Appalachian Agrobiodiversity; One’s Gift & Connecting to Place

Appalachia may be one of the poorest regions of the U.S., but when it comes to heirloom crops, it’s got the riches.

Says an NPR article called “On The Trail To Preserve Appalachia’s Bounty Of Heirloom Crops” that describes the bounty of agrobiodiversity existing in the midst of financial scarcity. It is gems like these that offer hope in restoring balance: The current financial-capital intensive economy does not support the life of Appalachia (and in many ways leads to exploitation of it), but finding and working with the forms of capital a region is rich in, such as living capital in Appalachia, reveals windows of opportunity for life to thrive.

Whether living capital or financial capital in Appalachia or Latin America, identifying one’s strengths (or “gifts”) and working with them (I.e. “reciprocating to the world”) is a key to success all over. Zooming in from the macrocosm of bioregions to the microcosm of one’s existential place in the world, a similar lesson is revealed in Dr. Kimmerer’s presentations on the Honorable Harvest regarding finding one’s gift, cultivating gratitude and reciprocation unto the world as a way to develop the health and wellness of one’s self and All.

The article about Appalachia goes on to say:

The heritage seeds central to this “agrobiodiversity” have been passed down through generations of families. In many cases, the seeds date back hundreds of years to when Native Americans were cultivating seeds from woodland plants like pawpaws. Other crops like corn traveled to Appalachia from southern Mexico via the Southwest U.S.

Whatever the scale, living capital and in general well-balanced (ecologically-sound) capital can contribute to one’s life in the form of connection to place, as it has been called by some. In Appalachia we see this connection to place grow deeper as living capital preserves cultural capital (which in turn can help with social capital and so forth). In an individual basis we see this as ecologically diverse practices embracing closeness to the source (think of it as the ‘heritage seeds’ of cultural practices). Such connection to place is a key to resilience and health on many scales.

Connecting to one’s culture, one’s self, one’s land, that which is the source of oneself, and that which serves oneself, can be an eye-opening and fulfilling beginning to a more sustainable and wholesome life. Don’t take my word for it though – take it with a grain of salt and see for yourself. One way to do this would be to practice mindful eating, connecting to one’s food: to initiate enjoying a meal, take a moment to practice gratitude and mindfulness of how the experience has come together. Consider how the meal was prepared, how the ingredients came together from sunshine to table, and all of the creatures involved in that process. At the least this exercise will add a dose of gratitude to your diet, and even better if it inspires beneficial changes in future behavior which in turn will support more healthy and contenting meals.

Here’s to finding what niche one may be rich in, in a well-rounded and resilient way. May peace be upon you.

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