Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi

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Did you know that today, 4 October, is known and recognised by many in the Catholic Church as the “Feast of St Francis of Assisi” and is celebrated each year? It is a popular day for pets to be ‘blessed’.

This feast day commemorates the life of St Francis, who was born in the 12th century and is the Catholic Church’s patron saint of animals and the environment.


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Happy Birthday “Towards Greener Borders”

Founded 2 May 2014

Founded 2 May 2014

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Happy Birthday, Towards Greener Borders … One year today!

Managed entirely voluntarily at the present time and grown organically by ‘word of mouth’, Towards Greener Borders is a platform promoting a vision for an organic, sustainable & healthy environment for all, with a mission to encourage, empower, inform & inspire positive outcomes.

We are passionate about doing what is possible to nurture people, plants, animals and our precious environment, leaving the Earth in better shape than we found it, in order to give children a safer future, while encouraging the mindful awareness of our connection to all on this planet.

Thanks to all who are on the positive journey too.

It has been quite a year!

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For more information, please visit TOWARDS GREENER BORDERS
at www.facebook.com/towardsgreenerborders

 

In health, hope and trust,
Holly x

What would Jesus do?

In my quietest moments, and sometimes even in the midst of a current or a raging storm, I wonder to myself “What would Jesus do?”

Over twenty years ago, I sat on a panel in London, speaking to an audience of other Christians who attended the Church I loved to be part of too, and I told them from my heart that I believed we needed to take care of our bodies, our ‘temples of the Holy Spirit’. My voice was a lone one in the room that night. And many times since, amongst similar crowd.

A few years after sitting on the panel in London, I stood on a beautiful property in Australia, longing with all my heart to convert it to organic, and I told the ones whom I was with at the time, whom I also loved, that we believers have to take care of the Earth. I was looked askance at, many a time. Once, when my little daughter ran up to a tree and lovingly hugged it (as she had seen done, I’m sure, on Sesame Street, but the action clearly came straight from her heart), I was looked askance at, as her mother, and my daughter was told that she was a “Tree Hugger”. That was not an endearing term and I was horrified from whence it came. I walked on, and sometimes I think I should have walked away. But I loved more, and I continued on my path.

As time has gone on, the fire has burnt ever brighter inside me and I have faced all sorts of ridicule and opposition to both my faith and my belief in how important it is that we show our love to the Earth. I have not wavered from my path, and nor have the many others who have been on this path too, around the world, because we hear and see the messages, intellectual or otherwise, and the situation is now a critical one.

If Jesus walked into the room right now, I hope he would say I have been a faithful servant, but I don’t know. All I know is that we are now hearing from religious leaders too, about caring for our planet, and I thank heaven that they have heard the message at last. I do not call myself ‘religious’, I have no rituals to my belief and will not allow another to own me ever again, having been burnt too many times, but I have a reverence for God, my father, whom I believe created all of this, and listening to the Holy Spirit is fundamental to my life.

I hope I’m right in saying this: we must take care of our bodies, our temples, and we must take care of the Earth too. The Earth is our home while we live in our physical shapes, and it behoves us all to work towards its longevity and good health. Is that what Jesus would say? Is that what Jesus would do? I don’t know … but Genesis tells me clearly it is exactly what he would want to hear.

And what of the Native American Indians, so in tune with who they are and where they came from? And the other tribes and groups who too remember their connection? I think Jesus would sit well in their midst, and they would all take bread together, in reverence for our spirit and our beautiful Mother Earth.

Our bodies are our ‘temples’, our Earth is our ‘home’. Surely we ought to do the same?
Love them.

Holly x

Invitation to join us at Towards Greener Borders

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Sunshine and snowdrops (galanthus) in the little organic woodland during February 2015 … a magical moment.

If you’re on Facebook, we’d love more support at Towards Greener Borders, to help spread an important message and contribute towards a brighter, safer world for us all.

Towards Greener Borders is easily found at http://www.facebook.com/towardsgreenerborders.

