I know I have been foisting a great deal of "viewing" on people lately. I had been intending to take a bit of a break from this, until I came across this British production:
"A Farm For the Future" is a 50 minute look at the future of agriculture, primarily in Britain. I found this film to be particularly interesting, as the film-maker reminds me a great deal of myself. She grew up on a very traditional farm, and was encouraged to get an education and move on to a "better" kind of employment...better meaning higher standard of living with less backbreaking labor. She also has come to a point in her life where she realized the quality of life that comes from agrarian life. And she as well has realized that Peak Oil means our Green Revolution style of agriculture, which is completely dependent on fossil fuels, has a very limited future. So this short film documents her first few steps towards finding what, if any, type of agriculture will sustain our population into the future.
I was delighted to see that the solution seems to lie within permaculture, which is the direction I am intent upon with the family farm. The difficulty here is that my location is nowhere near as climate ideal as southern England. Our winters here are much longer, much colder and usually come with several feet of snow. It is my belief, however, that this just means we need to discover a different kind of permaculture. We will need to do far more year-round green-housing, for one thing.
As with all things, I believe the answer lies in balance. We will need to balance our population in general, but more importantly, we will need to find a better balance between urban population and rural. We will need to balance food production between rural and urban settings as well. We need to develop a better mix of human labor, animal labor and fuel-based labor; all this comes down to a better balance between the natural world and technology. We will need to balance our diets. I will not argue for totally vegetarian diets, but the truth is that westerners eat far more meat than is healthy (for the physical labor they do, especially). We would also get better dietary benefit from hemp-seed cereals than from the traditional wheat, oats, barley OR soy with lower ecological impact.
Again, I believe agriculture is going to have to shift from family based, to group or community based. No longer will so many be able to get by on one skill such as truck driving or writing software, for example. Certainly specialized skills or interests will remain important; we will always need teachers, doctors, veterinarians, engineers, etc, but more important will be flexibility and adaptability...and a willingness to help where needed.
I am quite sure than anyone who comes to this site would find this film to be a well-spent hour sure to lead to hours of thought later on.
Peace and comfort to all.
4 weeks ago