Face it: Farms, Food, and Our Future

May 19, 2019

Our farms, food, and future are woven together, dynamically enmeshed in this turbulent era. They form a matrix of potential concerning the key matters of climate change, pollution, diet, physical health, mental health, economic status, and our overall sense of well being.

These key matters come to the fore in Deep Agroecology, the book I’ve now finished writing. Through the winter and spring several astute readers have critiqued beta versions of the manuscript. Now an editor’s pen has been skillfully brought to bear upon the work. There are still more steps to climb before the presses roll. We will publish before summer is through. If you wish to learn more or to pre-order the book just follow the link.

 

 


A Broken Twig and Our Broken World

May 14, 2019

One sultry September about four decades ago, after having been prepared for the quest by true and knowledgeable friends, I sat on a New Hampshire mountaintop for four days and four nights.

Setting out on this first, formal quest, I held wild hopes for metaphysical marvels: clouds parting, maybe, angel voices, maybe, messengers arriving from celestial realms to deliver golden scrolls of wisdom, maybe. Make it so! Something spectacular!

But nothing mysterious or majestic happened at all. As far as I could tell, over those four sunsets and sunrises there was not as much as a quirk in the quantum field. Not that first year.

But that first time something key did unfold…

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


Deep Agroecology: Farms, Food, and Our Future ~ now available for pre-orders

April 22, 2019

As of today – Earth Day 2019 – my new book Deep Agroecology: Farms, Food, and Our Future is available for pre-order.

According with the spirit of Earth Day, we are publishing Deep Agroecology in service to the perennial ideals of healthy, and fulfilled lives for one and all on our home planet, Earth.

A quarter of a century ago, I had the privilege of serving as National Coordinator for Earth Day USA. I partnered with the Seventh Generation Fund to help bring the Council Circles project to hundreds of North American communities. This year I’m happy to mark the day with  announcement of a book that once again brings a council circle of wise voices together to offer native and agrarian wisdom ways forward for human beings and for our earth.

The way we tend the land that produces our food, and the way we eat, are the key factors in our physical, moral, and spiritual survival and development in this tumultuous era.

Elizabeth Wolf, my wife and partner, has played an indispensable role in bringing this book to life in a powerful and elegant way. I’ve dedicated the work to her, with love and appreciation.

eBOOK – You may pre-order the eBook version of Deep Agroecology now at this link.  Please note that the actual publication and shipping date is August 1, 2019.

SIGNED PRINT COPY – August 1, 2019 is also the publication date for the print edition. If you’d like to pre-order a copy of the print edition of Deep Agroecology personally inscribed to you by the author, please click on the Buy Now book image, which will take you to PayPal. The cost of the signed print book is $25 plus tax, inclusive of handling and shipping.

 

DEEP AGROECOLOGY
The ways we farm and the ways we eat

Will determine the destiny of life on earth.

Agroecology is an ecological approach to growing food and fiber that views farms and orchards as ecosystems. Internationally, agroecology is increasingly recognized as an approach capable of meeting productivity goals while replenishing the soil, sequestering climate destabilizing CO2, and striving toward justice for all the human beings and animals in the food system, from planters to eaters.

Deep agroecology arises from recognition that the way we farm will determine the destiny of life on the earth. As a philosophy and as an approach, deep agroecology weaves the spiritual realities of planet earth into direct and balanced relationship with the physical realities. Deep agroecology is a natural, logical and necessary next evolutionary step, graced with an array of wholesome, leading-edge principles and practices.

 


The Marvelous Million Hazelnut Campaign

March 29, 2019

Imagine the vast GMO-glyphosate soybean fields of America’s Heartland transformed into a perennial forest with swarms of hazelnut trees, deeply-rooted and thick as lilac bushes, fourteen feet tall, and laden heavy with oil-rich nuts that have a 101 uses.

Imagine the annual harvest of hazelnuts fulfilling a cornucopia of needs: for animal feed, for cooking oil, for fuel, for human food – and for many of the purposes and functions now fulfilled by soy.

How different the landscape. How changed the land itself, and all the creatures which share life upon the land. How profoundly different the environmental impact.

Chris Gamer of Minnesota and his allied visionaries have imagined all that. And after having imagined it, they’ve set about working to make the vision real via The Million Hazelnut Campaign…

The rest of my blog on the Million Hazelnut Campaign is at this link on Mother Earth News.

 

 


Revolution is Afoot for Organic Farms and Food

March 17, 2019

“The beginning of wisdom
is to call things by their right names.”
– Confucius

Thanks to the convenience of the Internet, I got to watch Dave Chapman’s riveting 37-minute talk on organic farms and food. He spoke on the topic with restrained passion earlier this month at a symposium held at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. A few days later sitting at my computer in New Mexico, I heard his message loud and clear. It matched what I know from my own observations, and he added depth of understanding: there is revolution afoot in the realm of organic farms and food.

The foods being labeled and sold as organic in America are under enormous pressure in the marketplace. Chapman, associate director of The Real Organic Project (ROP), said that people have discovered that there can be a lot of money in organics. By now it’s a $50 billion industry. “We are cursed by our own success,” Chapman commented. “The money is like blood in the water.”

The rest of my blog post is freely available at Mother Earth News


Coming soon: Deep Agroecology

February 25, 2019

We will be publishing my new book over the course of Summer 2019. To learn more, follow this link to my Chiron Communications website.

