Where is all the food going to come from?
And Where will all the food come from?
If the Green Anarchist dream was realized, if civilization was to collapse in this country, today, would you be ready? Do you have the skills to supply yourself with a FULL, nutritious diet? If you are advocating the collapse of a system you remain dependent on for your food, fiber and fuel, are you not subscribing to suicide?
Ted Kaczynski addressed this in an interview published in the Fall/Winter 1999-2000 issue of Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed when he said:
“If it [civilization] collapses there is going to be social disorder, there is going to be starvation, there aren’t going to be any more spare parts or fuel for farm equipment, there won’t be anymore pesticide or fertilizer on which modern agriculture are dependent. So there isn’t going to be enough food to go around, so then what happens? This is something that, as far as I’ve read, I haven’t seen any radicals facing up to this issue.”
He mentions that eco-anarchists should not be trying to persuade the masses that we are right, instead we must focus on increasing the tensions in society to the point where things start to break down. It is not a question of whether the breakdown will occur or not; it is only a question of when. The most effective way of increasing creative tension in society is to offer an alternative and show the masses that they do not need to be a part of the all- consuming culture that is destroying life.
The anarcho-primitivists, others who see “primativism” as a model for life, and the entire population must perceive the predictable consequences of the collapse of civilization. We must not keep our heads in the sand. The collapse of civilization is occurring at this point in time in other countries of the world, and within your life time it will be perceivable to you. Are you ready for it? Will your corner store, garden, dumpster, or whatever system of food attainment you chose providing for your whole diet, fiber and fuel consumption provide for you when the civilized system falls?
I agree with Ted Kaczynski, I have not come across any group of people, eco-anarchist or otherwise on this continent, who, at this moment, have the skills to be sustainably self sufficient in food, fiber and fuel production. There are some models and the theory is there, but we need to put these into practice. In the book The Final Empire, The Collapse of Civilization , The Seed of the Future William Kotke writes about the current situation, the imminent collapse of the addictive overconsuming culture and the necessity for the immediate establishment of seed communities. Kotke says the guiding principal of these seed communities should be respect for the soil. The health of the soil is what will sustain people. These seed communities will be populated by people who posses highly sophisticated, low technological skills. They will be able to live a sustainable, self-sufficient life that would be in harmony with the whole community of life. Revolution will come, it’s occurring now in many other countries. The question is, do you want to learn the imperative skills of survival now, when it can still be fun and you have room for error or later when it will not be so fun and error means starvation and death. The choice is yours.
If we know what is coming why are more anarcho groups not working on an alternative? And I do not mean simply reading Fukuokas’ One Straw Revolution or reading Bill Mollisons’ Permaculture Manual or reading at all..... I mean why are we not doing, why are we not trying to feed ourselves a fully nutritious diet, growing all our fiber and fuel needs and creating a soil respecting culture in the process?
As far as I know human beings lived as hunter and gatherers for 99% of the time we have been humans, I believe the system of totalitarian agriculture is what set the gears of civilization in motion and got us were we are today. To re-harmonize, and to emerge with the symphony of nature, we will progress to a so called “primitive state”, a state of high sophistication and low technological practices. It is my desire that this reemergence with the community of life be as loving and peaceful a process as possible. I believe that through the re-adoption of human scale farming practices we could take the first step towards a more primitive, self governed awareness.
Now that I have lamented I must offer a practical solution on how people can progress toward the emergence with nature and produce all their own food, fiber and fuel in a way that respects the health of the soil.
It is unrealistic to think that the civilized population of the world will all become foragers in the here and now, aside from our habits of consumption there simply is not enough wild space to feed everyone in such a way. Instead, I believe that through a succession of various sustainable agricultural techniques we will be able to support transformation from an addicted overconsuming culture to tribes of free thinking humans.
