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.


Deep Agroecology 2020: Wise, Noble, Gallant

December 28, 2019

“Agroecology is the future of farming, and its principles cannot be practiced soon enough. Agroecology is a major global force or movement that’s going to be gaining recognition and increasing credibility.”  —John Ikerd, agricultural economist

As I came to appreciate while learning about agroecology, the subject has depth, breadth, and sophistication. Agroecology offers a penetrating critique of the status quo for farms and food, and also a far-reaching, environmentally enlightened, justice-based vision of better ways to care for land, plants, animals, and people.

Rather than a mechanistic formula for domination of nature to produce profits for a small group of investors, the core ideas of agroecology arise naturally from living, rhythmic, biological appreciation of the world and the life that inhabits the world. Consequently, the global movement toward agroecology has the capacity to recognize and to employ systems that bring human needs into right relation with the needs of the natural world.

As University of Nebraska–Lincoln Professor Charles A Francis noted in Agroecology: The Ecology of Food Systems, food systems are vast and fragile. They exist in the multiple and interacting matrices of our increasingly complex national and global cultures.

Agroecology recognizes farms as ecosystems embedded in broader landscapes and social settings, with which they interact continually and significantly.

By way of introduction, Francis writes: “We define agroecology as the integrative study of the ecology of the entire food system, encompassing ecological, economic, and social dimensions.”

In consilience (or convergence) these many disciplines yield vantage points for studying the food system, for developing a broader set of criteria for evaluation beyond monetary profitability, and for transforming the farm and food system in a manifestly healthy way.

Agroecology is an umbrella concept that has been refined in recent decades, developed, and made ready for wide global implementation. Now is the time. Agroecology embraces organics, biodynamics, permaculture, urban ag, and a host of other sustainable, forward-looking initiatives grounded in justice for people, animals, and the land from which we all draw our sustenance.

Image by M Ameen from Pixabay

This is new territory for many, but it’s natural territory. Farmers cannot enter this territory successfully alone, though. They must be accompanied in various purposeful ways by the communities and households who receive their bounty and who take it into their bodies.

My intention in writing a new book on the topic — Deep Agroecology: Farms, Food, and Our Future — is to explain to a general audience and to students what agroecology already is, and to embed the concepts and practices more purposefully in the public mind. At the same time I saw an opportunity in writing to reach deep into our native roots in the Americas, as well as to add emphasis to subtle dimensions of agroecology, realms of critical mystery.

Another motivation for writing Deep Agroecology was to again make available, as many communicators have done through the millennia, a reminder that inspiriting yourself and then caring actively for the Earth, the sustenance we derive from it, and the communities we are part of, is a high, noble, and heroic calling. It’s especially gallant at this juncture of time and circumstance.


Dig in to 2020 – Seriously

December 26, 2019

You can purchase Deep Agroecology now at amazon.com


The Mandatory Morphing of America’s Family Farms

December 16, 2019

The United Nations (UN) has declared the years 2019-2028 to be the “Decade of Family Farming.” With this declaration the UN intends to create opportunities for people to transform existing food systems around the world so they are clean, sustainable, and just both economically and socially.

 

In this manner the UN hopes our farms can be key actors in helping the world achieve the urgent markers of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Necessary goals, no debate about that. But at the end of the very first year of the special UN Decade (2019), here in America our family farms are swiftly swirling down the drain. It’s an economic, climate, environmental, and social catastrophe fast surpassing the tribulations of the 1980s farm crisis. This time, for America and for the world, the stakes are heaps higher.

While multitudes of America’s traditional family farms are swirling down the drain of oblivion, there are positive possibilities…

…Reality, not ideology, makes morphing of the family farm mandatory….

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

 


“Hard-hitting. Powerful. A step further.” – A review of Deep Agroecology

November 21, 2019

Midwest Book Review has published a review of my new book, Deep Agroecology:  Farms, Food, and Our Future. Here are some snippets, and a link to the full review written by senior reviewer Diane C. Donovan.

