Why Industrial Farming is a Dubious Path

Starting more than a century ago, the early industrial complexes felt that farmers were a good set of potential customers. So they sold them whatever they could and, like efficient drug dealers, they tried to get them well-hooked & dependent. Machinery was useful on farms. Chemicals and chemical fertilizers appeared, in the short term, to be similar. However, over time, it has appeared that the costs of farming rise in tandem with the revenue but always just a little bit faster. In 1897 the price of a bushel of wheat hit $1.00. Recently, it has been as high as $8.00 but when you translate that 1897 or current figure into how many bushels it takes to buy a small house or a bottle of wine you see that the price has actually fallen very consistently.

For example, even from 1975 to 2009, in constant 2009 US dollars, a bushel of US wheat fell from $14 to $5. In 1897, 20 bushels of wheat would buy you an ounce of gold. Today it would take about 200 bushels.

Historically, one can see that many governments assisted the large corporations through their agricultural policies. Ostensibly designed to support farmers, these policies in fact functioned to support the manufacturers of farm inputs. As one obvious result, the number of family farms decreased while the growth of large, corporate farms kept on expanding. Feed lots with thousands, or tens of thousands of animals became the norm.

As Blume points out below, it is a myth that we can’t feed the population we have now.

 “We currently produce more than twice the amount of food we need to feed everyone, even with the extremely inefficient model of monoculture. What starving people lack is money to buy food which is not considered a right but a commodity.”

There are large forces at work promoting this undustrial model of agriculture as “the only way to feed the world” and adding in the latest corporate ingenuity: patentable genetic modifications of our basic foodstuffs.

However, both the economics and the politics corporational farming are very dubious and always slanted towards a defense of the staus quo.

David Blume ran a very efficient 2 acre farm until 2001 when he lost his lease and moved on to moreneducational and activist kinds of tasks. In this piece, he makes a persuasive case for considering a more integrated approach to food production, one that ignores or denies most of the myths presented by Dow, Monsanto, Cargill etc

Food and Permaculture

by David Blume. See:  http://www.permaculture.com/book_menu/136/137

This blog is in Whale, at: http://www.whale.to/a/blume.html

I wrote this in response to post to the bioregional listserve from a woman at ATTRA who said something like “Of course you couldn’t feed the world with such a hippy-dippy, hunter-gatherer, landscape system like permaculture.” Well that got me a little steamed so this is what I wrote.

Dear Folks,

I would like to inject some real world experience into this otherwise abstract discussion of food and permaculture.

In addition to being an ecological biologist, a permaculture production food farmer for 9 years, and an expert on biomass fuels, I have also been teaching permaculture since 1997 and have worked in many countries on food/energy production design issues. I have certified more than 400 people in permaculture design since 1997. For more info on this see my site at http://www.permaculture.com

So in light of my experience I have a couple of things to say. Let us dispense, for the moment only, with the talk of hunter-gatherer models since, to return to that state or to imitate it with design would meet limited acceptance. This is not the core design goal of permaculture although some of our small scale subsistence agriculture designs vaguely look like a hunter-gatherer paradise (i.e. it never existed like this in nature.) The issue of private property as we now define it also complicates that model. We are living in an agricultural age and permaculture offers huge benefits to both production and subsistence agriculture.

As far as I know I was one of the only farmers fully utilizing permaculture to produce surplus food for sale in the US as a full time occupation. On approximately two acres— half of which was on a terraced 35 degree slope—I produced enough food to feed more than 300 people (with a peak of 450 people at one point), 49 weeks a year in my fully organic CSA on the edge of Silicon Valley . If I could do it there you can do it anywhere.

I did this for almost nine years until I lost the lease to my rented land. My yields were often 8 times what the USDA claims are possible per square foot. My soil fertility increased dramatically each year so I was not achieving my yields by mining my soil. On the contrary I built my soil from cement-hard adobe clay to its impressive state from scratch. By the end I was at over 22% organic matter with a cation exchange capacity (CEC) of over 25. CEC is an indirect measure of soil humus or the ability of the soil to hold nutrients available to crops. The higher the number the more nutrients are stored and available. For reference, most Class I commercial agricultural soil is lucky to hit 2% organic matter—the dividing line between a living and dead soil—with a CEC around 5.

