In Praise of (Wo)Manpower

One of the elements of sustainability and permaculture is the synthesis of tasks and the mutual benefit of action. This is how decomposition meets growth; flowers provide pest control while veggies give nourishment; and stewardship provides overall health.

In our human quest to make things ever more efficient, we've skimped on sustainability. We've replaced much of our livestock with machines, trading for example horse and plow with tractor and attachments. But the tractor doesn't give manure to the ground, and does zero to maintain soil fertility. Farm animals, living in harmony with plants, feed each other.

We use gas-powered motors to trim back hedges, mow down grass and hay a field. In the process, we reduce our own physical fitness, deny nourishment to the dirt and utilize an ever-depleted natural resource.

But what if we didn't?

Check out the insane video above of the sheer power of human. Then go ahead and sharpen your scythe, cancel your gym membership, and get moving.


Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.