“…deep agroecology is more than the promotion of another growing system. It represents a fundamental change in the perceptions of humans about the choices they make in planting, harvesting, and eating food, incorporating an ecological perspective that has its foundations in the long history of agrarian idealism…

“Deep Agroecology goes beyond farming systems to probe the philosophical, spiritual, and moral roots of human relationships with the land.

“The result is a hard-hitting, powerful survey that takes the food system ideal a step further by interrelating it to pursuits of justice, freedom, and health for the entire planet…”

The complete review is here.

agroecology deep

 

 


What’s your moral obligation in response to our climate emergency?

November 14, 2019

Image courtesy of Extinction Rebellion

According to the Alliance of World Scientists, as professionals they have a moral obligation to warn humanity about what they see evidenced. On November 5, 2019, over 11,000 of the group’s allied scientists warned us all again, this time via a formal statement in the journal BioScience: “Planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.”

Now that the scientists have once again fulfilled their obligation to warn of danger, it’s time for each of us to meet our moral obligation. What might that be? From my perspective, each of us has a responsibility to carefully consider the scientists’ warnings, and then to respond with wise action…


Agroecology is a dynamic response to climate change

November 4, 2019

Agroecology is a dynamic concept that has gained global prominence in scientific, agricultural, and political discourse. But not so much so far in the USA. More widespread knowledge is essential. Time to make that happen.

My new book — Deep Agroecology: Farms, Food, and Our Future — offers an introduction to the subject of agroecology, and then takes this critical subject wider and deeper.


Go agroecological or go extinct

October 22, 2019

… Based on the multitude of hard realities engendered by corporate chemical agriculture, it’s time to uproot the “get big or get out” farm slogans of Earl Butz and Sonny Perdue, and to supplant those damning words with something both wise and realistic: “Go agroecological or go extinct” …

The rest of my latest blog post is now live on Mother Earth News.


Deep Agroecology: Farms, Food, and Our Future

October 1, 2019

After many long seasons of work, I’m pleased to announce that my new book Deep Agroecology: Farms, Food, and Our Future is published. It’s available in both print and ebook formats.

In the context of our national and global circumstances, I regard Deep Agroecology as my most essential work, even more critical than Farms of Tomorrow, Profiles in Wisdom, or The Call of the Land.

My goal for Deep Agroecology is first to explain the urgent context and concepts of agroecology. Agroecology is our main chance to pass successfully through this time of upheaval and transition, to care rightly for the earth which feeds us, and to take our next step forward on a healthy evolutionary path.

In writing I’ve also sought to anchor and to expand the concept of agroecology by reaching deep into our native roots in the Americas, including an exploration of the subtle dimensions of our human relationship with the natural world.

I’m a journalist who has over 40 years experience writing for students and for the general public. Inspired by a professor’s provocative question, I explored agroecology for seven years before writing Deep Agroecology.


Here’s a sample of some of the early comments and reviews of Deep Agroecology. You can find more at my dedicated blog for the book.


“Thank you, Steven McFadden, for rich and moving clarity, as you weave for us the many threads of ‘deep agroecology.’ The vision you capture is not a choice, for in this dire moment for our Earth, it is life’s only possibility forward.” ~ Frances Moore Lappé, author Diet for a Small Planet, and cofounder of Food First and the Small Planet Institute

“…deep agroecology” is more than the promotion of another growing system. It represents a fundamental change…The result is a hard-hitting, powerful survey that takes the food system ideal a step further by interrelating it to pursuits of justice, freedom, and health for the entire planet…” ~ Midwest Book Reviews (11/2019)

“… The future of humanity depends on our heeding the wisdom of deep agroecology.” – John Ikerd, agricultural economist and author of Crisis and Opportunity: Sustainability in American Agriculture.

With respect, Steven


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