As we face the need to limit our environmental impacts, drawing attention to pre-industrial cultures and their ecological contexts may offer some useful pointers towards a viable future.
Hundreds of grassroots groups have called out the UN, saying they are still being excluded and claiming the summit is “poised to repeat the failures” of two years ago and want to see fundamental change in food systems.
Public finance has a key role to play in agriculture. Instead of propping up corporate interests, it should learn from local producers.
Numerous studies have shown that small farms are not only more productive per hectare of land, but that they also protect biodiversity better, produce more diverse and more nutritious food, create more jobs and keep more people on the land.
I wannabe a voice as best I can for those tried and tested strategies of innumerable small-scale and peasant farmers down the ages who for the most part never left a script, never had a book to sell, a big idea or a guru to promote, but who I believe have nevertheless still left much from which people today can learn.
If we’re to bequeath a habitable and abundant planet to our descendants, a key part of that reappraisal involves rethinking the relevance of small farm or ‘peasant’ societies that are often dismissed for their ‘backwardness’ or buried under an unusable legacy of romanticism and nostalgia.
The heavy-handed nostalgia for a perfected vision of past modern achievements as the lodestar of human progress offered by figures like Steven Pinker is stuck in the past. It’s time to move forwards to a small farm future.
Planting spring gardens, harvesting late winter greens, grazing the flocks, working the bees — from time to time, when the light hit just right, I caught the merest glimmer of what a saner world could be.
In my vision we see farming as landscape management and food is based on the landscape diet, i.e. that you eat food from the landscape you live in. Communities are jointly deciding on major principles of how the landscape is managed and take responsibility for that farmers can do their job in a good way – and eat the stuff from that land.
International migration, then, is controversial every which way you choose to look at it. So let me take a deep breath and try to define a pragmatism of my own around the issue
So ironically, perhaps the only chance for a truly liberal politics of friends and not enemies now lies in reconstructing a vaishya localism. But perhaps I’m being too pessimistic…?
When I made a case for a small farm future somewhere or other a while back, I got a tweeted reply “Your utopia is my dystopia”. I found this slightly odd since the case I try to make for small-scale farming isn’t that it’s the best of all possible worlds – more like the best of a bad job given the circumstances we face.