Sustainable food and farming part VI: Ecological \”rule\” number three – enhance biological diversity


We are finally at Ecological Rule Number Three: Enhance Biological Diversity. In my previous two posts, I explored:

1. Ecological “Rule” Number One – Use Current Solar Income


2. Ecological “Rule” Number Two – Waste Equals Food

For an ecological system to optimize its use of solar power and cycle nutrients and energy (rules one and two), there needs to be many different sorts of plants and animals in the system (biodiversity).  We might extend this rule in a social system to value social diversity as well.  Here I am presenting this rule to my Sustainable Living class at the University of Massachusetts. Lets watch….

The three ecological design principles as expressed by William McDonough that I have been sharing are:

  1. Use current solar income
  2. Cycle everything (waste = food)
  3. Enhance biological diversity (and since people are a part of ecosystems this means social diversity as well)

While some production systems (such as Permaculture) apply ecological principles to a set of practices, it seems to me that we need to understand the underlying principles upon which ecological systems are built, so that we can \”re-invent\” agriculture using these principles.  The first step in re-inventing a new ecological system, might be to understand and hopefully become free from the current mechanistic world view that so dominates our thinking.

In this next video clip, I introduce students to my garden and then listen in on a  conversation while a disenchanted physicist (from the movie Minkwalk) explains the dominant mechanistic worldview…… this is fun – check it out!

If you are still with me, you might be asking \”what is this new way of looking at life we are talking about?\” What might a \”non-mechanistic\” worldview look like, and how might it make a difference in how we think and act?

In my next post, I\’ll explore more deeply the ecological worldview and how it applies to farming and to living.

For now, have you seen examples of this mechanistic way of thinking in your own life?  Please share your thoughts in the comments box below.


I’d appreciate it if you would share this post with your friends.  And for more ideas, videos and challenges along these lines, please join my Facebook Group; Just Food Now. And go here for the rest of this series of posts.