At most times I had no more than half of my land under production with the rest in various stages of cover cropping. And I was only producing at a fraction of what would have been possible if I had owned the land and could have justified the investment into an overstory of integrated tree, berry, flower and nut crops along with the various vegetable and fruit crops. The farm produced so much income that I was routinely in the top 15% of organic farms in California (which has over 2000 organic farms) in most years on a fraction of the land that my colleagues were using. I grew over 45 different kinds of crops so my financial success cannot be attributed to growing a few high value crops like Yuppie Chow (salad mix).

Unlike other organic farmers, I almost never used even organic pesticides on my farm. The permaculture ecosystem I designed was so self-managing and self-maintaining with natural controls such as carnivorous insects, toads, lizards, snakes, owls, bats, and other allies, that it was rare that I needed to intervene (I can count the times on one hand that I intervened over 9 years). On the few occasions I did, I used coffee solution made from waste caf é coffee. You didn’t think plants made caffeine to get you high did you? Caffeine is an extremely effective natural insecticide, which degrades in the sunlight or air in about 24 hours after use.

On the subsistence agriculture level, we permies regularly have designed productions systems around the world, which feed everyone living in a given house within a 50-foot radius of the house. This rule of thumb holds pretty well because the more folks who live there, the bigger the house, the larger the surface area, so no more than 50 feet is really necessary.

The math is easy. With a polyculture, yields of 3-10 pounds of food per square foot are easy to come up with in most climates. For comparison, commercial agriculture in California , which is way inefficient, routinely runs about 1.5-2.5 pounds per square foot per year across a wide variety of crops. People need to eat about two pounds of mixed food a day if active, or around 750 pounds a year. In a good but somewhat sloppy design, you need about 500 square feet per person MAXIMUM. In a very good design, 200 square feet will do the job. If your diet is heavy on grain you’ll need more space but not an astronomical amount. Utilize a greenhouse to extend seasons and exchange air rich in carbon dioxide from chicken houses or human houses, which otherwise would go to waste, and yields ratchet up even more. Take a little more space and include ducks and aquaculture into the mix and the yields become quite diverse and substantial. This sort of system is typical in Vietnam now and there is no longer any measurable hunger there. Wouldn’t it be nice if the US could do that with its “superior” first world agricultural system?

Can’t do this on a commercial scale? Tell that to Archer Daniels Midland who operates many acres of greenhouses in Decatur using partially integrated production of fish, lettuce and other vegetables using waste carbon dioxide, grain by-products and other by-products from its 100-million gallon per year alcohol fuel production facility, while delivering these profitable agricultural products in trucks running on biodiesel (made from the corn and soybeans they process). This qualifies as commercial scale, very rudimentary permaculture that is wildly profitable and productive.

As a reality check, I’d like to remind everyone that in the 1850’s, prior to refrigerated transport, New York City supplied all its food for a population of over a million from within 7 miles of the borders of the city. (It wasn’t worth the cost of horse feed and time to go further than 7 miles to export food into the city). No one would discount a system of community food security for one million people as non-commercial.

There are two main reasons known for the dramatically increased productivity of a polyculture: the benefit of mycorhyzzal symbiosis (which is destroyed in chemical agriculture) and less solar saturation. Solar saturation is the point at which a plants’ photosynthetic machinery is overwhelmed by excess sunlight and shut down. In practice, this means that most of our crop plants stop growing at about 10am and don’t start again until about 4 in the afternoon.

Various members of a polyculture shade each other, preventing solar saturation, so plants metabolize all day. Polyculture as we pursue in permaculture uses close to 100% of the sunlight falling on its mixed crops. Monoculture rarely can use more than 30% of the total sunlight received before saturation. How long could you run any business without external support at 30% efficiency?

