Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Horticulture - What is Sustainable

Sustainability is a term that is used extensively. We hear the term sustainable being applied to everything from communities to agriculture to the environment. The horticulture industry has an important role to play in sustainability. However, the term is often not well understood. The following are my thoughts on the subject.
  • Sustainable refers to systems that are long lasting and do not cause harm to the environment. Sustainability has environmental, societal, and economic components
  • Sustainability requires that resources are used wisely, that non-renewable resources are limited, and that there is a focus on the use of renewable resources.
  • To be sustainable, environmental considerations must come to the forefront.
  • Growth and sustainability are often at odds. For true sustainability, growth (i.e. development) needs to be limited and managed.
  • On the flip side, sustainable systems must maintain an appropriate standard of living for those in the system.
  • The green industry has a large part to play in sustainability as plants are critical as renewable resources (photosynthesis as the factory) and are critical in maintaining a healthy environment.
  • Recycling, reusing, and returning are all critical terms in sustainable systems.

I will be writing more on this subject in future posts.

Gordon Johnson, Extension Horticulture Agent, UD, Kent County

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