Viva la Intervale!

Everyone is interested in building vibrant communities because they are safe, healthy, and alive with possibilities; people are employed, they are engaged, they are helpful and concerned about others.  These are exactly the qualities that are described in the Intervale story that begins with rebuilding the neglected, polluted soil that was once so rich.  The complexity that has developed in that community from the simple initiative of rebuilding soil, reducing community waste, and producing community food is astounding.

The Intervale story shows how complex systems develop from the foundation of healthy soils, unlike the pedosphere file, which tells how this process happens scientifically, but not in a way that anyone could relate to human communities.  Neither does the Organic Trade Association, which provides information about organic soil building methods, stating the benefits and outcomes quite clearly, but it is doubtful that this information would be interesting to anyone who does not farm or garden or manage land.  And the dead zone is such a catastrophic example of bad soil management, it is really difficult to face, much less relate to.

It strikes me that the Intervale initiative contrasts sharply with other efforts relating to the pedosphere which have been highly visible and controversial.  Monsanto, for example, seeks to promote genetically modified seeds with the assertion that they will grow the crops that will feed the world.  The Keystone Pipeline also comes to mind; it is similarly touted as a project that will create jobs and help communities.  But these are examples of inherently unsustainable injections of energy from resources that are not self-generating and do not create new possibilities in communities.  Through positive feedback loops, they create resource dependence, destructive energy cycles, and community stagnation.

What is needed are more examples of the community building that comes from reclaiming and rebuilding the natural resources within a community.  The Interval example is thus far a rare pioneering effort that sooner than later needs to be commonplace.  If this model became an integral part of every community, everyone would protect the soil and invest in it because it would be a tangible, sustainable source of energy in the form of food, waste management, and possibly even electrical production.

Laurie “Duck” Caldwell

AUNE, MBA 2013



2 Responses to Viva la Intervale!

  1. pchandler725 says:

    The Intervale was hit hard by floods this year. Yet, a strong system has resilience and already these farmers are planning for another year. Resilience in the system is critical to sustainability.

    • Actually a lot of the farmers are giving up on the Intervale- it’s pretty sad to see how many open farm spots are being advertised at the moment- but the question going around is after four serious floods at the Intervale last year alone (and a major one the year before)- is it really the best place to be farming anymore?

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