TreeMan.deepAg


Extreme Weather & Food Shocks Compel Climate-Emergency Plans

February 9, 2019

At this point most of us need look no further than outside our windows to see that climate change is upon us. For me in New Mexico, the alarming sight of a neighborhood emergency out the window came last summer in late July. That’s when a “thousand-year storm” ripped up our yard, overflowed the arroyos, inundated the basement of Santa Fe’s city hall, and washed-out streets around the region. The storm swamped gardens and farm plots aplenty.

From polar vortexes and churning tornados, to the relentless string of hurricanes, floods, and forest conflagrations, the earth changes of climate chaos are raging. To ignore this rampant reality, and to do nothing about it, is to invite peril.

As NASA and NOAA scientists put it this past week, “We’re no longer talking about a situation where global warming is something in the future. It’s here. It’s now.”

In this context, food production is increasingly susceptible to extreme climate and weather events, according to researchers publishing in the journal Nature Sustainability  (January, 2019). They report that the intensifying scale of weather disasters worldwide is related to climate change, and is having a steady, unsettling impact on global food systems and markets. Extreme events are slamming home repeatedly on land and sea.

Consider the news from just the last week:

Five Straight Record-breaking Hot Years – Scientists at NASA reported that the Earth’s average surface temperature in 2018 was the fourth highest in nearly 140 years of record-keeping and a continuation of an unmistakable warming trend. The data confirms the fact that the five warmest years in recorded history have been the last five. Further, 18 of the 19 warmest years have occurred since 2001.

Gigantic Hole in Antarctica – A colossal cavity 2/3 the size of Manhattan has been discovered growing in Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica, signaling rapid ice decay. Shocking the scientists who discovered it, the huge hole was found growing at an “explosive rate” according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Ice Shelf Tearing Apart – Also in Antarctica, the Brunt Ice Shelf is tearing itself apart and could create an iceberg the size of Delaware. Scientists say that will happen soon.

Himalayas Melting – At least a third of the ice in the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush will thaw this century as temperatures rise, disrupting river flows vital for growing crops from China to India, for about 1.65 billion human beings.

URGENT WAKE UP CALL
In recognition of the reality that climate change is underway now and already affecting billions of people across the globe, the Club of Rome has sounded an “urgent wake up call,” and published a global Climate Emergency Plan.

Based on their studies, the Club of Rome recognizes that climate change is the most pressing global challenge of our era, a force that constitutes an existential threat to humanity. To avoid further collapse of environmental, economic, social, and political systems, their plan sets out 10 priority actions, such as transforming energy systems, scaling-up technology, and reckoning with overpopulation. Finally, at number 8 on their list, they sound a call for acceleration of “regenerative land use policies.” For farms and food, the principal way they recommend for responding to their urgent call is to “adopt the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ (FAO) recommendations for 100% Climate Smart Agriculture  (CSA).” That is a critically weak, inadequate, and flawed recommendation.

According to the FAO, climate-smart agriculture is an approach that helps to reorient agriculture to support development and ensure food security in a changing climate. This approach is widely embraced by multinational industrial ag and chemical corporations, but widely criticized otherwise. In September 2015, for example, more than 350 civil society organizations called on national and international decision makers to reject “the dangerous rhetoric of climate smart agriculture.”

While corporate CSA sounds promising, the civil society groups argued, it’s actually greenwashing. Corporate CSA lacks social and environmental safeguards, and fails to prioritize farmers’ voices, knowledge, and rights. It should not be confused with agroecology, which is a global movement toward clean, holistic agriculture, based on principles of ecology, food security, food sovereignty, and food justice.

Long before corporate “CSA” co-opted the acronym, CSA was well-known in agricultural circles as standing for Community Supported Agriculture. That CSA – the original CSA – is but one example of real agroecology. Even in the face of multinational corporate dominance, true agroecological initiatives are continuing to proliferate around the world because strengthening resilience against food shocks by enhancing local food security is not just common sense, it is an imperative requirement of our era.

DEEPLY ROOTED SOUL MOVEMENT
Right now in America and around the world millions of people are actively pursuing many thousands of agroecological pathways forward, from food coops and real CSA farms, to the manifold permutations of urban agriculture, Transition Towns, and countless other creative endeavors to build clean and just local economies, and clean, just local food systems. In the light of climate change realities, millions more of these initiatives are required.

As Gary Nabhan expressed it in the context of his new book Food from the Radical Center, the good food movement is not just an idea. It’s a “deeply rooted soul force at work from coast to coast and north to south.” The Good Food-Local Food movement – whether locally anchored in a CSA, a co-op, a farmers market, or some other form – is civic responsibility driven by acutely realistic economic, environmental, and health concerns.

These agroecological initiatives are some of the pathways I strove to map out in earlier books, such as The Call of the Land, and Awakening Community Intelligence: CSA Farms as 21st Century Cornerstones.

In the first book on the original CSA, Farms of Tomorrow, my co-author Trauger Groh made an eloquent argument. Farming, he reasoned, is not just a business like any other profit-making business, but rather a precondition of all human life on earth, and thus a precondition of all economic activity. “As such,” we emphasized in the book, “farming is everyone’s responsibility, and has likewise to be accessible for everyone. The problems of agriculture and the environment belong not just to farmers, but are the common problems of all people.”

That’s the call to action that I, and thousands of other people, are sounding in the hope that many millions of people, even billions of people, will see and will recognize what is happening, and then take swift, powerful, intelligent, and strategic action through households, communities, and nations to build food security and thereby also help mitigate the unfolding pattern of climate change.


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