Letter to the Editor: Integration, not segregation

By: Braden Trauth

Integration is a fundamental principle of Permaculture and an ideal that America has sought to espouse, but only started to make true headway on during the Civil Rights movement 50 years ago.

Unfortunately, we are still healing that segregated past as we learn to integrate our communities not just racially, but also economically. The ghettos of the past that were a result of red-lining, which limited bank mortgages to certain neighborhoods, are still working on integrating and rising above those last strings of segregation in our country. This is critical to a harmonious society that doesn’t need large security apparatuses to maintain “safety” from a disenfranchised public. This is the challenge that is exemplified at the basketball court fencing project.

Although it is not just exemplified there, it is exemplified with every security apparatus that seeks to segregate us from those in need. I am saddened to see a world where agreements like NAFTA give more rights to material goods to cross borders than our human brothers and sisters, especially when they are literally starving, as is the case in Haiti.

In order to overcome this, it requires a softening of our hearts to truly know our neighbors. This can only come about through true empathy and understanding of them and their situation. This is achieved by earnestly listening to them and their needs and a willingness to lend a hand when they are in need, especially when our cup is overflowing. This builds trust, which is the glue of community.

This is true love in action. This is one of the many goals of the Permaculture-based Edible Forest Garden we will be designing with XU students and the surrounding neighborhood over the winter and then installing on Victory Parkway come spring time. Permaculture is an Ethical Design system that teaches us how to design sustainable lifestyles modeled after the cooperative principles of nature. It achieves this through its fundamental ethics of earth care, people care and “fair share” design methodologies and principles, which include “integration, not segregation.”

Another principle is “diversity = stability = fertility = abundance” which is juxtaposed to our monoculture-based agriculture, which is very fragile compared to the stability of a forest. These are a couple of the fundamental principles of creating a sustainable agriculture as well as a sustainable society on planet Earth.

This garden will be modeled after a 5-to 20-year-old forest, which is the most productive model in our ecosystem. It will integrate the elements that make our forests balanced including providing its own fertilizer through plants and microorganisms, providing habitat for beneficial insects that will predate on pests as well as developing soil microbiology and integrating plants to mitigate weeds.

These fundamentals will provide a palette to provide diverse organic food and other resources for XU and the surrounding neighborhood while requiring minimal input to maintain those harvests, just like a forest, or some may even say, like a Garden of Eden.

We invite any and all people associated with XU and the surrounding neighborhood to come and participate in the creation of this garden as well as the maintenance and harvesting of it. We hope you will come and pick out obscure fruits, nuts and berries as well as your old time favorites to provide great organic snacks for generations to come.

– Braden Trauth, farmer working with Xavier University Sustainability

To learn more, please contact Braden Trauth at OMValleyPermaculture@ gmail.com.