Some thoughts on Ecotourism from news stories this week (July 8-15, 2016):
After reading about the eighth annual Ecotourism conference, which took place earlier this month, this week I saw an “ecotourism” article about a working farm, with goats, in Reno, of all places, which I thought was a strange subject and location for ecotourism. When I, and I believe most people, think of ecotourism, we tend to think of unspoiled wilderness, or nature, and certainly pre-agricultural era environments.
The article really is about structuring farms to take advantage of natural symbiosis and existing processes in nature, and to that extent, it reminds me of the work of Joel Salatin from Polyface Farms. You may be familiar with Joel Salatin from author Michael Pollan’s works mentioning him (in books and articles). Salatin raises cattle, pigs, chickens, and other animals, and uses the symbiotic relationships between the animals and the growth and decomposition of natural processes to make a self contained system for growing animals and crops naturally. Joel is well known in the organic farming world for his nine books and many lectures, as well as being featured in several documentaries. And his farm has been a tourist attraction of sorts as a result.
For example, Salatin’s structure of farming emphasizes healthy grass on which animals can thrive in a symbiotic cycle of feeding. he calls himself a “sun farmer”, as a result, as the grass grown by the sun is the center of the structure of the farming process. Cows are moved from one pasture to another rather than being centrally corn fed. Then chickens in portable coops are moved in behind them, where they dig through the cow dung to eat protein-rich fly larvae while further fertilizing the field with their droppings.
I hadn’t thought about that as an eco-friendly aspect of tourism, but it clearly is. It appeals to those interested in viewing the farm and the processes, and educates and helps save the impact on the Earth as well.