Please join us and do tell your friends about TGB too!

Many thanks …

Looking forward to meeting fellow bloggers and others there!

Yours in caring for our health and the environment,

Holly x

The Truth Is Not Always Beautiful

A Red Admiral butterfly sitting on asters in Autumn, which started its life earlier in the year, as a tiny caterpillar.

A Red Admiral butterfly, which started its life earlier in the year as a tiny caterpillar, sitting on our organic asters during Autumn.

 

 

Living in the British countryside, this is the time of year (Spring in the northern hemisphere) when I find myself becoming increasingly agitated, on alert, frustrated and not a little fearful. I am twitchy at the thought of what is about to happen with a vengeance, and what has already begun in some fields this year … agricultural chemical spraying taking place beside or near our home and organic garden, and around the living and working environments of many others in or near the countryside too.

In our garden, one of the few creating a tiny island of some biodiversity, in the midst of miles of chemically managed agriculture, the birds are welcoming in the Springtime with their presence and their song. Flowers are beginning to open, adding more life and loveliness to the stunning displays of our many snowdrops (galanthus), which have been lighting up the Winter dark for weeks, and fresh leaves are showing on any number of different plants … signs of hope.

Yet with the charm and relief of the arrival of Spring, I know that soon Man’s dominance will roar into action all around us and the toxic agricultural spraying will recommence, where it has not indeed done so already, to shatter the beauty and peace.  With so much resting on humans being able to transform the damage that has been escalating  on our planet, I find it completely irrational that modern, toxic agriculture be allowed to continue at the pace and severity that it currently is.

Chemical Agriculture businesses all around us, our organic garden amongst the few areas of refuge for wildlife, and one of the few gardens for miles offering biodiversity without the use of chemicals within them.

Chemical Agriculture businesses all around us, our organic garden amongst the few areas of refuge for wildlife, and one of the few gardens for miles offering biodiversity without the use of chemicals within them.

Not long ago, it was hard to find many who would agree that farming can be done sustainably, with financial viability and sensitivity, and be done well, without increasing the demands that we are placing on our landscape, our soil, our natural food and drinking supply, and our life-giving air. However, that has all changed now and many are up in arms at what is happening to our life sources on this planet, agreeing wholeheartedly that there is a better way, with statistics, examples and heavy paperwork to prove it.

I am aghast at the monstrous reality that farmers continue to use toxic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and synthetic fertilisers, when they are the ones to whom stewardship of the land and our food supply has been entrusted. Nowadays, there is a murmur so often heard that the only reason this toxic farming continues is “for money” or “out of greed”. I know it is not that simple. As to the companies who drive this … well, that is another story.

How can this all be acceptable?
How can these people live with themselves?
And what of the many farmers committing suicide?

What value is there to farmer or society, when we plunder the earth and transform the natural health and viability of our soil?  What intrinsic value is there in devastating the land, dominating all species bar a few allowed to remain, and seeking to control the earth wherever we can?  How can our eco-system survive this madness?  How can our food supply be healthy, whole and ensured?  How can we continue as a species ourselves, when we are wiping out those very species who offer us their unconditional support, and without whom we could not long continue to exist? We have all now heard, I assume, the quote by Einstein that, without the bee, Man would have a mere four years left.

We cannot expect to go on, if we wipe out our natural cycles and try to perform every task in Nature ourselves.  No number of men and their machines can ever replace the work done for us by our vital insect pollinators, birds, soil micro-organisms and varied underground species, and of course the many different types of bee – all of whom are being either harmed, mortally wounded or wiped out by chemicals to a lesser or greater degree. Our established trees we are losing at a frightening rate, and with them so much life and vitality, not least providing us with the vital clean air we all need. Whatever we do on the land, we are causing to run off and harm the many, precious life systems in the sea … the cycle of harm is alarming.

Monoculture, reliant on manmade chemicals to produce viable crops, the farmland in this photograph owned by three separate farming businesses, all operating their machines and cropping activity at the same time.

