Where is All the Food?
Wayne Weiseman, Guest Writer
When a product enters the marketplace it is doomed to be bandied about, prodded, poked and eventually, if it is a “valuable” commodity, confiscated, manipulated, packaged, politicized, corporatized, chained to will-o’-the-wisp market forces and forever relegated to the dungeon of the landfill, what’s left of it.
The pharaohs of agri-commerce will save the world, eh? Green revolution? Green devolution. The real “commodity” is the seed you plant, the cutting you propagate, the chicken you feed from the seeds of the seed you plant and the fruit of the cutting, which has become a tree bearing fresh, juicy, luscious gems for your ultimate pleasure. Now, go to Whole Foods and pick a piece of fruit off the tree growing in their produce department, eh?
We hear any awful lot about food safety these days. What does this mean exactly? Does it mean that we grow “safe” food or does it mean that we are safe with abundant harvests?
The biggest problem is this idea of farm. It was always a problem. Very small holdings, easily managed, when combined, is key here. Why is it that when we think of growing crops we only think farm? What is this idea of farm? From whence does it arise? When the commoditization of fresh foods takes precedence then farms turn into gigantic factories. Were indigenous villagers raising their crops at a farm scale? Why was Bill Mollison always talking about small-scale systems? What did he gather from his travels? Why does John Jeavons say that we can grow all our needs for a family of four on four thousand square feet?
We live in the city and suburbs on smallholdings. This is where we live, where the bulk of the population resides in the modern era. When a block of suburban dwellers decides to grow food in their yards, we have the semblance of a small, collaborative farm. Farm- what are the origins of this word? Do we know anymore what a farm truly is or what it can be? A cooperative venture resides in the opportunities we find in neighborhoods where most people reside. This is where proper scale, doable scale eliminates the need for machinery, fossil fuel. We don’t even require any machinery to put things on the ground, to get started.
The days of broad acre farms are over. Even Sepp Holzer is not something that a literal handful of people might emulate. We are baby stepping into growing our produce. We start small and stay small and all of us small farmers (gardeners) are next door to each other and the fences come down and folks sit down to meals together because you grow the tomatoes and I grow the hazelnuts and he grows the raspberries that we make into pie in a crust made from the wheat we raised in the smallest space possible and all crops are possible in whatever size space we have and Nigerian dwarf goats are like little puppy dogs and we milk them in the kitchen and we get milk with 10% milk fat and chickens lay eggs and rabbits are easily slaughtered in the kitchen and raised in the side yard and the bees are on the roof on platforms and mushrooms are growing under the kitchen sink and worms are in the basement making soil and sprouts are growing from the lambsquarter seeds we harvested in the alleyway and mulberries are falling all over the streets in the neighborhood and the crab apple tree next door that we grafted Johnagolds on to, and the Bradford pear down the street that we grafted Asian pears on to and the rosa rugosa, etc. Man, could we not go on forever? When this is taking place everywhere on small parcels, city and suburban lots and in alleyways and abandoned house sites and local parks and…
And what if all the huge monocultural farms of the world all became zone 5? Commodity, commodity, commodity, is that all there is? Is everything really for sale? Why does the discussion go to commoditization, more than not? How much could I get for my cucumbers? Maybe a nice fat squash?
28,000,000 million acres of back and front yards in America. Whence is all the food?
About the Author
Wayne Weiseman is certified by The Permaculture Institute of Australia and the Worldwide Permaculture Network as an instructor of the Permaculture Design Certificate Course. As a primitive wilderness instructor Wayne relies on observation techniques and a thorough understanding of the natural world to ply his trade. He has worked extensively with corporate executives in the art of team building, and the application of ideas in business and life developed through the observation of the cycles and connections found in the natural world. He has worked as a builder and contractor, herbalist, renewable energy expert, and farmer for the past thirty years. Wayne is Director of The Permaculture Project LLC and Permaculture Design-Build Collaborative LLC, full-service, international consulting and educational businesses promoting the ideas of eco-agriculture, renewable energy resources and eco-construction methods. He is also co-director of Permergy, an educational organization teaching Permaculture and sustainable systems to corporations.
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