When you look at a simple Mexican permaculture example, growth of the three sisters of corn, beans and squash (not even counting the 200 vegetables of various sorts growing in the shade of the sisters) you get close to 90% solar efficiency. When you total up the pounds of food from a Mexican acre you get FAR MORE FOOD than the highest yielding nitrogen soaked Iowa cornfield. This is the myth of the green revolution; that the highest total food yields occur in chemical monoculture.

Enough of this. The argument that we don’t have enough food to go around is specious anyway. We currently produce more than twice the amount of food we need to feed everyone, even with the extremely inefficient model of monoculture. What starving people lack is money to buy food which is not considered a right but a commodity. Even being able to buy the food isn’t a guarantee of access. Midwesterners find it cheaper to burn 5 cent a pound corn in stoves for heat even though Mexican families are willing to pay up to $1 a pound for corn to feed their family.

So you say, “Well if you’re such a wiseguy and you obviously would make so much more money from the greater yields of a simple three crop permaculture system, why don’t corporations in the Midwest do it to make more money?” This gets to the core of the problemw—hich is not population/resources and/or biological models of overpopulation which typically apply to wild animals.

Capitalism is concerned with more than just making money. The reason why monocultures are favored by corporations EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE THE LEAST EFFICIENT WAY OF PRODUCING FOOD in pounds of food per acre is that it can be done with the least amount of labor. To harvest the three sisters you would need a digital harvester—i.e. two hands—not a combine. Even though the increased labor would be totally justified by the increased profit, corporations are totally allergic to dealing with labor. Labor is messy. It organizes, it wants a fair share of the profit, cities want tax money to pay for worker habitat infrastructure and other pesky things that corporations will avoid at all costs. Our current form of agribusiness is a textbook case of design maximizing the advantage of capital to the disadvantage of labor facilitated by the artificially low cost of energy.

The other reason is control of the market. It is now estimated that 80 percent of the world’s arable (read European-style plowed) agricultural land is now in the hands of multi-nationals. It has served their needs to keep productivity low to make it possible to get a hold of as much of the means of production as possible. Farmers who are barely making a living sell their land for a fraction of those making a good profit. Midwest corn farmers generally net only about $50-75 per acre on corn on a gross income of $300 per acre.

My discussion above is not to be taken as a suggestion that population growth is not a problem, it is. So let me make a quick comment on population, from a designer’s point of view, which is totally related to the structural issues above. I dare anyone to find an example in which population is stable yet there is no system for security in old age. It has been shown in countless studies that the ONLY consistent reason why population stabilizes is that people know they will have security in their old age. At that point they stop having excess children. Why? It has absolutely nothing to do with the biological resource-population relationships. We are not wild animals and have markedly different behavior. In a developing country, or any country for that matter, without a secure social security system for the aged, you need at least two kids to support each elderly adult. In virtually every case studied where stabilization of social systems occurred, women immediately find systems to end unwanted pregnancy. Herbal indigenous methods for ending fertility are known all over the world. In my own Italian heritage—hardly a herb-oriented aboriginal tribe, even into the 1900’s, utilized ergot obtained from the local apothecary to end unwanted pregnancy.

So structural adjustment—the neoliberal formula the World Bank and IMF impose on the developing world—ensures population growth. By intentionally eliminating a secure social safety net as a condition of borrowing money, population growth—and therefore market growth for various consumer goods—continues to grow. Therein lies the rub. If population doesn’t continue to grow, capitalists rapidly run out of customers. Can’t let that happen now can we?

Permaculture design offers an alternative security for old age when the family has even a little land. In the Deccan desert of India , where there is huge success with permaculture turning hundreds of square miles of man-made desert back into productive designed rain forest, there is a saying: “Trees are better than sons.” Sons might take care of you in your old age but income or trade from your productive trees (food, timber and fuel) definitely will. This approach offers families security to limit population growth and takes the supply of old age security back into the people’s hands.