Monoculture. Reliant on manmade chemicals to produce viable crops, the farmland in this photograph is owned by three separate farming businesses, situated within and around our hamlet. All operate their machines and conduct their independent cropping activities at the same time. Chemicals know no boundaries.

How can we be so arrogant as to think that we have a right to strip our children’s planet and their right to an inheritance of a future filled with hope, healing and diversity?  How can we be such murderers, stripping the tapestry of our green and wooded environments, raping the Earth with our monstrous, egotistical and idiotic, swiping and sweeping destruction of all that was here before us?  How can we possibly hope to go on this way?  How can we look our children in the eyes with love, when we are meting out to them such poison?

Have those who climb into the cabs of their killing machines ever looked into the face of a child holding a butterfly?  Have those very souls and others like them, not heard that a butterfly must start its life as a little grub … a caterpillar?  Do these adults not know that a whole and functioning, diverse eco-system is vital, in order to sustain our lives, our health, our right to good food to live?  Can those who seek to dominate the economic markets with their greed not see the damage that their choices and their actions are doing to each and every little child? Do they not care? Do they not live on the Earth too?

Soon I shall hear the rumbling of a farmer neighbour’s smart new piece of machinery, pulling behind it a vast tank filled with a product made by Man … glyphosate … whose detrimental, cancerous and deleterious effects are being made known around the world, yet people continue to spray and dab it on.  I cannot hold back the ire that rises up inside me when I hear about and see the use of “RoundUp” (or glyphosate by any other name) and I believe that every person who dares to use this poison ought to be held accountable if they indeed know how evil it is.

September 2014, Autumn - RoundUp (glyphosate) being sprayed on the field beside our house - we had not yet closed our kitchen windows, nor are we protected from this toxic spraying in any event anyway.

September 2014, Autumn – RoundUp (glyphosate) being sprayed on the field beside our house – we had not yet closed our kitchen windows, nor are we protected from this toxic spraying in any event anyway.

There is a vast body of evidence already available to everyone who cares to seek it, which fully and substantially shows how dangerous this way of treating Nature is, and what a devastating effect it is having on so many people’s lives, through sickness, failed wellbeing (psychological and otherwise) and cruelly shortened life.  How can we call this way of producing our food “farming”? How can we call this of way doing things “growing food”?

As the anticipation of Spring brings with it so much joy and promise, there is a tug of war going on inside, as for me there lurks a deep undercurrent of frustration and fear at what is coming and what could be.  I know that we are not safe, and nor are the farmers who work with toxic products rather than listening to Nature and working with her instead.

It has been proven that organic agriculture is viable and can feed the world.  Why then, does an intelligent, wealthy and forward thinking country like Britain continue to fund and allow its farmers to harm us, as they are subsidised to unwittingly rape the land?

This picture taken one recent April (Spring) on a verdant ORGANIC farm in the region. Here the land is managed without any chemicals whatsoever and, whilst a monoculture system too, the farmer’s response to me, when asked how he dealt with pests, was “Pests? What do you mean?”.  And weeds? He uses a mechanical hoe. No chemicals necessary.

My deepest hope and greatest dream, as a mother, a thinker and a human being, is that our harmful reliance on chemical farming will cease with urgent effect, and the countryside become once more the healing, safe for foraging, bountiful and biodiverse place it used to be. If only that dream could sprout, take root and blossom to grow abundantly this Spring!

In hope,
Holly x

Did you know that Towards Greener Borders HQ is a ‘real’ place?

