Seeding Our Future

Gwendolyn Pieper is an emerging botanical artist from Taos and a farmer’s daughter. She plans to pursue a higher degree in soil science with a focus on climate remediation through regenerative soil management. Her botanical illustrations fuse art and science through the celebration of the natural world.

Gwendolyn created the watercolor painting below, depicting some of her favorite examples of flowering cover crops to show the beauty of cultivating diversity in agricultural systems. Printed on 100% cotton tote bags, she hopes her art will spread the word about the importance of soil health and regenerative agriculture. The back of the bag lists the 5 soil health principles and 20% of proceeds from the sale of the totes support local farms.

Watercolor by Gwendolyn Pieper, 2020

Gwendolyn explains:

“Each of the flowers on this bag belongs to a different species of cover crop. Together, they demonstrate one of the key conditions for healthy soil and a healthy planet: diversity. Nature’s complexity is not only beautiful, but also creates the intricate relationships that support the very existence of life on Earth. Let’s celebrate and protect it.

Why does soil health matter? Soil health is inseparable from our own health. Soil is the foundation of life below and above ground, hosting a diversity of organisms that is almost too great for us to comprehend –there are more organisms in a teaspoon of soil than there are people on the Earth!

But industrial agriculture has been waging a war against these microscopic communities since the advent of chemical pesticides, herbicides and insecticides. After all, “-cide” refers to “an act of killing.” But it turns out we aren’t just killing the “pests.” These chemicals destroy crucial relationships within and above the soil that nature has ingeniously created to sustain itself.

So where do cover crops fit in to this story? Cover crops help build and conserve top soil, create habitat for pollinators and beneficial organisms, provide feedstock for micro-organisms, help to restore our water-cycle, sequester carbon, reduce reliance on toxic pesticides, and ultimately, help us to grow healthy and nutritious food to feed our communities.”

3 Responses

  1. Wes Brittenham

    The artwork is lovely! I know these plants well and your representation and message are spot on. Thanks for the contribution to beauty and the very important dialog we must continue to be engaged in.

    • Gwendolyn Pieper

      Thank you Wes! It makes me so happy that you know these plants and connect with the message.

  2. Jennifer Nix

    Beautiful, and such a wonderful project! Can’t wait to see what all you create on your residency at Casa Minka!

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