Restorative agriculture?\which goes far beyond sustainable agriculture—depends on solar energy replacing fossil fuel use. Buckminster Fuller and I discussed this back in 1983 when he wrote the foreword for my book Alcohol Can Be A Gas!, that accompanied my ten part PBS television series at that time. (Alcohol is a virtually pollution free engine fuel which is superior in almost every way to gasoline.) World photosynthesis in its fully undesigned state, produces biomass in wasteful agriculture and in the wild which far exceeds human need. Our analysis shows that world biomass photosynthesis produces between 6 and 15 times what we used to power every human need every year, including food, electricity, transportation, and heat.

In a designed system, especially a permaculturally-designed system, we could increase the biomass produced by an order of magnitude and in so doing supply all our needs in a much smaller footprint. For instance, you only get about 200 gallons per acre of alcohol fuel from corn, but 1000 gallons from sugar beets, 1200 from Jerusalem Artichokes, 1500 gallons from annual sugar cane in southern states and a variety of other crops which, when properly designed for climate, might yield 2500 gallons per year from two crop cycles. This would be done while increasing soil fertility and providing all the animal food we need as a by-product (replacing the corn which largely goes for animal feed now) at a fraction of the energy cost of corn-soybean agribusiness. This is all possible right now without any new technology.

The Department of Energy-sponsored program to reduce the cost of cellulose-dissolving enzymes. Soon, yields based on that carbohydrate (cellulose) rather than the relatively scarce starch or sugar carbohydrate scenarios described above will ratchet up cost-effective yield another order of magnitude. (We could do it right now with current technology but the fuel would be about $1.65/gallon wholesale). Once again this is just scratching the surface.

I could go on for two weeks non-stop about this?\my colleagues and I do so in my permaculture design courses. The point is that although humans are great at creating deserts and poverty, we also have the incredible capacity to design ecological systems that work for everyone—even some corporations. The argument that we can’t produce enough ecologically is, at its source, promoted by corporations who benefit from a view of scarcity and limited resources which they control. Their constant cry is TINA “There Is No Alternative”. Right, and the wizard says, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”

Around the world people are demonstrating that, not only are there alternatives, there are alternatives that allow us all to take care of each other and the rest of the species we live with, and to direct surpluses from our designs back to this care. These are the three main tenets of Permaculture design. We aren’t waiting for governments, corporations, or bureaucracies to solve the world’s problems. We will do it with or without their help. We are already doing it and no one can stop us because we can’t be forced to buy what we don’t need anymore. Since few of us in permaculture education are hired by anyone in business or government, we can’t be fired or threatened.

I like to say, if you want to end transnational capitalism, (the very opposite of bioregionalism), then stop giving them your capital. To do that you need to start producing what you need—plus some surplus for others—bioregionally and I would respectfully suggest that permaculture design is a good tool to begin that process.

Barça Nights

We arrived in Barcelona on Friday, the 19th of May, after about 22 hours in the air and airports. We took a tour of the old quarter, had lunch, a brief nap and then met the gang outside in the square to plan the evening. The olive trees were green.

They decided we should go to Orio–not for cookies!

Inside, we soon settled in:

Drank good wine, munched on the tapas and renewed old times.

What a selection. They even prepared special tapas selections for Ellen that were gluten-free.

April in Barcelona. Watch out Paris.

Tomorrow, on to Gaudi & Girona.

Dennis Klocek

The Moon Calendar

The Moon Calendar

Alderlea Farm organized a public lecture by Dennis in early May. It was well attended and definitely worth the $125. All ideas are best when shaken up with regularity. Dennis spoke at length without notes and was very informative about a wide range of ideas. The only question which gave him thought was the notion that earthworms are invasive in North America. In fact, that appears to be true and not true. About 60 percent of earthworm varieties here are native and the rest are imports–according to the Wick.

You can buy packets of wisdom from the Klocek site www.dennisklocek.com  or one of his many books; here’s a sampler. Bear in mind the relationship of the body to the constellations.

Glyphs of the Zodiac

The constellations of the zodiac are traditionally rendered in pictographs called glyphs. In the ancient world the glyphs were carved into stone and the priests would run their fingers along the groove to enter into a trance state. In the trance they could tell the future and were able to tell the peasants when to plant and when to take the bull out to breed with the cows. In this way the priests could enter into the energetic dynamics of nature for the purpose of reading the signs in the heavens and how they were to play out on the earth.

