As Climate Chaos intensifies, agroecology stands as an essential response

September 26, 2020

Based on political talking points, many people kiss off the reality of climate change. They go on with their lives as if there is no threat to be concerned about at all.

But climate change (now more accurately spoken of as climate chaos) is severely real. with raging fires, roaring hurricanes, and parching drought, it’s impacting farms, food, and millions of lives. The population of environmental refugees is swelling around the globe. This is factual way beyond politics or propaganda.

A recent survey by Stanford University, however, found that when people are directly impacted by climate change, political divisions evaporate. The impacted people immediately begin to take the intensifying reality of climate change seriously. How could they do otherwise?

The USDA’s landmark report Climate Change, Global Food Security, and U.S. Food System concluded that climate change is going to impact global, regional, and local food security. It will drive an overall increase in food prices, and also disrupt food availability.

That’s a grim outlook. But the USDA report also states emphatically that adaptation can make a positive difference. That’s where households and communities of all sizes and constellations need to place their attention and their energy: effective adaptation. And that is one of the key reasons why I wrote Deep Agroecology: Farms, Food, and Our Future.

Climate chaos is here. It’s not coming at some future date. Embracing agroecological responses now, while it is possible, is wise, worthwhile, and essential.

Toward positive, proactive responses, I strongly recommend the new film Kiss the Ground. It’s available now on Netflix, and via DVD.


Deep Agroecology earns a five-star review

August 15, 2020

This five-star book review just in. The review is by Kimberlee J Benart for Readers’ Favorite:

If you’re interested in integrating modern sustainable agriculture with ancient native wisdom to meet our future food needs while regenerating our planet, Deep Agroecology: Farms, Food, and Our Future by Steven McFadden is for you.

The term “agroecology” has been used since 1928 to refer to the merger of agronomy and ecology, but it’s now a growing international movement with broader goals.

“Deep agroecology” is “our next natural, intelligent, and necessary evolutionary step” for a better, cleaner, healthier, more just world through the transformation of agriculture from an industrialized and chemicalized agribusiness model to a holistic approach which supports a culture of respect for the earth and all life on it; a culture in which farmers are our heroes. An extensive list of resources is included and a subject index is provided.

In Deep Agroecology, Steven McFadden gives us an impressive and impassioned in-depth treatment on one of the most important topics of our day: caring for our earth so we can feed the people who live on it. Add the issue of water resources management, which is interconnected with agriculture, and we survive or we perish on the direction we take.

While in today’s world we’re accustomed to turning to technology to find our solutions, McFadden reminds us that we have deep cultural roots which need to be brought to bear as well: the wisdom, clarity, integrity, and spirit-centeredness of indigenous peoples.

With the skill of a seasoned journalist, McFadden ties together topics of agrarian science, economics, and ancient spirituality in an approachable style that gives the reader not only food for thought but inspiration for action.

Highly recommended.


High Agroecology: Sunflower Style

August 10, 2020
SuperSunflower

Photo by Liz Wolf

While Deep Agroecology is a serious subject, and also the title of my award-winning book, High Agroecology, on the other hand, is the lighthearted name I am giving to my stupendously tall sunflower.

Over the years I’ve grown many a sunflower, but the specimen in this photograph, taken August 10, 2020, is by far the tallest. I reckon it is 15 feet tall, give or take. The secret? Just a normal application of compost, but extraordinary, all-natural biodynamic compost from Common Good Farm in Raymond, Nebraska. Thank you, Evrett Lundquist and Ruthie Goodfarmer for your compost and for all you do.

Since our county fair is an iffy proposition this year, I took the liberty of awarding myself a blue ribbon, fashioned from a blue t-shirt and a red tomato.

 


CSA 2020: It’s not just about food

May 22, 2020

Among the cascade of changes the coronavirus pandemic has unleashed is a wave of interest in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). In a time of insecurity, people like knowing where their food comes from. It’s basic…

…With this wave of interest and energy pouring to into CSA and various food-box schemes, questions arise. Where will the energy go? Will new CSAs follow a business model as many people advocate? With the desperate poverty and hunger now afflicting the nation and the world, that emphasis could become more challenging than usual.

Or will CSAs continue to develop as a range of creative community models? Will CSAs draw in, employ, and maintain the support of local communities so the farm keeps going even as the world turns upside down? Many people are now beginning to recognize the imperative value CSA farms can have in an era of global sickness, economic calamity, and climate catastrophe…

< The full blog post is at Mother Earth News >

 


Towards deep agroecology (The Ecologist)

May 4, 2020

The world’s leading environmental platform, The Ecologist, has published my essay, Towards deep agroecology. The essay gets the story across concisely in about 900 words. Here are the introductory paragraphs:

“Agroecology presents an inspirational and pragmatic vision of what is necessary and possible as we strive to re-organize our food chain in response to this pandemic, and to pollution, climate breakdown, and the intensifying hegemony of multinational chemical, drug, and industrial corporations.

“Agroecology is an expression of practical, purposeful, and realistic hope. It’s a global vision that has been dreamed and then acted upon by millions of people around the world. But many millions more human beings, billions more actually, are needed to take up and follow the vision now…”

The full essay in The Ecologist is here.


QUIZ: What’s your LFQ? (Local Food Quotient)

April 9, 2020

People often talk about IQ, the Intelligence Quotient, and certainly that can be important. But what about your LFQ, your Local Food Quotient? With all the changes taking place in the world, especially in the critical farm and food scene, that can be important as well.

