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Small farms don’t produce most the of the worlds food – but they could produce all

Small farms don’t produce most the of the worlds food – but they could produce all

Recently, I wrote an article about how difficult it is to survive as a commercial smallholder and floated some ideas of why that is and what can be done about it. I want to follow up with two articles. This one is about the production capacity of small farms and the next one will be on labor productivity and its implications for the space of consumption for small holder farmers and its capacity to generate surplus labor for other societal purposes. 
I often see the claim that peasants/small farms/small holders/family farms produce seventy percent of all the food in the world. The 70 figure originates from a report by the ETC Groups in 2009, Who Will Feed Us? Questions for the Food and Climate Crises. The original has been revised and the current version from 2017 states that the ”ETC Group estimates about 70% of the population – 4.5–5.5 billion of the world’s 7.5 billion people – depend on the Peasant Food Web for most or all of their food”. 

While I am a small farmer myself and very sympathetic to the future of small farms in a similar way as the ETC group, I think it is important to have the facts straight. To begin with, the poorest 70% consume a lot less than 70% of the food in the world, as people in the richer countries, who mainly depend on the industrial food chain consume a lot more food per capita.  Notably, the ETC report says that 70% of the population depend on the peasant food web for most or all of their food. This is not at all the same as  that peasants produce 70% of the food as ”to depend on” doesn’t mean that all their foods come from this food web.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Talkin’ bout a revolution: a response to the Breakthrough Institute

Talkin’ bout a revolution: a response to the Breakthrough Institute

The Breakthrough Institute have published a response to my critical commentary on a recent post of theirs. Here I continue the debate, because I think it might clarify some worthwhile issues. I’d like to thank Dan Blaustein-Rejto and Kenton De Kirby (henceforth B&D) for engaging constructively with me – a welcome improvement on what’s come my way from some previous Breakthrough folk.

Broadly, the issue between us is our different visions of agrarian, and therefore human, futures. I stress more people working on more small farms and a degree of deurbanisation, they stress increases in farm scale, a continued agrarian-urban transition out of agriculture and an emphasis on yield increase. On some points, I’d suggest our differences are not as great as B&D suppose: for example, I’m not necessarily for small farms and against yield increases or the use of synthetic fertiliser in all eventualities. But we’ll come to that.

I’m going to structure my response under three headings: change, ‘development’ and wealth.

Change

B&D suggest that my vision involves revolutionary change that would have to reverse robust global trends, and therefore isn’t feasible. My first response to that is to ask what makes a trend ‘robust’ and irreversible. Suppose, for example, that global trade rulings force countries with large populations of poor farmers to open their markets to rich-country agricultural commodities and to abandon food price controls and social welfare provision. We’d surely expect life to get tougher for the poor farmers and for them to seek other sources of income in place of or in addition to their dwindling farm income. Well, that’s pretty much what’s happened over recent decades. You could say that it’s a ‘robust trend’. But it’s a robust trend that’s resulted from policy decisions – and other policy decisions are possible.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Beautiful 1-Acre Small-Scale Permaculture Farm

Beautiful 1-Acre Small-Scale Permaculture Farm

A tour of Limestone Permaculture Farm in New South Wales, Australia. The 1 acre property has been developed into a productive permaculture farm that is currently helping to feed around 50 families. The tour includes a look at the orchard, caravan farm gate, chicken and duck areas, and the shade house.

Limestone Permaculture Farm is a highly productive small acre property, designed & operated on permaculture principles & located in the beautiful Stroud Valley NSW.

Here you can undertake workshops & courses on a farm that exhibits practical examples of most permaculture techniques, along with chemical free market gardening, farmgate sales, passive building systems, health, happiness & much more..!

Our Farm... The Early Days 2010 / 2011
Our Farm…
The Early Days
2010 / 2011
Our Farm... 2014 / 2015
Our Farm…
2014 / 2015

They have just entered their sixth year on our wonderful property showcasing what is possible in a short time frame whilst working fulltime.

Brett is running a Introduction to Permaculture course on his site. For bookings and details please click here.

For more information about the work Brett and Nici are doing please visit:

Limestone Permaculture Farm

On Facebook,

Limestone Permaculture

Two Men and a Pumpkin Farmgate (name is based on two small acre farms supplying the farmgate)

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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