Reading glyphs in this way is somewhat of a lost art today but it is possible to look at the glyphs with an eye towards their energetic signature. Seen from this perspective, glyphs of the constellations can give us pictures of the energies flowing in our gardens throughout what we could call the dynamic year. The dynamic year begins with what was known to the ancient Chinese as the setting of spring.

Aquarius

In western astrology the setting of spring would be when the sun is in the constellation of Aquarius, the water bearer. The glyph of Aquarius (February 16 – March 10) is composed of two horizontal wavy lines one set above the other below.

In this glyph we can see that heaven and earth are separated. We can imagine the wind above the water. This dynamic is the essence of the time of the year when the water resting within the earth during the winter suddenly is activated by the return of the light and warmth. Above and below flow in a distinct cadence with each other, they are linked and yet they are separate. The setting of spring tells of a time when the awakening, rising forces of nature are in dynamic accord but not yet fully formed.

Pisces

The glyph for Pisces (March 11 – April 17) the next constellation of the zodiac, is a picture of a segment of three circles.

We see two circles placed horizontally and one above them placed so that they interact. This above and below motif is an echo of the glyph for Aquarius. The movement between Aquarius and Pisces can be pictured in the lines of Aquarius now becoming circles. This is a movement towards form. The forces of life are now rising of of the earth and coming into form. In Pisces we can think of the three elements active in the agricultural ritual of planting. The heavens above joined to the earth and the human being below. However, the circles are not complete but only segments. The forming has just begun but there is great potential.

Aries

In the glyph for Aries (April 18 – May 12) we see that one of the circles has gone up into the space above the other two and that the two lower parts have joined together on their outside surfaces.

This is a time in the dynamic year when the spring grasses and the new shoots of the greenwood on the trees are in full growth shooting out into space seeking the sun. The human is connected to the earth, digging, weeding, planting and tending to the endless gardening tasks of spring. The glyph shows the human and the earth wedded. This is the ancient image of the husbandman or steward of the land. The cosmic forces of growth have left the surface of the earth where the humans are toiling and they are hovering up in the realm of potential as the seeding processes begin to unfold in the winter grains now a few feet above the ground. The same picture is found in the fruits which have been fertilized earlier in spring and are now beginning to swell high up in the branches of the trees. Many annuals now begin the process of flowering while the early spring flowering plants are setting fruit. The bound feeling of Pisces has given way to a euphoric soaring of the forces of lushness and growth present in Aries.

Taurus

In Taurus (May 13 – June 20) the growing processes which wereunfolding in Aries have now reached fruition. Even the annual plants which were flowering profusely start to slow down. The rush of spring is now over and a mellow feeling of completion comes into nature. What was only potential in Aquarius has come step by step into manifestation.

The Taurus glyph is a circle with a part of a circle on top of it to form the head of a bull. The upper circle which moved aloft in Aries has returned to sit on the two lower ones which have passed through each other and joined to form a complete circle. That which was separated and developing on its own has once more come together in a brief instant of harmony. All of the earlier processes where the forces of growth were leaving the surface of the earth are now brought into one place for refinement. Heaven and earth are once again in contact as spring is about to give way to summer.

Gemini

In Gemini (June 21 – July 19) the rush to growth and the ardent will to escape the earth has been tempered. The upper circle in Taurus has once again become separated from the lower circle. The two are joined by two lines of light from the overhead sun streaming down to the earth from the cosmos. Heaven is above and the earth below with humanity in between.

The mood of Taurus, when all things came together into a synthesis, is once again opened up to mystery in Gemini. In nature the growth of early spring has dropped down to a condition almost like midwinter. The growth processes and fruiting suddenly ceases and a strangely inert hesitation seems to arise. It is no longer possible to increase growth now suddenly there is a standstill as the summer solstice brings once again the staying of the sun, this time in the northernmost position. The glyph depicts the time in the dynamic year when the turning of the season brings the ripening and decay processes to the fore.

