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.

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.

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.

 

 


Do Not Hit the Snooze Button. Earth Changes and Food Security

February 27, 2019

As of this month I have again started blogging for Mother Earth News, the original guide to living wisely upon the earth. It’s good to be back after having turned my attention to book writing for the last couple of years. There’s lots to blog about.

My first blog for Mother is titled Do Not Hit the Snooze Button. It’s about the thousands of wake-up calls that scientists, environmentalists, and nature itself have been ringing out for the last several decades. That ringing is deafening right now, as detailed in the blog. “As scientists from NASA, NOAA, and the UN worded it in January 2019, “We’re no longer talking about a situation where global warming is something in the future. It’s here. It’s now.”

In the context of our turbulent reality, the blog post points out that the sustainable and local food movements are keenly shrewd and resourceful responses that need to be scaled up massively now. The threat that links all these positive, proactive responses are agroecology and deep agroecology.  You can read my blog for Mother Earth News here.

Much more to come…


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.


Farms of Tomorrow Revisited

November 1, 2018

Our classic book Farms of Tomorrow Revisited continues to support the development of healthy farm & food community linkages.

deep agroecology deep agroecology, #deepagroecology, #deepagroecology

 

https://amzn.to/2JtG70B


Intelligent, strategic responses to political, economic, social & climate turbulence

January 2, 2017

My intention with the half-hour Youtube offering below is to present CSA farms to the public in the context of the severe turbulence now afoot in politics, economics, social structure, and climate change. I regard CSA farms as intelligent and strategic responses to all these hard realities.

My hope is that the slide show lecture, which is freely available, will be used to help strengthen community food initiatives around the Americas, and especially help to engage many more new people. We are going to need many more strong, vibrant local food systems, and we need them now.


Climate Change and the Power of Community

October 7, 2015

I wrote out a quick question on a slip of paper, and sent it on to the moderator last night as Bill McKibben of 350.org finished his lecture for the E.N.Thompson Forum in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Bill McKibben. Image from UBC via Creative Commons.

Bill McKibben. Image from UBC via Creative Commons.

“What about the role of industrial agriculture in climate change?” I wrote. A few minutes later the moderator posed the question to McKibben, who had a ready answer.

Industrial agriculture is a factor in global warming, he said, contributing about 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. “That needs to change,” he added.

McKibben said that all through the Holocene Epoch (the last 12,00 years) we human beings have been able to count on the basic stability of habitable conditions that allow agriculture. There have always been good years and bad years in one place or another, but the basic pattern has been stable.

“We can’t count on that any more,” McKibben said. “Climate change is biting harder and faster than we thought…It’s going to impact our ability to grow food.”

As McKibben was speaking the waters were still rising in the epic South Carolina flood catastrophe brought on by the whiplash of Hurricane Joaquin, and 2015 was decidedly on track to be the hottest year in recorded history.

“The disaster in South Carolina is off the charts,” he said, “but that kind of stuff is happening somewhere in the world every day now. And we are just getting started…We’re not going to stop global warming. It’s too late for that. But if we act fast enough and decisively enough, we may slow it enough to survive.”

McKibben said this is a beautiful moment for agriculture because for the first time in 150 years the number of farms is going up, not down. He commented that a lot of young people are seeing that the vocation of sustainable farming can help them address climate change by reducing ag emissions through agroecological approaches and improving the soil health so that it absorbs CO2.

In concluding his lecture McKibben observed that for years we have emphasized the importance of taking individual actions – such as using energy efficient light bulbs, riding bikes, and installing solar panels – as a way of countering climate change. “But that’s not going to do it,” he said. “It’s just not enough to stop climate change. Climate change causes are structural and systemic, and now pose the greatest threat of all time to human life.”

tpHe said climate change is requiring us to come together in a movement. “The power of community is the theme of the year ahead…Community is one of the best manifestations of being a human being. We are social creatures. We derive a great deal of satisfaction in working with each other toward a common end.”

McKibben and 350.org will be in Paris this December with a massive community of activists working toward a common end by sending a message to the world governments meeting for COP21 to try to strike a new global climate agreement. That message will be, “make this a turning point.”

In the aftermath of McKibben’s lecture, no doubt because it is the central topic commanding my attention these days, I saw again how important Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) can be in the context of climate change. CSA creates pathways for all manner and shapes of communities to apply themselves in support of the kind of agroecological healing of the land that will, indeed, make this a turning point. It’s time for Awakening Community Intelligence.


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