Now imagine the pleasure offered by farms where families are free to roam fields filled not just with one crop, but dozens – from mushrooms and tubers to berries and small fruit trees, with larger nut trees towering above and edible vines in between. This is the true, incalculable value of promiscuous cultures.
Throughout the European part of the Mediterranean – an area stretching from Greece through Italy, France and Spain, the coltura promiscua or coltura mista (translated as “promiscuous agriculture”, polyculture or mixed farming) landscapes predominated in many regions.
My guess is that traditional mixed farming strategies will come into their own again if, as seems likely, we move towards a more energy and phosphate constrained future.
While several conventional conservation practices applied to corn-soybean fields can reduce nutrient loss, converting annual crop acreage to perennial biomass crops would be far more effective.
I think what this analysis shows is that, unlike extensive pastoralism, intensive, ‘organic’/ agroecological, local ‘peasant’ farming is feasible for national self-provisioning.