The following is a new post that has been published on Towards Greener Borders’ page today at http://www.facebook.com/towardsgreenerborders. It gives a little background about my philosophy when dealing with our health, environments and wellbeing, and shows what we are doing on our tiny property in the Berwickshire hills and how tenderly it is being managed, while we are the custodians  …

 

Did you know that Towards Greener Borders HQ is a ‘real’ place?
It is ‘An Organic Property’, a place where no chemicals are used, where the grounds are managed as sympathetically and mindfully as we know how, where Nature is observed before decisions are made about what to work on and how, where soil is kept covered and digging is rare, where wildlife is welcomed and nothing growing is considered ‘bad’, where mosses and lichens are allowed to flourish, and self-sown trees such as holly, yew, ash, sycamore, willow and elderflower are being encouraged, in order to save them for use elsewhere. It is a place where the forget-me-not is remembering to seed again, chickweed discovery excites and where dandelions are called friends, where the foxglove is admired and its floral beauty feasted on, where wild daisies are cause for rejoicing and hawthorn allowed to bloom …

At the moment, the snowdrops are shining and soon the purple crocuses will be shining fully too.

“Towards Greener Borders HQ” is where Towards Greener Borders first grew, and from whence it is currently managed. Not open to the public, we are sorry to say, as there are just too many tasks to attend and currently too few to do them, but we’re delighted to share our pictures with all of you.

Thanks for joining us on the journey and helping to spread the word. Just as every plant and every creature is valued at “Towards Greener Borders HQ”, so is each and every one of you. Let’s keep the mission spreading … and for all the help and all the support, we thank you.

The TOWARDS GREENER BORDERS Team
www.facebook.com/towardsgreenerborders

Taken on the first day of March 2015, a glimpse of the lovely snowdrops beneath and surrounding our holly, sycamore and cherry trees at “Towards Greener Borders HQ”.

Taken on the first day of March 2015, a glimpse of the lovely snowdrops beneath and surrounding our holly, sycamore and cherry trees at “Towards Greener Borders HQ”.

How Towards Greener Borders came to be

Yesterday marks ten months since I launched a page on Facebook entitled “Towards Greener Borders”, on 2nd May 2014. It is a platform with a purpose; an entity which currently exists merely on the internet but based in reality, run on an entirely voluntary basis and presently managed from a one acre organic property in the United Kingdom.

Towards Greener Borders’ Facebook page has grown itself organically, now joined by a community of many ‘followers’, both individuals and businesses/organisations/groups, from around the world. This is the personal story that I wrote, to accompany the launch of the page last year:

 

 

FOUNDER’S STORY

Like so many others through the aeons, I find guidance, inspiration and parallels to human life by observing Nature. Since I was a young child growing up in South Africa, I have felt a deep affinity for the outdoors, for plants and wild animals, as well as native traditions and old ways of ensuring wellbeing.

When I found myself living once again in the Borders (south of Edinburgh) a few years ago, I had great hopes of experiencing familiarity, peace and strengthening, healthful solitude in the British countryside here. We had returned to Britain after a long stint in Australia, before which I’d led a busy life in London and Edinburgh, after emigrating from South Africa to the UK (the birth country of my mother and grandparents) in the mid 1980s. Our family anticipated at long last being able to put down roots again, have freedom and enjoy life fully, benefitting from a well-earned and much-needed rest in the country, after a stressful few years including many home moves, as well as crossing continents and both hemispheres. Sadly, the opposite proved to be the reality, as ever more pressures mounted in the locality where we chose to buy our home in Britain, making the settling process exceedingly difficult.

Having known for many years about the dangers of agricultural chemicals, and having learnt a lot in Australia about the use of these toxic methods in farming, and the residues they leave in food, water, air and soil, I had purposely searched for somewhere safe to live. It was difficult to find anywhere, near to my extended British family, that was not closely aligned with a ploughed and sprayed field, until we found our current home at short notice. Desperate to have somewhere of our own again, we had chosen to buy an old house on an acre in the hills, which we immediately assigned “An Organic Property”, despite it being set amongst farms.

Unfortunately, the dream of peace and security turned into a nightmare and I soon found myself becoming increasingly tense living here, unable to relax in this (what was once a beautiful) country environment, in which we had eventually found our UK home. I discovered that I was more stressed and anxious in the British countryside than I had ever been, anywhere else, before – either in city or country. Although I had always loved the countryside (most especially in Africa) living here was like nothing I had ever experienced elsewhere. It was soon evident that we were sandwiched between several landowners, all working their land at the same time, ploughing, spraying and bombing down the road past our home, as if we did not exist. Life in the British countryside was proving to be anything but calm, anything but healthy, and anything but restorative.