As I define it for this non-scientific quiz, your LFQ is an informal indicator of how aware you are of the bountiful benefits of buying and eating locally grown fresh food. It also yields a glimpse of how engaged you are in supporting local growers and fresh food for your own health, for your family’s health, and for the health of your community and your natural environment.

To calculate your LFQ, answer these yes or no questions. Give yourself three carrots for every yes answer, and one empty basket for every no answer. Then forget about the empty baskets. Add up your carrots, and see where you fit on the LFQ scoreboard.

  • Have you ever grown any of your own food?
  • Do you know what a food desert is?
  • Do you have a neighbor you talk with who has a vegetable garden?
  • Have you ever picked wild berries, or any other wild food?
  • Have you ever enjoyed an outing to a u-pick berry farm?
  • Have you ever eaten eggs laid by a hen that you have personally seen (or heard cluck)?
  • Have you ever said hello to a local farmer and shaken his or her hand?
  • Have you ever picked vegetables in a garden or field?
  • Do you know where most of your food comes from?
  • Does the supermarket you shop at stock any food from local growers or producers?
  • Do you think they would if you asked them?
  • Have you ever enjoyed a tomato from a grower in the county where you live?
  • Have you ever enjoyed an apple pie made with apples grown in your county or state?
  • Do you know about any local farmers growing food for the community where you live?
  • Do you have a plan to grow more food, or purchase more local food, in 2020?

FIGURE IT OUT
Perfect score:  45 carrots
Your score:       ?

SCOREBOARD RANKINGS
0              carrots             Missing Out
3 to 12     carrots             Nibbler
12 to 24   carrots             Muncher
24-36      carrots             Provider
36-45      carrots             Community Chow Champion

N.B. I originally created this quiz for, and in collaboration with, Buy Fresh Buy Local Nebraska. BFBLN decided to print a shorter, edited version in their 2020 annual guide, so I thought I’d roll this version out on my Deep Agroecology blog. – Steven McFadden

 


Affirmative Agroecological Responses to Coronavirus

March 30, 2020

Driven by the shuttered economies and supply chain disruptions provoked by the Coronavirus, and our basic human survival instincts, people have churned up a tsunami of affirmative agroecological activity toward securing garden seeds, growing food cooperatively, and otherwise connecting with local farms.

Good thing. Pay attention. On March 26 the Director General of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Qu Dongyu, stated “the COVID19 pandemic is affecting food systems and all dimensions of food security across the world…”

It’s not just the pandemic that’s making things dicey. Tough restrictions at the US-Mexico border have observers suspecting that skilled farmworkers may be in short supply, undermining the capacity of farms to be productive. Shocks to the food system are possible.

But thanks to the work of a wide network of agroecological enterprises, there are many pathways for people to help develop and accelerate a wave of affirmative agroecological farm-and-food responses for enhanced food security…

The rest of my blog post is at Mother Earth News.


Encourage Courage: Pollen’s Perils and Promises

March 19, 2020

If you are drawn to read this then it’s probable that you are already familiar with the perils of pollen, the aggravations of allergy. Enough about that. But as you reckon with pollen this season — while coronavirus drifts ominously across the land — you may find it strengthening to reflect on the promise pollen signals as an agent of the flowers.

When I was writing Legend of the Rainbow Warriors decades ago, I gained some uncommon insights into the many-petaled mysteries of flowers. My senses were roused through color, form, fragrance, and essence…

…In our time of coronavirus, as we all contend with the pandemic swirling through our lives, it strikes me that many people could benefit from engaging the essence of one flower in particular, borage. Borage can help lift feelings of heavy heartedness, encourage the quality of courage, and generally add a note of buoyancy to the soul.

My full blog post is available now at Mother Earth News.


Engage the heart of the earth with deep agroecology

February 28, 2020

We will define our destiny by the ways we farm, and the ways we eat.

Back in the 1980s, perhaps earlier, Trauger Groh articulated that foundational idea. An agrarian adept and a CSA farm pioneer, Trauger (1932-2016) was my coauthor for both Farms of Tomorrow, and Farms of Tomorrow Revisited. His ideas made an enduring impression on me, and many others.

I felt then and I feel today that the point is irrefutable. Farms and food are the foundation of our corrupted present. They also embody the practical promise of a wholly balanced and healthy destiny on earth for human beings, animals, and plants.

Because we are at a critical stage of our group life on Earth, I wanted to emphasize this foundational idea again. That’s one key reason that motivated me to write another book, Deep Agroecology: Farms, Food, and Our Future.

After over 40 years of engagement with farms, food, and the escalating climate crisis, I regard agroecology as our best set of tools for tending land and animals, for feeding ourselves wisely, and for making an intelligent, strategic effort to stabilize the deteriorating environment…

The rest of my blog is live at Mother Earth News.


Harken to the Wisdom Ways of Agroecology

January 7, 2020

Harken pay heed to the wisdom ways of agroecology and to our native roots. That’s my advice as climate and geopolitical whirlwinds intensify. Those wisdom ways mark the path to a sane and healthy future for us all.

Grandfather William Commanda, Algonquin. Photo by Romola Vasantha Thumbadoo.

Last year the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) published a kick-in-the-gut report about the surging wave of extinction upon our local life-support system, Planet Earth.

Their report—based on the work of 450 researchers from around the world and 15,000 scientific and government reports—warned of immediate, grave danger. “The overwhelming evidence…from a wide range of different fields of knowledge, presents an ominous picture.”

The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating rapidly. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”

…The late Algonquin elder Grandfather William Commanda was among the many native elders offering explicit, and enduring guidance on how to reckon with this…

…The rest of this blog post is available at Mother Earth News.

Image by FlashAlexander, Pixabay.


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