock and acacia.
Twenty years later — without herbicides, burning, seeds, or plantings — that same land is an oasis of native California plant species including danthonia, California poppy, miner’s lettuce, mule’s ears, owl’s clovers, tarweeds and a rare coast orchid.
Next Thursday night, Sept. 30, Shaw is giving a talk at the Museum of Natural History on Abundance Ecology, and how the theory and practice is reflected in the land he now calls Liberty Garden. His talk will be illustrated by images of his efforts and successes at releasing the native seedbank — offspring of the original plant inhabitants — that had lain in wait for anywhere from 30 to 100 years for the opportunity to bloom.
Tough by design
Because of their hard seed coats, developed to withstand dry summers, many California natives can lay dormant for decades. Shaw believes that the seeds that have bloomed in profusion in Liberty Garden were left there when the land was populated by a high percentage of native plants.
Abundance Ecology refers as well to the right to private property, which Shaw says, is essential to the health of the planet. “Free enterprise seeks and achieves the objective of ecological health, as Liberty Garden also demonstrates,” Shaw wrote on the Liberty Garden Web site. “There, a former weed lot now supports a wild wonderland with a plethora of productive native plants, which in turn support an array of indigenous species… Liberty Garden proves that if people are free to create voluntary associations, the laws of economics and the consequence of stewardship will cause the earth to improve.”
For more information on Liberty Garden, go to www.libertygarden.com
Contact Nancy Redwine at firstname.lastname@example.org
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