Saturday, November 30, 2013

Investing in Agriculture for the Long Term: Finding Hope in a Hungry World via Permacuture Design

Stefan Sobkowiak has been designing a permaculture orchard at Miracle Farms in Quebec:

How different is Stefan's orchard from conventional monoculture?
There is an explosion of biodiversity. In the 5 acre orchard, soon to be extended to 12 acres, there are over 100 cultivars of apples, plus several types of plums, pears, cherries, and countless other fruits and vegetables. Pests and diseases, which are typically host specific, are limited in their ability to spread. Natural predators of the pests are flourishing because of the welcoming habitat. There is no need to use expensive and toxic chemicals. The trees are partnered with plants that are nitrogen fixers and nutrient accumulators. There is no need to fertilize. Productivity and quality increase as costs decrease. A miracle indeed!

A documentary film based on Stefan's work, The Permaculture Orchard : Beyond Organic, about this type of farming is on the way. Let's be sure to catch the release of this film next Spring.

The paraphrasing of Howard Buffett's new book, Forty Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World, is intentional. Howard, sadly, is a fan of big machinery, fossil fuel inputs, irrigation, Monsanto, and monoculture.
Perhaps there is a glimmer of hope for enlightenment in Howard's references to "biologically-based nutrient management, and use of legume-based cover crops".

In any case, the most convincing way to promote sustainable regenerative agricultural design is to demonstrate it in real orchards, farms, and gardens the way Stefan is doing! We can participate in a small way by dropping off our food waste for composting to improve our soil. Have you taken a composting class yet?

Stefan Sobkowiak