Cancer

Cancer (July 20 – August 9) is the time of the beginning of the harvest. The fruits are released from the earth and taken away. The rapid growth of the seedlings is now given over to steady, slower paced maturation. In the glyph of Cancer we can see that one circle and one line from Gemini have separated from the other circle and line from Gemini. The two are still united in the shape of a larger circle but now the unity has opened up to a new space. Now something which has not happened before can take place. The heavens once more must leap a gap in order to be linked with the earth. The space in between makes way for the new phase which cannot be predicted by what has developed out of the old way. We don’t know if the seed which lies within the ovary of the plant which is now ripening in the fruit will come true to type or something completely new will emerge from the seedling next spring. The inevitability of the rush of spring growth now has an air of mystery and freedom from inevitability. The die has been cast and now all we can do is wait and wonder about the magical place between the two forms and what happened there when we were too busy with chores to notice.

Leo

Leo (August 10 – September 15) is the time of the quickening of the new. We can see in the glyph that one of the sides of Cancer has burst free and the line has developed into a reflex curve of its own. For the first time in the dynamic year the reflex or compound curve is seen. A reflex curve has been there and back we could say that it knows both sides of the coin. The reflex curve becomes a motif for many of the glyphs on the descending side of the zodiac where the sun is moving to the south. There is a kind of swagger that the Leo glyph brings. It juts out its chest at us and from the tiny beginning circle there is a swelling reflex curve stretching into unforeseen dimensions. Up, down, right and left circles and parabolas. All of the possibilities are there. But, we could ask, “Just where is there?”

Virgo

While Leo is like the call sung by the soloist, Virgo (September 16 – October 29) is the response sung back from the congregation. Come down to earth again high flying Leo, the complex and integrated glyph seems to be saying. Sit with us a spell and maybe tone yourself down a bit and we can multiply and incubate your energies into a new mystery. If we repeat the Leo glyph so that there are two and take the two circles and put them together on the end this repetition gives us the mystery “M” and the infinite figure eight of the lemniscate as a mood of the threshold going into winter. In the virgin all things are possible. All differences are brought together. Heaven is once again brought into the confines of the earth and nurtured there as the ripening processes of the fruit sugars are enhanced in the warm and active time around the fall equinox. There is what gardeners call “second spring” at this time. Some spring flowers like forsythia often bloom again for a short time in more moderate climates. Ripening takes the place of growth. Mystery dominates more than revelation as nature once again goes inside of herself and life returns to the womb of the great mother.

Libra

Like the climax of a Shakespeare play, Libra (October 30 – November 22)comes into the dynamic year speaking of harmony and future relationships. The glyph is composed of two lines horizontally oriented and parallel to each other, an echo of Aquarius. The circle motif is once again employed but this time the image is of a setting sun. The heavens are sinking below the earth the sun is running to the south. The insects are going under the bark and into the ground. The salmon are returning back into the small streams of their birth. The sandhill cranes are moving south. The leaves are falling to the ground. The gardener is spending more time around the hearth.

Scorpio

Just as we were basking in reverie, with a sudden flourish, Scorpio (November 23 – December 16) pulls out the proverbial dagger from the cloak of our dreams. The glyph calls to us to wake up again to the rotting and decay of all the things we left undone. Wake up to the sting of the first winter storm! Have you forgotten the feel of the teeth of the winter wind on your cheek? The glyph evokes once again the mystery “M” of Virgo but this is certainly the crone side of the virgin. The stinger on the tail of the “M” is an image of the necessary destruction of what started out so promising in the spring. Without the sting of death and decay there would be no promise of the future. Truly, the Scorpio glyph signifies perhaps the greatest mystery, but it is a mystery on the dark side of the zodiac.

