I would like to start off by stating that when feeding our family, if we can not raise or grow it ourselves or buy it from someone local who grows or raises it in the same way that we do, we try and buy certified organic, GMO free food whenever possible.
I also want to say that I know there are farmers out there; organic and conventional, I know some of them, that are using methods in their farming practices that try and rebuild the health of their land and impart as minimal damage to the environment as they possibly can. For this article however, I am speaking about the way farming is done across the majority of North America.
I listen to 840 CFCW AM radio because I’m an old man, or so says my wife. Its an Alberta wide radio station so of course there are a lot of advertisements geared toward farmers. It amazes me how many of the ads are for pesticides, fertilizers or GMO “round up ready” crops. These products are terrible for the environment, polluting our limited fresh water supplies, killing beneficial insects such as bees that are needed for pollination and they strip the soil of its nutrients and kill the microorganisms that are needed to keep it fertile, living and healthy. This method of farming has been going on for over 100 years and we are starting to see more and more the amount of damage it is causing to the environment.
Conventional farming uses large equipment, heavy tillage, irrigation and other methods that take from the land and environment without giving anything back. They are monocrop systems requiring lots of outside inputs that seek to maximize the output of a single type of crop or food. These conventional farming systems are way more susceptible to pests and disease. A single pest or disease will wipe out the entire crop. In an effort to try and control these problems we use GMO’s, spray poison on our food and put it into our soils in the form of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
While the organic model is much better in the fact that it doesn’t use the synthetic poison pesticides and fertilizers its still not the solution to repairing our damaged soils and ecosystems. It is essentially a substitution model replacing the synthetic fertilizers and pesticides with organically approved products and still uses a lot of the same farming methods as conventional. Neither of these get to the root cause of the problems and ask why we have these pests, weeds and disease.
Chemicals aren’t needed in nature. If we look at nature we see very biodiverse systems that don’t crumble entirely because a single disease or type of pest comes along. If we design our food systems to mimic perennial based systems like we see in nature by using Permaculture design, holistic management and other regenerative type farming practices we can have healthy, abundant and resilient food systems instead of the fragile annually based monocrop systems that are the norm. These design practices and principals can eliminate tilling, irrigation and other types of damaging farming methods entirely and will restore the health of our water, soils and the environment while at the same time having plenty of clean, healthy food to feed the entire world. So, let’s think bigger folks, let’s think beyond organic!
Cassandra and I are hoping to take a Holistic Management course this winter and I am planning on taking a 2 week highly intensive permaculture design course (PDC) in the next couple years so we can better know and use these practices and principals to build and shape our land and grow healthy, nutrient dense food for our family and yours.
I’ve included some links on permaculture and holistic management but if you have time I highly suggest surfing the internet as it is FULL of great information on the subjects.
I was first introduced to permaculture about 3 ½ years ago while listening to a podcast by Jack Spirko of:
One of the first permaculture videos I ever watched was ”Greening The Desert” by one of my permaculture hero’s Geoff Lawton. Here is a link to some of his videos
Here are a couple holistic management links to check out:
And a cool TED video of Allan Savory (holistic management):