I’ve been blogging for over six years under this ‘Small Farm Future’ moniker, without devoting much effort to defining what a ‘small farm’ actually is. So I thought I’d try to make at least some minor amends on that score in this post.
For the last 4,000 years the commonest human occupation has been small-scale agriculture. Although it has been a few generations since that was the case in the United States, the image of the small family farm is still a powerful icon of our cultural identity.
Bill Parke of Blackview Farm, a pasture-based livestock farm that uses rotational grazing and Holistic Management practices, was nice enough to sit down with me and talk for a bit about the farming life.
About a year ago I started publishing on this site various projections for how the future population of southwest England where I live might be able to feed itself substantially on the basis of small-scale, relatively self-reliant ‘peasant’ farming – convincing myself, if no one else, in the process that such a ‘Peasant’s Republic of Wessex’ might be feasible.
I heard about Plowright Organic last year and was intrigued; partly because they’re growing on 30 acres of land and use some machinery on the land. But what got me most interested was the fact that they provide totally farm grown veg boxes for nine months of the year; something that few farms in this country can achieve.
I promised a turn to more practical matters, and since the discussions under both my last two posts somehow managed to turn, as all discussions should, from global politics to market gardening, let’s have a think about the latter. Especially because I recently received a query from some start-up market gardeners asking some interesting questions about the business side of it, which struck me as good material to share in a blog post and hopefully elicit some other people’s responses.
Consumers increasingly care about where their food comes from, how it is produced and how it impacts their health. This is generating demand for sustainable food and has enabled the recent resurgence of small-scale farming that produces environmentally sound and ethical produce.
And so I come to my final blog post of 2016, and what a year it’s been. I’ve been asked by Dark Mountain to write a retrospective of it, which I hope will be up on their website soon. I’ll be offering some thoughts on the larger events of the world in that post, so here I’m mostly just going to offer a few nuggets focused on my specific theme of small-scale farming, and its future.
Without further ado, I’m going to describe the layout of an ‘average’ 10 hectare holding in the Peasant’s Republic of Wessex, circa 2039, as introduced in various preceding posts.
There is a moment that comes every year, usually about this time, when the heat and humidity kills all ambition on the farm.
A celebration of farming through the senses.