Then, when farming around us changed unexpectedly (from the peaceful grazing land that we had thought it to be), and we discovered that the house we had bought was to be chemically-farmed immediately beside (which had not been clear to us at the outset), and we were in the path of the prevailing winds carrying chemical drift from at least one other farm to the other side of us, my anxiety levels rose exponentially, but I did not know where to go to from here. We had already had several moves since bringing the family to Britain, and I had endured many personal moves prior to that. I was worn out with moving and readjusting… as well as not knowing a clear direction to take. So we remained where we had ‘landed’, and have been here for almost five years, which have been unbelievable, on many levels.

As so often in the past, when faced with a challenge I have tried to use the challenge to advantage, not least to learn from it. Knowing that things were not as we had expected to find them here, nor seemed likely to change to suit our needs, the temptation to run away has been ever-present, and every time more and more chemicals are used around our home, I experience severe anxiety, coupled with a resulting shock response and debilitating fatigue. However, despite a desperate need to settle somewhere safe, we find ourselves unable to, and this has proven to be one of the few times in my life that I have found myself unable to walk away from something that was obviously not working for me. So, whilst the outside challenges have been immense, in the midst of the usual adjustments that one (and a family) has to make when moving to a ‘new’ country, and starting everything afresh, we have remained living where we are, in the best way we can, coping with all of life’s other challenges at the same time.

Like so many others around the world now, I am acutely aware of the dangers, not only to the farmers themselves (and their families), but to everyone who is breathing the air that is being sprayed with toxins or covered with chemical fertilisers. Increasingly in the media, we are hearing about the deaths of native species, plants and animals, and the demise of vital pollinators … all being wiped out in the name of modern progress. I do not see this as progress; I see this type of land management and the chemical farming methods as dangerous, demonstrating limited thinking. We all hear about the evidence that this is the case, so simply shown by the severe decline of bees in the UK and Europe.

I have said many times that “bees are the canaries in our coal mine” and I know that we do not need Science to prove that we are killing them. The picture is so simple and logical, that even a young child can understand it. I frequently quote Einstein, who said that we will have limited time left on earth, once the bees die. We are shooting ourselves in the foot by treating our earth with such disrespect and disdain. But, most poignant, is the fact that we are hurting one another by doing this to the earth, which is in all of our interests to cherish. I do not see the earth being cherished in these hills where we currently live, and I do not see it in many other areas of Britain either, and this worries me enormously. It is extremely short sighted of us to continue to do to our planet what has never been done before, and is already proving so futile, destructive and harmful … Man is hurting what he should be stewarding, and I see industrial-scale agricultural methods, on an island as small as Britain, being key to this alarming predicament.

Instead of running away, I have decided to turn my attention to trying to help the situation, from my own limited circumstances, in the hope of inspiring others to change the status quo, to gather round the people who are doing just that, and to empower one another. I dream that it will be possible to transform this region into a positive, healthy and hopeful one, learning from the mistakes that have been made, and reassured by those around the world who have proven that it is possible to live well, making positive choices about food and farming methods, as well as in our own living and working environments. I know that it is profitable, viable, and sustainable to do so.

While this is my personal story, providing background as to why I have created “Towards Greener Borders”, this page is intended to be a forum and a platform for all who feel similarly, and wish to find or share ways to effect positive environmental and lifestyle changes as well.

I hope you will join us on this journey and help to spread a positive message of authentic, natural and organic sustainability.

The Author, photographing Summer beauty in an organically managed garden in England.

The Author, photographing Summer beauty whilst visiting an organically managed garden in England.



For more information, please visit:
TOWARDS GREENER BORDERS
http://www.facebook.com/towardsgreenerborders