Sustainable Agriculture 2011: a year in review

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At this time of the year, when every journalist, essayist and blogger seems to be reflecting on the past year…… well, why not?

This past year, many of my blog posts focused on the need to build the local food movement as means of enhancing food security and sustainability in troubled times.  I began the year with an essay on the most local of all local foods….. that which we grow ourselves in “Gardening and Living by Three Ecological Rules.”   In this post, I suggested gardening is the perfect way to live according to the three ecological rules for sustainable living:

  1. Use current solar income for energy (whenever possible)
  2. Recycle everything material (waste equals food)
  3. Encourage biological diversity (necessary for 1 & 2 to function)

In March, I wrote “Collapse of the Industrial Food System,” in which I claim that a system which allows large corporations to control the food supply is fundamentally unjust and dangerous.  I followed this with some thoughts on “Dealing with Collapse of the Food System”  in which I suggest that we must promote a more local and regional food system so that we are not so reliant on the globalized, industrialized system.  We need;

  1. tax incentives for small, integrated farms committed to selling within their own community,
  2. public investment in infrastructure to support a bioregional food system (within a specific foodshed),
  3. changes in zoning regulations to support the “homegrown food revolution” and
  4. education programs encouraging family, neighborhood, community self-sufficiency, and local farming.

In preparation for April 17, the International Day of Action working toward “Food Sovereignty – the People’s Response” I reminded readers of a recent United Nations study which claims that small farmers, using agroecological techniques, can double food production in 10 years.   These techniques are supported by the International Peasants Movement, La Via Campesina, which claims that peasants can feed the world.

Returning to the personal once again I wrote in “Growing Our Own Food Can Strengthen Our Spiritual Connection with the Earth” that rediscovering the sacred is an act of healing..  I wrote “in forgetting the sacred we have become unhealthy and un-whole.  From this place of illness, we ask the wrong questions and seek after the false-gods of consumerism and superficial amusements.  I believe we must rediscover ways to reconnect with the earth, perhaps by growing our own food, raising a few hens (for the eggs and the laughs), and buying real food from people in our own communities we know and trust, if we are to heal the damage we have caused to the global ecosystem and the human soul.

In May, I went from the personal to the community level of sustainability in “Just Grow Food: Public Opportunities & Responsibilities.”   In June, I proposed that a worldwide network of interlinked local and regional food systems should be developed to balance the globalized, industrial food system in my essay “Local Food: Let’s Get Serious – NOW!

In August, I tried to deepen our understanding of why we must “Relocalize the Food System to Support Democracy.”   And we marked the height of the harvest season in New England with a New York Times report that suggested that an increasing number of farmers are competing for customers  in a market that is not expanding as fast as production.  I cried out that we need more people to buy local – and we need your help to make this happen!

Finally, I finished the year by exploring the Occupy Movement with the posts “Occupy the Food System” and “Occupy with Education and Policy Work” in which I encouraged some of the occupiers to continue the struggle by joining with the many food and farming education and policy organizations that have been working on these issues for years.

As gratifying as it is to see a garden on the White House lawn… only 1% of the American public buys directly from farmers on a regular basis.

Lets join this 1% – and buy more food from our neighbors!

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I’d appreciate it if you would share this post with your friends and perhaps comment below.  For more ideas, videos and challenges along these lines, please check out my web page Just Food Now.  And go here for more of my World.edu posts.