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  • Writer's pictureJenn

Ownership vs. Stewardship

Such similar words-ownership and stewardship- yet they are vastly different in meaning and intent. When we talk about our farmland we view it through a lens of stewardship, of caretaking and sustaining, not ownership or dominance. The 'it's my land and I can do what I want with it' train of thought just doesn't feel right for us. (This brings to mind an awful time when a previous neighbor, who has since moved, cut down an japanese maple that was at least 150 years old just because he wanted more room next to his driveway)

This slight shift in thinking from ownership to stewardship helps you slow down to look outside of yourself and consider what/who else is affected by the decisions you make about your land. On our farm we try to nurture the soil, planting cover crops and practicing no-till instead of dominating it-getting as much as we can out of it then just feeding it synthetics to perk it back up.

Think about the pollinators, the butterflies, the wildlife on your land and what they may need to thrive as they work to nurture the land in their own way. How can you sustain instead of dominate? Does grass not grow well on your land without alot of water, time and chemicals? Maybe that isn't what your land needs. Perhaps adding some flower beds or a water feature, reducing the grass area, will nurture the soil and water the pollinators, and make it easier to for you to tend and enjoy.

Maybe this winter you can get to know your land. Watch how it changes during the cold season and what wildlife visits. Research who the indigenous caretakers of the land were. How did they care for your land? How can you show them thanks and reverence? (Here is a place to start if you are from our neck of the woods Native People of NJ - Lenni-Lenape (

Our yards or farms are not just soil wrapped in a frame of fencing meant to serve us. It's a vast realm of its own, with insects,nematodes, mycelium, wildlife- a realm that is not ours to dominate but temporarily ours to tend. As your relationship with your land grows and deepens, a spirit of reciprocity will blossom, and it will feel even more like home.

With gratitude for our earth,


Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth. —Henry David Thoreau

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