Campus Community Garden. Edmonton, AB.
This being my first official post, big shout out to thecallofthewild for turning me on to tumbr.
Being from Agro-Oil heavy Alberta I hear this argument all the time: “If we switched over food production to organic localized food systems we wouldn’t be able to feed the world.” This argument could be made if food production “switched” literally overnight, but it can’t. (Really when people make this argument they are not actually concerned they just use it as a justification for their lifestyle. They generally have not researched the topic at all). I believe that the opposite is true: smaller organic farms and perennial food forests will be the only sustainable way to feed the worlds population and modern agriculture practices not only won’t feed the population they are damaging the environment. Here is a commonly sourced site showing that organic farms outperform non organic farms in many respects (in the context of modern agriculture practices) . http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/fst30years Go do a quick google scholar search and you will see that in the long run organic farming is the better option.
In an article that came out in the Nov edition of Scientific American (preview: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=can-we-feed-the-world) it states that by 2050 we will not be able to feed the worlds population with the system we have now and the answer is not to expand the system. Obviously this is troublesome, and one should consider that most of the worlds population is food insecure already. As a jumping off point here is a five point solution the author suggests so solve the worlds food woes:
1. Stop expanding agriculture’s footprint. Destruction of worlds forests cannot continue. There is plenty of land now if we just maximize the use (points 2 and 3)
2. Close yield gaps. Yields not even close to potential/capacity for the land being used already.
3. Use resources more efficiently. It is shown that done properly less resources can be used to achieve same yields- especially with water.
4. Stop eating meat! Ok he didn’t word it like that but “globally, humans could net up to three quadrillion addition calories every year-50 percent increase from our current supply- by switching to all-plant diets.” (Jon Foley)
5. Reduce food waste. "Roughly 30 percent of the food produced on the planet is discarded, lost, spoiled or consumed by pests." (Jon Foley)
The article goes into much more detail about the environmental destruction agriculture has on the planet then I plan on going into in this post. Just google agriculture environmental damage to get the hard stuff.
The last two points he makes can and should be done by everyone starting tomorrow. The other three can be addressed not overnight but eventually by adopting permaculture based practices in an urban setting. So basically turning your front+back yard, and other available land areas, into a perennial food forest/garden.
How odd an idea, grow food in your own backward?! How audacious!
Not really.People have been doing it for thousands of years http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hftgWcD-1Nw . People are still growing their own today.
-The famous Darvae family grows 6000lbs of fruit and vegetables a year on 1/10 acre of cultivated land. http://www.youtube.com/watchv=NGEtuh9PdnI&feature=related
- Olds, Alberta Canada http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISIQ3FsgmcQ (make sure to watch part 2)
- Heinberg, Janet Barocco 25 fruit & nut trees, veggies, potatoes, chickens for eggs, capture rainwater. All in suburban neighborhood. (Also great commentary oil driven economies) http://www.youtube.com/watchv=cl8ZHDQQY7I&feature=player_embedded
-Ron Herezon food forest in Edmonton, Alberta. Has great list of perennial zone 3 plants. http://www.cog.ca/uploads/TCOG%20Articles/Edible%20Forest%20Gardens.pdf
- Todmorden, West Yorkshire. A town that is trying to convert all available land into gardens. Carrots in the car park. Radishes on the roundabout. The deliciously eccentric story of a town growing All its own veg. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2072383/Eccentric-town-Todmorden-growing-ALL-veg.html
- Kerala, India. Some half million “home gardens” offering many varieties of fruit and other food. Talked about in Robert Hart’s book here http://permaculture-media-download.blogspot.com/2010/12/forest-gardening-cultivating-edible.html
These are just a few examples there are countless others all over the world.
If you watched the videos above in full, hopefully it has become obvious the empowerment, freedom, and satisfaction one can get from growing their own food. Carry that over from one person to many, connections are made, and communities are built and strengthened. There are hundreds of heart warming examples of this on youtube from around the word. Here are a few
Pt 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9L2axMPLKeE&feature=related
Pt 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hNFBaODpug&feature=related
Making a bit of a leap now. I don’t know if i’ve ever met a person who liked gardening with their grandparents when they were kids. In fact most people I talk to HATED it! So if freedom, empowerment, improved health and saving the planet are not inscentives enough, let me assure you it is not as much work as you think. Creating a perennial food forest may be intensive at first but it is like an investment it pays off, with having to do less and less work, over time. The other distinction is that, in “canada” anyway, there is an easier way (no dig) to garden then the till-the-soil-plant-rows style most people associate with gardens. Basically what i’m trying to say is, when it is done right, it is easier then you think.
A taste of some of the techniques:
potatos “never been, dug, watered or weeded” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1OShZZUt0k&feature=related
Alright so hopefully this disproves that argument and then some. This is just a summary of the relevant things I have come across recently there is still plenty of more to know and learn.
Let us end on some Bill Mollison Quotes:
"Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple"
“… every society that grows extensive lawns could produce all its food on the same area, using the same resources”