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Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Ei Rewilding Urban Landscape Pilots

Beyond regenerative agriculture and landscape practices, rewilding land restores the natural ecosystem that evolved over thousands of years. Rewilding land requires the restoration of native plants and cultivates food for indigenous insects. Strong insect populations are the foundation for restoring wildlife-predator/prey hierarchies that once thrived prior to human intrusion.

In his New York Times bestseller, Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in your Yard, Doug Tallamy encourages citizens to rewild their yards via replacing toxic lawns with native plants that support local insect populations.

Inherent within rewilding urban landscapes are three primary benefits: 
  • Restoration of vibrant soil ecosystems and urban-wildlife populations; production of nutritious food destined for wildlife and humans.
  • Drawdown of carbon from the atmosphere into the soils via plant photosynthesis.
  • Establishment of food-secure neighborhoods within a community.
Homegrown National Park
Via his recent book, Bringing Nature Home, how you can sustain wildlife with native plants, Doug announces his Homegrown National Park (HNP) initiative in partnership with Michelle Alfandari, business development consultant, entrepreneur, small business owner, and retimer.

HNP is a grass roots call-to-action to regenerate biodiversity. According to Doug,

In the past, we have asked one thing of our gardens: that they be pretty. Now they have to support life, sequester carbon, feed pollinators, and manage water.

National awareness is HNP's product along with a request for the below actions on the more than 40-million acres of private lawn in the United States:

  1. Reduce lawns.
  2. Plant more native plants.
  3. Remove invasive and/or non-native plants.

The What's the Rush 24-minute video by Doug is a superb overview of the critical status of the insect population along with simple lifestyle changes by individuals that collectively make a huge difference.

Permaculture-Oriented Landscapes (POL)
In the previously referenced video, What's the Rush?, Doug refers to POL as ecological landscapes with the following four purposes:
  • Path leads to a banana-compost circle for
    yard debris and kitchen-food waste.
    Photo credit: Holly Elmore Images
    Support food webs, human and wildlife.
  • Sequester carbon.
  • Clean and manage water.
  • Support pollinators.

Ei partners with Zach Zildjian Design Services (ZZ Design) on promoting POL. Per Zach Zildjian, an ecological landscaper, POL have three main components:

  • Food forest (perennial food production.)
  • Vegetable & herb gardens (annual food production.)
  • Compost of landscape debris as well as home-food waste.
Ei Rewilding Urban Landscape Pilots
When she returned to her hometown, Sarasota, Florida, after residing in Atlanta for four decades, Elemental Impact (Ei) Founder & CEO Holly Elmore dedicated her spacious approximately 8,500-square-foot yard to two rewilding pilots. 

The Holly Elmore Images (HEI) Ei Rewilding Urban Landscapes album documents the pilots' progress in a series of photo galleries.

Ei Native-Plant-Landscape Pilot
Native-plant landscapes provide urban wildlife access to food and habitat. When "cide*" free, native-plant landscapes provide wildlife a safe haven amid urban life filled with buildings, roadways, and often sterile and/or toxic open areas.

The young front-yard native-plant landscape
thrives as it matures.
Photo credit: Holly Elmore Images
Local wildlife evolved to thrive on native foliage and, in general, do not eat or nest in non-native plants. Additionally, many non-native plants are invasive and choke out native plants, further challenging urban wildlife.

Holly's front yard was designated for only native plants with a focus on food and habitat for local urban wildlife. First steps included removing the non-native, decorative plants from prior residents and smothering the existing grass.

Pamela Callender of Lifelines consulted, designed, purchased the plants, and installed the native-plant landscape on November 18 & 19, 2021 and continues to provide support.

The HEI album, Ei Native-Plant-Landscape Pilot, documents the the front-yard evolution through a series of photo galleries.

* "cides" are defined as herbicides, pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides.

Ei Backyard-Permaculture Pilot
The backyard in its "wild state.
Photo credit: Holly Elmore Images
The backyard pilot follows POL practices with an emphasis on human-food-producing plants. A food-waste-compost circle surrounded by banana trees is integral to the design. Thus, the general rule for the backyard landscape: any non-native plants must produce human food and/or provide direct soil-ecosystem benefit.

While the front-yard landscape is strictly native plants and was installed over a two-day period, the backyard pilot is an evolutionary process. For nearly nine months, the backyard was permitted to return to its "wild state" with abundant plant diversity; a variety of happy insects frolicked in the knee-high grass infiltrated with flowering plants.

Beginning in early 2021, the backyard was slowly "tamed" with mulched paths, a banana compost circle, a row of native-blueberry bushes under the roof dripline, a pollinator garden, a food forest, and a raised herb-garden area with sun protection. Once the invasive carrotwood tree was removed, the south-side yard was opened to ample sunshine and prepped for a vegetable, herb, and edible-flower garden.

After taming the backyard with mulched
paths & soil preparation, a food forest
was planted

Photo credit: Holly Elmore Images
No herbicides or soil tilling were used in the taming process; Holly hand-weeded the majority of the areas before prepping for its destination.

ZZ Design oversees the backyard evolution and uses the pilot as a showcase for "what can be done" in a neighborhood scenario.

The HEI album, Ei Backyard-Permaculture Landscape Pilot, documents the backyard's evolution through a series of photo galleries.

Ei is honored to introduce the Ei Rewilding Urban Landscapes Pilots; the intention is to inspire others to take rewilding steps in their yards. Though the pilots are complete yard transformations, Ei supports taking small, manageable steps; it is important to take whatever steps flow for the individual or organization. Celebrate successes, share with friends and family, and join the Homegrown National Park!

Note: this article is an excerpt from the SOIL & WATER: the foundation of life article published in December 2022.

Tax-deductible donations in any amount are greatly appreciated to support Ei's important work. 


About Elemental Impact:
Elemental Impact (Ei) is a 501(c)3 non-profit founded in 2010 as the home to the Zero Waste Zones, the forerunner in the nation for the commercial collection of food waste for compost. In June 2017, Ei announced the Era of Recycling Refinement was Mission Accomplished and entered the Era of Regeneration. Current focus areas include Nature PrevailsSoil Health | Regenerative Agriculture, and Water Use | Toxicity.

The Regeneration in ACTION Magazine articles, From Organic Certification to Regenerative Agriculture to Rewilding Landscapes: an evolution towards soil integrity and SOIL & WATER: the foundation of life, published to explain and substantiate the importance of Ei’s rewilding urban landscapes work within the Nature Prevails focus area.

The Holly Elmore Images Rewilding Urban Landscapes-album folder documents two active pilots: the Native-Plant Landscape Pilot and the Backyard Permaculture-Oriented Pilot.

To work with industry leaders to create best regenerative operating practices where the entire value-chain benefits, including corporate bottom lines, communities, and the environment. Through education and collaboration, establish best practices as standard practices.

Ei’s tagline – Regeneration in ACTION – is the foundation for Ei endeavors.

The following mantra is at the core of Ei work:

Ei is a creator, an incubator.
Ei determines what could be done that is not being done and gets it done.
Ei brings the possible out of impossible.
Ei identifies pioneers and creates heroes.

For additional information, contact Holly Elmore at 404-510-9336 |

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