Secret garden in the heartland of cultures
Elias Hakalehto, PhD, Adj. Prof.
CEO, Finnoflag Oy
Vice President, International Society of Environmental Indicators
Lifetime Fellow Member, International Society of Development and Sustainability (Japan)
Published 8th of July, 2022
The widely used word "culture" has been applied for numerous purposes, such as:
1. "agriculture" is dedicated to human food production and the arrangements associated with it,
2. "cultural life" or "culture" originally referred to the intellectual, artistic, industrial, architectural, social, political and other activities that emerge from agricultural societies and further forms of human communities. There the steps from the hunter-gatherer way of living produce resources and options for a more versatile ground of developed thinking and societies,
3. development, however, is still based on the food production made possible by the actions of "microbial cultures".
So, it seems evident that the ecosystems in Nature and our human "cultures" are fundamentally dependent on microbial activities and interactions.
Human tribes could have established no agriculture or any civilization without the microbes. The growth potential of a plant in a pot is derived from the physically favorable conditions and from adequate water, nutrition and microbiological balance in the long term. Therefore, it is well justified also to call the microbial population a "secret garden" that enables the growth of plants or any visible gardens or fields.
For a shorter time, it could be possible to boost the growth of plants by using the essential nutrients in the solution, which is often the case in greenhouses. The solar energy for photosynthesis could be replaced by artificial light in some cases. However, the nutritive value of the food is dependent on the versatile production of various plant factors, such as vitamins, flavonoids and other antioxidants, for instance. For them, ecologically adaptable soil is warranted. In such a platform, the nutrients are also more readily available for the plants. This better availability correlates with human and animal health, too.
In overly chemicalized agriculture, the microbes are under pressure. It is said that in India, for example, one-third of the agricultural land is more or less spoilt due to various overuse. Fortunately, it is possible to also revive the soil and lands all over by developing microbiological understanding if the best result in the longer term is of any interest.
The microbiological expertise and skills were often more in use by experience in the old civilizations. Trial and error principles had taught our forefathers how to cultivate the land. Please, see some of my earlier blogs. - Moreover, we should remember that if something is not visible to our eyes, this does not make it inexistent. Such misunderstandings have produced many false beliefs, misconceptions, erroneous teachings and deleterious practices.
In her remarkable book of a British- American writer Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849- 1924), there is a wall-separated "secret garden" that is closed from outsiders and left without care. Once the three children in the book get a key to the gate of the garden door, they start making the soil fertile and watering the plants, thus getting all the place to flourish and bloom. - In this book for younger but also for more senior readers, this secret garden obviously refers to the mental growth and opening of the minds; understanding also the unchangeable rules of Nature.
However, in our parallelism of this very day, the key could also mean access to microbiological knowledge and an understanding of microbial communities. These communities of bacteria, moulds, algae and others are filling the space between the soil particles, and they partake in the plant nutrient uptake. This provides balanced conditions for plant growth. - Such an angle and approach provide an economically feasible and ecologically sustainable view of agricultural food production. Eliminating the soil crisis could eventually ease the food crisis. This, in turn, would hopefully loosen the tight bondages around the foreheads of the decision-makers with respect to social and ecological justice. - At least in an ideal culture.