From the moment I checked out the website, I knew there was going to be a lot to see while walking around ECHO. One of the most interesting things to me was the fact that the basis of the nursery is to research methods for a self sustaining farm. It was cool to see the interns that lived on the farm working and to know that their newly taught methods would be utilized to help struggling

20120601-201000.jpgcountries. One of the first systems was the system in which they fed the ducks and the ducks’ waste fell through the cages to feed the tilapia underneath. This simple concept now provided a farmer duck meat, eggs, and fish to eat.
As we continued on through the nursery, it was amazing to see the different plants and trees that could help treat people medically and provide them food. This is important with the rising costs of medicine and the increase of malnourishment throughout the world. The three plants that interested me most were the Chaya plant, Moringa, and the Miracle Berries.
When I looked up Chaya, it was impressive to see that listed three places where it could be found in the United States-ECHO in Fort Myers as one. The Chaya plant further illustrated why it is important to learn about the different plants in the area. When eaten raw, Chaya will turn into cyanide within the body- a mistake, no one would want to make. However, once cooked it can be eaten like spinach and it is full of nutrients and antioxidants.
Next, the Moringa plant, also known as the “Miracle Plant,” has multiple medical purposes and on Livestrong’s website, it mentioned specifically that the plant could be used to treat 300 different diseases. Also, the seeds of the plant can be used to purify water when left in the sun for several hours.

20120601-201306.jpgThe plant itself is given to pregnant woman and children that are malnourished. It’s sick to hear of stories where the kids are so hungry that their mothers feed them mud pies. Stories like that, truly make me grateful for what I have. Furthermore, to think that there are natural plants like the Moringa that are so full of nutrients it’s hard to justify the 500 new manmade chemicals Rachel Carson speaks of in the Silent Spring. Why are humans so quick to resort to unnatural synthesized medicines when there are plants that could do so much for both humans and the planet?

I was also impressed to see the Miracle berries planted because recently I read an article about how they were given to Cancer patients. My boyfriend and I decided to give them to his grandfather in hopes it would help his appetite.When a person is so sick, it is good to know there are natural remedies that can help them stand the taste of food enough so they can get nourishment to keep whatever strength they have.
As a side note, Bill McKibben states in Eaarth, “In North America, the center of the mechanized megafarm, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that according to its census smaller farms produce far more food per acre, whether you measure that output in tons, calories, or dollars.” Between those type of statistics and all the scientific evidence that demonstrate how plants can benefit humans, I can’t see why we don’t start moving towards more farms like ECHO and move away from pesticides, herbicides, synthesized medications and large farms. It’s hard to imagine that it can’t be done since ECHO even demonstrated how someone can use boots and carpets to sustain a system to grow food. In all, ECHO showed me that small time farming with diversity gives hope to a more sustainable future.



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