For centuries the “young folks” learned from the “old folks.” No more. Well, in rare occasion there is a young one who sees value in what the older ones know. What a sad mistake. We all learn from each other everyday, and to say differently would be a mistake. We all need each other.

In a world that’s completely dumped into the same “egg basket,” I’m afraid. I’m from a time of solid pieces of tangible stuff. I don’t trust the “cloud” or any of its components. I feel like there’s one person holding the egg basket and they will trip and fall. The fallibility of humanity is huge.

I’m a believer in Nature and the life-giving lessons we will learn if we only take the time to do so. The simple act of observing can and will change your mind if you are willing to learn. I know, for sure, that we cannot and will not ever control nature, no matter what the “experts” say. Nothing is fixed in stone except death and taxes. As long as we’re human, and alive, and our brain works, we can change our thinking, and maybe our destiny.

We’ve reached a scary place in our progress. We’ve depleted our natural resources, which we must have to survive ... period. The critters in our environment know and have been trying to tell us.

What can we do? Start by being willing to look at possibilities. Don’t be rigid or self-focused when it comes to agriculture. Observation of daily activities on a given piece of growth is a great place to start.

Are you hooked to a tradition of generations of farming? No matter what the tradition, no matter what the family tools sitting out in the field, there are known facts when it comes to knowing how we affect the soil.

Nature does not till. She does not break up the microbial web that thrives just beneath the surface. Just as in medicine and all manner of science, agriculture has followed whatever is popular, and profitable to the masses. The truth of the matter gets squelched. The truth is nature knew better and we will be better to observe and follow what works with nature.

No-till is one of the first components. Layer on lots of anything that breaks down — paper, cardboard, leaf mulch, hay and straw, or whatever rots — and keep right on layering on. Plant in the midst of the organic stuff. What happens? Moisture is retained, temperature is regulated, soil doesn’t splash up on plants bringing diseases, plants become much more resilient, and the yield is better. It’s far less work, and less having to look for problems to solve.

Our American ancestors knew to work with natural forces. They dug fish offings to the side of plants, put any kind of rotting matter in the gardens because they believed in the power of regeneration. Here we are, so many generations later, and we’re just beginning to see regeneration in process.

At this point we’re looking at ways to re-vitalize the natural life in the soil, which equals regenerative agriculture. It can be done and is done daily by brave farmers who had no choice but to try something different if they wanted to survive. Are you interested? Do you want to know how they did it?

Check out YouTube – Greg Judy, Gabe Brown, and anything regenerative agriculture. These are real farmers who were pressed against the wall before they changed and are now successful and teaching the truth, follow Nature. She knows. They learned the hard way that working with is so much better than against her. The tips they share are amazing and helpful. They’re down-to-earth.

It doesn’t matter whether you have cattle or just a few chickens, you can do things earth-kind. The steps we take everyday can be modified so that we can make a difference daily. Take small steps. Don’t litter! Keep it in your car ‘til you get home. Know what impact your inputs are having. No matter what your waste, it impacts someone. Remember: everyone is downstream of someone.

Can you and I do better? Yes! Should we be held responsible, locally, for our actions? Yes! Is our personal garbage our own responsibility? Yes! When you clean up your “space” you’re freeing space for other humans.

Please, I just want to ask each one of you to be aware. Pay attention. Know what’s front and center in your world. It matters … to all of us.

Digging in the soil is just one way of impacting the ground. For those of us for whom that is an addiction, it’s so much more.

Life – in any form – is amazing.

Sherrie “The Dirt Girl” Ottinger is a dedicated ecologist, speaker, writer and lifetime Tennessean. All comments and questions should be emailed to

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