Book Review: Gaia's Garden

Gaia's Garden book

One of the books that has been most influential in my sustainability journey so far is not really about climate change. It’s a gardening book. Gaia’s Garden teaches the methods and building blocks for a type of garden that goes by many names - “ecological garden, permaculture, forest garden,” etc. It borrows ideas from traditional and indigenous agricultural practices and places them in the context of a typical modern yard. It’s full of helpful diagrams and plant lists and helps you think through designing a garden as an ecosystem, rather than just a collection of plants.

One of the points it makes over and over again is how important it is to think about the ways you can make beneficial connections between the different elements of your landscape and home. From companion planting, to rainwater collection, to composting, the more you can cycle resources through your landscape and find a use for anything that might be considered “waste” in a more segmented system, the more your landscape mimics nature and the healthier and more diverse it will be.

These ideas have don’t have to just apply to gardens. This book has taught me to think more carefully about my own place in the ecosystems I belong to. Am I making connections that are beneficial to others and world around me, or am I cut off from my community in a way that creates unnecessary waste or takes more than my fair share of resources? The truth about living sustainably is that it is better for everyone and everything. A flourishing planet really does mean more flourishing people.

So whether you need some inspiration about how beautifully nature is designed to work together, or need a good list of nitrogen-fixing plants. I encourage you to take a look at Gaia’s Garden. I figure we have a whole planet to save, but my own backyard is a good place to start. I have yet to plant my forest garden, but that’s the goal, and I’m excited to see how much more I become connected to my own little piece of this earth along the way.