Sagittarius

As the year enters the darkest days the glyph of Sagittarius (17 December – 17 January) shows us the mood of nature during the winter solstice. The arrow of the Scorpion is now free from the mystery “M”. The mystery has been revealed and we can see that death is another sleeping with great potential for renewal. However there is no renewal in sight. The arrow points to what has already been revealed. Then there is a crossbar. This separates the arrow from the post on the other end. Death has been revealed and the sun is now in the earth and as yet there is no stirring. This is not an arrow flying through the air. This is an arrow which is a warning to not press too much and let things unfold in their own time. The sting of the glyph is a warning not an aggressive action. Wait and all will be revealed to you! Work and pray.

Capricorn

Coming out of the solstice time the glyph of Capricorn (18 January – 15 February) is an image of what is known as the sea goat. This is a mythological creature with the head of a goat and the tail of a fish. The goat in the ancient world was an animal with dark associations but it also was an animal with strong will and capacity to live easily in high and dangerous places. The sea goat has the head of the goat and the tail of a fish. The fish tail is an image of a mood of soddenness and depression. It points to a split between what is hidden below, contained in the loop of the tail and what is forward looking in the perky rams head. In nature this conflict is felt in the slow return of the light of the sun which has not yet manifest except for the slight shortening of the day. Nature is all potential and no motion. It is contained in the loop. And yet even in this most inward state the sea goat has an eye on future developments.

The whole year

The dynamic year is composed of growth energies moving from within the earth out into plants and animals and even beyond into the starry realms in the spring and summer and then returning again back through nature into the earth for the winter. In winter the growth forces are deep within the earth. In summer the earth breathes forces out again into plants and animals and back to the stars. The above and below motif is an energetic template for reading most of the zodiacal glyphs in the context of gaining insight into earth energies.

IMAGE OFZODIAC & HUMAN

Girona the Beautiful

]
Girona by Day Dave Godfrey April, 2012

As Europe struggles with its soul (not just its economy) what a pleasure to twice visit Girona, a city where the citizens seem to understand life and globalization seems to be a minor infection–one not likely to be tolerated long.

What could say it more but an image or two.


Nuria, Ellen, Cristina, young beauty of Girona

Les mouches de Girona

Apparently: the flies, human or chocolate, can be explained by Catalan myth: St Narcissus, one of Gerona’s patron saints, is buried in the city’s Romanesque cathedral. Legend has it that when the neighbouring French invaded (the Spanish know Gerona as the ‘city of 1,000 sieges’) they tore open Narcissus’ tomb, whereupon a swarm of flies drove the marauders from Gerona.

the queen ascends[/caption

General review of Girona:
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/travel/2011961502_trspain30.html

Soulsby Farm

Let Them Eat Nutella

The return of the homestead farmer is something we should all welcome and encourage. In North America and Europe at least, we can grow farm more food than we can consume; and, exports (from large systems of subsidized producers) distort prices in much of the world–dumping surplus at far less than real cost in areas where the local farmers cannot compete. When you see jumbo jars of Nutella in a store, in Accra or Chemainus, you know THE SYSTEM has been there.

The homstead farm in North America was traditionally 100 or 160 acres: a huge amount of land in places like Scotland and Ireland where an inheritance might be counted up in furrows.

But now many homestead farms are smaller;  conceptually, they can be as small as an acre or two, which is more than enough to provide nourishment for a family of four or five, plus some surplus. And the farmers often have a secondary job and why not.

One of my many favourites is Soulsby Farm in Hudson, Ohio. One of the typical things new homesteaders do is buy a few chicks and start raising eggs. This almost immediately connects you with what remains of the wild world: mink, eagles, wolves, bears & coyotes as a minimum. Try this except from the Soulbsy blog and I`m sure you`ll want to sample more.

Protecting your Chickens from Coyotes

April 8, 2012 by Soulsby Farm – A Very Small Farm

We had a tragedy at the farm the other night; we lost some chickens to what appears to be a coyote or two. Coyotes are part of the natural circle of life and because we as humans basically eradicated their natural enemy the wolf, we’re forced to deal with these predators. Wolves don’t tolerate coyotes. When the wolves are depleted or hunted to near extinction, the more adaptable coyote moves into the niche.

MORE: http://soulsbyfarm.wordpress.com/2012/04/08/protecting-your-chickens-from-coyotes/