by Tom Dennen
“Whether they are known as home, mixed, backyard, kitchen, farmyard, compound or homestead gardens, family food production systems are found in most regions of most countries worldwide. They may be the oldest production system known and their very persistence is proof of their intrinsic economic and nutritional merit” -Robin Marsh .
HOW THEY SEE US!
As we all know, the financial world is approaching a crisis point, as are the world’s roads and bridges, sewage systems, transport systems and the rest because no money has been spent on them.
Commonly perceived consequences of the west’s economic ‘adjustment’ now under way include ‘extreme events’ that are not earthquakes nor savage rainstorms, but massive interruptions of infrastructure functions including food distribution that maintain the world’s economies, which we take completely for granted, especially food.
On Tuesday, August 16 Northern India’s electrical grid went down. Six hundred million people, half of the country’s population of 1.5 bn, were without electricity. Fortunately, power was restored by the next day. If the outage had gone into a third day, without electricity to pump gas, food delivery trucks would also have been down and supermarkets would soon have been out of food.
For this very reason, in anticipation of catastrophes like India’s, millions of people, Individuals and small communities all over the world for the last decade or so have been responding to the idea that supermarkets can run out of food.
They have turned to Permaculture,Earth ship construction, generally ‘gettng off the grid’ – one way or another becoming ‘Preppers or Permies, whatever’
Permaculture comes from the combination of permanent agriculture and permanent culture. Permaculture is actually an approach in designing human settlements and perennial agri systems that copies relationships found in natural ecologies. It is a design system for sustainable living and in all aspect of human endeavour. It is a unique green career that leads into what is emerging today as Ecovillages and Ecocities, a return to the ancient Commons and the even more ancient Garden of Eden.
The Chinese are Permaculture masters
WHAT IS PERMACULTURE?
Permaculture is inter-disciplinary, knows no language or religious differences except in how the Master Chef prepares the food!
It means that Food Sovereignty is the right of all peoples, communities, and countries to define their own agricultural, labour, fishing, food and land policies which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate to their unique circumstances. It includes the true right to food and to produce food, which means that all people have the right to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food and to food-producing resources and the ability to sustain themselves and their societies.
When the people control the keys to the granary, they discover the Economic Dimension of Eco Villages. As local groups and communities create their own local scrip currencies and exchange systems, they learn about economist’s deepest secret: money and information are equivalent – and neither is scarce! – Hazel Henderson
ANY WHOLE COMMUNITIES DOING IT?
When the small British mill town of Todmorden, tucked in between Yorkshire and Lancashire, first began installing fruit and vegetable gardens all around the area as part of the Incredible Edible program, it likely had no idea that the novel, yet simple, concept would make the town a foremost inspirational and self-sustaining model of the future.
ANYONE ELSE, LIKE FOR CENTURIES?
51% of Russian agricultural output is home grown – on 7% of the land! When Russia’s consumer-capitalist economy collapsed, she survived without general starvation (like America in the 30′s) even in the severe depression that followed.
“Poverty” is rare in Russia if you define Food Security as not being poor.
SO WHAT IS POVERTY, REALLY?
In the Capitalist world, poverty is the result of an embedded disconnect between mainstream society and those who become ‘unnecessary’ for sustaining its capital growth; people who become the ‘unemployable’, the discarded, those who become ‘the poor’ by definition.
The United Nations defines poverty as a denial of choices and opportunities, even a violation of human dignity.
Poverty means a denial of the basic capacity to participate effectively in society,
Yet possibly these are the very people most suitable for survival.
But I am not talking about ‘the poor’.
Food security is a concept that has evolved in the States during the 1990’s far beyond the traditional focus on the supply of food at the national level” (USAID 1995). The definition adopted by the countries attending the World Food summit of 1996 and reconfirmed in 2002 accepts USAID’s three key concepts:
i. food availability for all levels of society, every day
ii.food access and
However a fourth concept is increasingly becoming accepted; namely,risks that can disrupt any one of the first three factors (India last month).
Below is a graph of the Baltic Dry Index of global raw material shipping – not how many ships are available – over the last ten years.
Recovery since the 2008 crash has been only two thirds and the current drop from end December 2012 has only reached 55% below last year, indicating another large economic downturn in the VERY near term – you can see, we are at the same level a 2008
The self-sufficiency aspect of Community gardens could take the ‘jobless’ stigma away, even make it disappear if the status of creating one’s own food supply was higher than a mere ‘job’ in a workplace where only part of the wealth created there is taken home by the worker.
People do not need ‘a job’ if they can feed themselves – farmers don’t have ‘jobs’ – I’d rather be seen as a farmer than as a jobless bum.
With few exceptions, the concept of sustainable home gardening is not supported beyond very expensive, experimental ‘poverty alleviation’ and nowhere yet is sustainable food security an issue with the middle classes, “Transition Towns” and Permaculture societies notwithstanding.
infrastructure collapse, particularly food distribution, the entire society is vulnerable.
OH, AND BY THE WAY…