There are several sustainable agricultural models that will allow people to transcend the current civilization to a more basic culture which is guided by memes of abundance and generosity and not greed and scarcity. Understand that what is called ‘organic agriculture’ can be almost as detrimental to soil fertility as conventional chemical mechanized agriculture. If a system of farming is decreasing the fertility of the soil in one place to increase it in another that agricultural system is not sustainable. Therefore the use of manure, fertilizers and compost from another soils are not long term solutions to the issue of soil fertility. The practical challenge to using sustainable models is in the time it takes to learn these methods sufficiently to produce a full diet, fiber and fuel. My understand of Masanobu Fukuokas’ natural farming system is limited but I believe his methods take about 15 years to learn in order to be able to reach the skill levels, understanding and yields that will sustain human life. Permaculture, as far as I have read, describes intense systems of energy flow but these systems would take about 30 years to mature and produce sufficient food. Agroforesty, indigenous farming, natural rainfall “arid” farming and traditional Asian blue-green algal wet rice farming are all potential methods for self sufficient, but they take time to learn and practice. So how do we feed ourselves in the mean time?
The only system of agriculture I have encountered that address the issue of more readily producing food, fiber and fuel in a way that promotes the health of the soil is a system called “Grow Biointensive” Sustainable Mini-Farming. Since 1972 Ecology Action., a small non-profit organization has dedicated itself to finding practical, human scale, environmentally sound solutions to urban and rural food, clothing, shelter, and energy issues through research, development, education and outreach programs. From this work the “Grow Biointensive” Sustainable Mini-Farming techniques have been developed without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides and crop yields have been in the range of 2 to 16+ times the US commercial mechanized levels. I have dedicated the next portion of my life to the intense study, practice and teaching of this system. It is my vision that through a practical synthesis of “Grow Biointensive” and these other sustainable agricultural techniques, seed communities can make real the process towards harmonization. What needs to happen for these seed communities to form is for progressive, open-minded people to come together, and develop community.
The focus of “Grow Biointensive” Sustainable Mini-Farming is the growth of healthy soil to grow healthy food to grow healthy people. This is achieved though eight essential practices, these are: 1) deep soil preparation which allows 2) close plant spacing and the practice of 3) companion planting using 4) open pollinated seeds all facilitated by the application of 5) compost obtained from 6) sustainable soil fertility (carbon farming, planting approximately 60% of the growing area in dual-purpose seed and grain crops) which provides a 7) complete diet (calorie farming) within a 8) WHOLE SYSTEM and this system is monitored by data collection and maintained by networking.
I will discuss these practices in more detail at some other time. The main idea for this article is to pose the questions.... where is your food going to come from? Can you do this? Can you tear up the concrete and learn how to grow soil and grow your own food with no inputs from the current predominant system?
I visited an elementary school in Davis California the other day and a grand vision I did see: a 10’x10’ section of concrete had been jack hammered out and in its place lettuce, cabbage and daisies grew. With the remains of the broken concrete the children had made a small walking path through the garden, it was a sight any anarchist would be proud of..
This is getting too darn long, but I have to share my vision with you. To demonstrate the practical potential for sustainable food self-sufficiency I believe we must feed people hand -grown food. As global resistance to the powers of corporate domination mounts, mass numbers of people will come together in actions to demonstrate their resistance. Incorporated with the logistical planning of these actions we could also plan Direct Action Gardens specifically to provide FULL diets for the participants. These Direct Action Gardens would be entirely sustainable and upon completion of the action the garden could become an activist, full diet CSA. If we can show people from all walks of life that growing an entire diet with our own hands and without any inputs from Leviathan is possible, not to mention more nutritious and tasty, we are showing by example that revolution from a system of scarcity to a system of abundance is possible and desirable.
Hell ya, we can do it! We need to stop the cycle of abuse, abuse of ourselves, abuse of each other and abuse of the community of life. Arm your desires, create affinity with others, educate yourself about self-sufficiency and community skills and put it all into practice by tearing up the concrete and digging in some raised beds. Practice is the most advanced form of theory.
If “Grow Biointensive” interests you, consider reading How to Grow More Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains and Other Crops Than You Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine by John Jeavons, and The Sustainable Vegetable Garden by John Jeavons and Carol Cox, you can write Bountiful Gardens, 18001 Shafer Ranch Rd., Willits, CA 95490, USA, for a free catalog with these publications and a wide range of organic, open-pollinated seeds, gardening tools, supplies and many publications of interest to the organic gardener.