Skip to main content

Thursday Snapshot: Aldo Leopold Foundation

A quote from Leopold on the grounds of the foundation.

Earlier this year we visited the Aldo Leopold Foundation. We had just watched a short documentary about his life and work, Green Fire, at my hometown library and were deeply moved by it. The similarities to my husband's family's efforts to restore habitat on family land struck us, but for me the film reminded me of what is best about my home state and region. There is a great deal that worries me at the moment and many things that I struggle with, yet what brought all of us together in that room was a love for place. It was a kind of comfort then, and my memory of the discussion afterward reminds me that there is good work underway and in many places.

We were also surprised to realize that the Aldo Leopold Foundation and the shack where Leopold wrote his seminal work, The Sand County Almanac, was less than 20 miles away. We drove there the next day along a road I walked as a child with my grandmother and past Pine Island, a refuge I often visited with my family in the fall to take in the vast numbers of geese that paused there on their annual migration.

I read The Sand County Almanac in my final year of university and, like so many others around the world, found that it opened my mind to a sort of common sense approach to living in the world that I had long felt was lacking. Leopold describes the changes in the landscape throughout the seasons as well his family efforts to restore a land decimated by logging and overgrazing. He had come to understand that while these practices were grounded in economics, they were also shortsighted in many ways. His years of experience, the successes and failures, taught him that we needed to work in concert with all parts of nature, even those like the wolf, that we did not like. The resulting Land Ethic is one that is simple but complex and multi-faceted and one that can be challenging to live up to at times. However, most things that are worthwhile doing are similar until we get the hang of them. I'm certainly game to keep at it.


Popular posts from this blog

Finding Heirloom Seeds in Japan

Drying pods of heirloom Hutterite Soup Beans. Since moving to Japan eight years ago, one of my greatest challenges as a farmer-gardener has been to find heirloom or open-pollinated seeds. The majority of seeds available are not GMO (genetically modified organisms) as Japan, at this point, doesn't accept this material. Most seeds, though, are nearly all F1 varieties. Heirloom and F1 Varieties In plant breeding, F1 is the name given to the first generation of a cross between two true breeding parents. For example, if I decide to cross an Amish Paste Tomato with another heirloom variety tomato such as Emmy, in hopes of getting a gold paste tomato, the resulting generation of fruit is F1. In order to get that tomato of my culinary dreams, I'll need to choose members of that first generation that are headed in a direction I like - early ripening, medium-sized fruit, good taste - and save their seeds. I'll plant them and repeat the process again and again over time unti

Satoimo: One of Japan's Favorite Slimy Things

Satoimo in all their hairy glory. This post first appeared in slightly different form on Garden to Table as part of the 2012  Blogathon . The website has since moved on to the ether, but the post is still a good one. After all, people here are still eating satoimo on a daily basis, and many others are just seeing these little potato-like objects for the first time. Enjoy! Satoimo is one of Japan's odder vegetables. Under it's rough, slightly furry skin is white flesh that is a little bit slimy even raw, and with a gentle nutty flavor.* Baked, grilled, steamed with dashi, or deep-fried satoimo stands well on its own or paired up with other vegetables and meats in a wide variety of soups and stews . (The leaves are also edible.) Satoimo stores well, and like any root crop worth the effort, stocks are just running low on this household favorite as the farmers in my area of Tokyo get ready to put a new crop in the ground in May. I cannot say I was a fan of this l

Goma Ai Shingiku - Sesame and Chrysanthemum Greens

Last week I had the pleasure of helping some friends work in their parents garden not too far away. Tucked behind the house, the garden sits on a former house lot. When it came up for sale about five years ago, my friend's father jumped at the chance. Open land in Tokyo can be hard to find and expensive, but for a retired professional looking for a little spot to till in the city it was an opportunity to good to pass up. Now, it is a garden to envy. As we came through the gate rose, lily, and peony blooms greeted us with great shouts of color while rows of vegetables stood tidily at attention on the sunny center stage. Small fruit trees along with one of the biggest sansho trees I've seen yet stood quietly here and there. Near waist-high sweet corn, bushy young potato plants, cherry tomatoes, eggplants, and beans were preparing their summer fruits, while a handful of still quite luscious looking winter vegetables like komatsuna, mizuna, and kabu held one last ro