Adam, Eve and Trathen Heckman! The Garden Meditation by DailyActs.org
Adam, Eve and Trathen Heckman! The Garden Meditation by DailyActs.org

Contrast the typical lawn and shrub landscaping of most suburban homes with the permaculture landscape of Trathen and Mary Heckman's Petaluma bungalow.

A lawn may look green, but it uses hundreds of gallons of water, requires constant maintenance and doesn't give anything back. But the yard that surrounds the Heckmans' home is not just green in appearance, it is ecologically green.

It is a lush food forest with more than 200 varieties of medicinal and edible plants that produced over 1,000 pounds of food last year using low-water growing techniques. The garden is alive with bees, chickens and beneficial insects. As a site on one of Daily Acts' sustainability tours, the garden also inspires others to be proactive about transforming their own environment.

According to Trathen Heckman, the founding director of Daily Acts, the rich ecosystem surrounding his house is an example of "the amazing things that can happen when a lot of small actions are aligned with nature's wisdom and a nurturing community."

Founded in 2002, Petaluma-based nonprofit Daily Acts works to achieve its visionary goal of a "healthy, just and reverent culture" through very practical applications. Knowing that the challenge of solving worldwide ecological crises could be overwhelming, Daily Acts' message starts with a simple statement: "Every choice matters."

Heckman sees Earth Day as an ideal opportunity for people to take a small first step that can have long-term implications for the health and sustainability of our planet. He encourages people to begin by identifying an area of interest. It may be growing food, green building, or conserving water.

Just as is the case with Heckmans' own house, the action they take becomes a model that can be used to educate others, who in turn, replicate the model in their community. As more people become empowered with knowledge and skills, a ripple effect takes place that saves resources, increases local self-reliance and changes public policies.

"Together we learn, share and act, turning city lawns into food forests, planting edible ecosystems, creating greywater systems and transforming our lives through the power of community aligned in acts of care and celebration," he says.

These principles will be demonstrated in the 350 Garden Challenge on May 15-16. Community organizations, municipalities, citizens and businesses will work together to transform 350 Sonoma County landscapes into beautiful gardens that grow food, save water and support local businesses.

Taking its name from the worldwide effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 350 parts per million, the goal of the 350 Garden Challenge is to create beautiful gardens in every type of living situation. The project is a collaboration of Daily Acts, iGROW Sonoma, GoLocal, Living Mandala and the Sonoma County Water Agency.

"We'll renew old gardens and create innovative demonstration gardens of all different types: apartment patios, schools, elder living, churches, city landscapes and front yards. There's no garden too big or too small to be involved," says Heckman.

To learn more about the 350 Garden Challenge and how to participate by volunteering or registering your garden, Heckman suggests attending a community gathering at the Seed Bank, 199 Petaluma Blvd. North on Wednesday, April 28 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. More information is also available at www.igrowsonoma.org on the 350 Garden Challenge link.

An ongoing focus of Daily Acts is to inspire action through education. Through-out the summer months, Daily Acts offers numerous sustainability tours and workshops. Some of the workshops offered include "Transform Your Thirsty Lawn," "Canning and Drying the Bounty" and "Eco-literacy in Action."

More information about Daily Acts programs, partners, sustainability tours and workshops can be found in its catalog, Ripples, available at the Seed Bank and Whole Food stores and by visiting www.dailyacts.org.

Article / Writer Credit - Colleen Rustad, argusa at arguscourier dot com

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