by Tom Dennen
“Whether they are known as home, mixed, backyard, kitchen, farmyard, compound or homestead gardens, family food production systems are found in most regions of most countries worldwide. They may be the oldest production system known and their very persistence is proof of their intrinsic economic and nutritional merit” - Robin Marsh
HOW THEY SEE US!
As we all “know”, the financial world is approaching an end-point, but the world’s roads and bridges, sewage systems, transport systems and the rest really are failing because no money has been spent on them, and the 99%-ers become more and more vulnerable.
Commonly perceived consequences of the west’s economic ‘adjustment’ now under way include ‘extreme events’ that are not earthquakes nor savage rainstorms, but massive interruptions of infrastructure functions including food distribution (strikes and so on) that maintain the world’s economies, which we take completely for granted, especially food.
On 31 July, British Newspaper The Guardian reported “700 million Indian people had no power”.
“Thousands of train passengers have been stranded” Link to video
“More than 700 million people in India have been left without power in the world’s worst blackout of recent times, leading to fears that protests and even riots could follow if the country’s electricity supply continues to fail to meet growing demand.”
Power was restored within two days.
“Tuesday, August 16 Northern India’s electrical grid went down again.
“Six hundred million people this time, half of the country’s population of 1.5 bn, were without electricity. Fortunately, power was restored by the next day. If the outage had gone into a third day, without electricity to pump gas, food delivery trucks would also have been down and supermarkets would soon have been out of food.”
For this very reason, in anticipation of catastrophes like India’s, millions of people, Individuals and small communities all over the world for the last decade or so have been responding to the idea that supermarkets can run out of food.
I won’t go into Katrina and New Orleans here, but it should from now on be in our history books.
They have turned to Permaculture, Earth ship construction, generally ‘gettng off the grid’ – one way or another becoming, Preppers or Permies, whatever they are called, they’re doing the right thing.
Permaculture comes from the combination of permanent agriculture and permanent culture. Permaculture is actually an approach in designing human settlements and perennial agri systems that copies relationships found in natural ecologies. It is a design system for sustainable living and in all aspect of human endeavour. It is a unique green career that leads into what is emerging today as Ecovillages and Ecocities, a return to the ancient Commons and the even more ancient Garden of Eden.
The Chinese are Permaculture masters
AND YOU THOUGHT IT WAS ALL RICE!
WHAT IS PERMACULTURE?
Permaculture is inter-disciplinary, knows no language or religious differences except in how the Master Chef prepares the food!
It means “Food Sovereignty”… the right of all peoples, communities, and countries to define their own agricultural, labour, fishing, food and land policies which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate to their unique circumstances. It includes the true right to food and to produce food, which means that all people have the right to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food and to food-producing resources and the ability to sustain themselves and their societies.
We do not have that.
Almost every western country is vulnerable to the greed and corruption that have left our electricty supply systems worn out, our roads, bridges and all other public infrastructure failing for lack of simple maintenance while the final “Grand Theft’ of the planet’s valuable land resources goes on.
But when the people control the keys to the granary, they discover a new kind of freedom. They also discover the “Economic Dimension of Eco Villages. As local groups and communities create their own local scrip currencies and exchange systems, yes, just like the first Amerian Colonists, they learn about economists’ deepest secret: money and information are equivalent – and neither is scarce – Hazel Henderson
ARE ANY WHOLE COMMUNITIES DOING IT?
When the small British mill town of Todmorden, tucked in between Yorkshire and Lancashire, first began installing fruit and vegetable gardens all around the area as part of the Incredible Edible program, it likely had no idea that the novel, yet simple, concept would make the town a foremost inspirational and self-sustaining model of the future.
ANYONE ELSE, LIKE FOR CENTURIES?
51% of Russian agricultural output is home grown – on 7% of the land! When Russia’s consumer-capitalist economy collapsed, she survived without general starvation (like America in the 30′s) even in the severe depression that followed.
“Poverty” is rare in Russia if you define Food Security as not being poor.
SO WHAT IS POVERTY, REALLY?
In the Capitalist world, poverty is the result of an embedded disconnect between mainstream society and those who become ‘unnecessary’ for sustaining its capital growth; people who become the ‘unemployable’, the discarded, those who become ‘the poor’ by conscious, deliberate definition.
The United Nations defines poverty as a denial of choices and opportunities, even a violation of human dignity. The fact that it’s deliberately part of the system is what makes it inhuman.
So “Poverty” means a deliberate denial of the basic capacity to participate effectively in general society, leavng self-sustainablilty the only alternative,
Possibly these are the very people most suitable for survival.
But I am not talking about ‘the poor’.
“Food security, rather, is a concept that has evolved in the States during the 1990’s far beyond the traditional focus on the supply of food at the national level” (USAID 1995). The definition adopted by the countries attending the World Food summit of 1996 and reconfirmed in 2002 accepts USAID’s three key concepts:
i. food availability for all levels of society, every day
ii. food access and
iii. food utilization.
However a fourth concept is increasingly becoming a major concern; namely,
risks that can disrupt any one of the first three factors (India last month).
Below is a graph of the Baltic Dry Index of total global raw material shipping to manufacturers – not how many ships are available - over the last ten years.
Recovery since the 2008 crash has been only two thirds and the current drop from end December 2012 has only reached 55% below last year, indicating another large economic downturn in the VERY near term – you can see, we are at the same level as 2008 now and the last lead time looks like about eight months. Do the math.
2008 low point Today’s low point
HOW TO BE POOR – AND “RICHER THAN ALL HIS TRIBE”
The self-sufficiency aspect of Community gardens would take the ‘jobless’ stigma away, even make it disappear if the status of creating one’s own food supply became higher than a mere ‘job’ in a workplace where only an insulting fraction of the wealth created there is taken home by the worker – see the South African South African Marikana Mine Massacre
People do not need ‘a job’ if they can feed themselves – farmers don’t have ‘jobs’ – and I’d much rather be seen as a farmer than as a jobless bum, hey?
With few exceptions, the concept of sustainable home gardening is not supported beyond very expensive, experimental ‘poverty alleviation’ programs and nowhere yet is sustainable food security an issue with the middle classes, “Transition Towns” and Permaculture societies notwithstanding.
With infrastructure collapse, particularly food distribution, the entire society is vulnerable.
Here’re a few tips from Mike, the Health Ranger:
Physical books are good, they don’t need batteries.
Surrround yourself with Garden of Eden tools:
• Family, including pets.
• Dirt (it’s acdtually called soil and it is NOT ‘dirty’).
• Gardening, permaculture, seeds.
• Gold and silver, but a head full of ideas are better.
• Consciousness, free will, awareness.
• The sun. Warmth and light. Energy for life.
• Water. Perhaps the most miraculous substance in the universe.
• Honeybees, insects and pollinators.
• Sea salt. Minerals. Elements for health.
• Love, compassion, forgiveness, humility.
• Firearms, hammers and other purely mechanical tools that don’t need “firmware” to operate.
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