Sixty-year-old “nomadic” farmer Jim Kovaleski stands apart in a nation obsessed with its uniform lawns. In a popular video, Instagram user Brian Moyers (@back__to__basics) shared a video of Kovaleski’s story of tending to plots of land in Maine and Florida.
Moyers shares that Kovaleski maintains both his Maine and Florida land with abundance in mind. At his Maine property, Moyers explains that Kovaleski hand-cuts his 12-acre property with a scythe and uses the cuttings “and only these cuttings” to feed his crops. Moyers goes on to explain that the crops are raised without insecticides, pesticides, or artificial fertilizers.
Kovaleski uses a similar method to maintain the ecological well-being of his unattended Florida plot.
“His front lawn is effortlessly growing a cover crop of sweet potatoes and peanuts along with nitrogen-fixers, black beans and cowpeas,” Moyers shares.
When Kovaleski returns to his Florida plot in the winter, he is met with “crops ready to be harvested” and “soil that is primed and ready to grow other beautiful polyculture crops.” The video illustrates the sheer amount of greenery and crop biodiversity present at Kovaleski’s property.
Polyculture, or growing multiple crops at one time, is not a novel concept. Growing various crops within the same space promotes ecological diversity and allows the plants to utilize each other for growth and ecological success. Planting nitrogen-fixers, like black beans and cowpeas, increases the amount of growth-limiting nitrogen for plants in the soil.
Cover-cropping is also a vital tool for sustainable agriculture. The cover crops provide a protective layer to the soil, which can reduce the amount of soil washed away by rain or wind erosion. Having rooted plants in the ground, rather than a bare plot, also helps maintain nutrient and biological activity underneath.
The video’s comments had mixed reactions.
One viewer commented, “🤦♀️ Growing sustainably like every culture ever did for thousands of years is not a life hack,” with another commenter replying, “🤔 In today’s world, it absolutely is.”
Other viewers expressed that Kovaleski’s landscaping methodology conflicts with the status quo of their community.
“My neighborhood is brainwashed into thinking that a lawn full of nothing but weed and ant killer is the only way to go,” one user replied.
One person has been following Kovaleski for a while, saying, “He is seriously awesome … the man is truly a wealth of knowledge.”
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