[Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from Chapter 5 of Ridiculously Amazing Schools, by Tracey Smith and Jeff Waller, republished here with permission.]
CHAPTER 5: NURTURE
NATURE HOLDS THE ANSWERS
Like humans, plants are continually exposed to toxins. While humans fight environmental as well as social and emotional toxins, plants continually defend against new chemicals, gases, and changing environmental conditions. These elements can create stress and threaten the plants’ health and even their existence.
Plants have developed detoxification processes to cleanse and to survive. Many times, however, environmental stressors over- whelm plants, causing death and sometimes even extinction. But life is powerful, and nature has devised an elegant approach, one rooted in community and connection.
Biologists at the University of California, Berkeley, have conducted some eye-opening research. In an effort to understand a plant’s stress response to various kinds of toxins, they put plants in a closed container and introduced different contaminants in the form of chemicals and gases. They then observed the plants’ responses.
While the plants were able to manage independently when introduced to a minor level of toxins, the release of a heavy dose of poisonous gas into the container would cause the plants to quickly wither and die. It was when the researchers decided to put multiple plants into a container that they could truly understand the power of connection.