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The emergent agriculture : farming, sustainability and the return of the local economy

Author: Gary Kleppel; John Ikerd; Diane McIntosh
Publisher: Gabriola Island, Bristish Columbia : New Society Publishers, 2014. ©2014
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : EnglishView all editions and formats

Local, diverse and resilient -- the new culture of food


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Genre/Form: Ressources Internet
Additional Physical Format: Version imprimée :
Kleppel, Gary.
Emergent agriculture : farming, sustainability and the return of the local economy.
Gabriola Island, Bristish Columbia : New Society Publishers, ©2014
xxvi, 163 pages
Material Type: Document, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Gary Kleppel; John Ikerd; Diane McIntosh
ISBN: 9781550925777 1550925776
OCLC Number: 988020587
Notes: Includes index.
Description: 1 ressource en ligne (194 pages)
Contents: Annotated Table of ContentsIntroduction -- On the Cusp of a Revolution. The purpose of the short introduction is to orient the reader to the message of the book and to introduce myself and my dual careers as farmer and university professor to the reader. I posit that American agriculture is on the verge of a major change -- an emergence - that will lead from the current industrial model of farming to a more sustainable food production system.I. Farming: The Emerging Paradigm1. A New Approach to Agriculture. My conversation with the reader begins at 3:30 in the morning in early May. I am at the low counter in my kitchen where I write and I'm preparing to start the daily farm chores. I use this chapter to explain my commitment to sustainable agriculture by describing my pasture management practices. I also introduce the Hayes family, longtime farmers, and our mentors, and the Kimballs, young farmers who, are raising the bar on sustainable agriculture with their creative farming and marketing approaches. (These families appear repeatedly in the book as representative of farmers who have embraced principles of sustainable agriculture.) A brief restatement of the central tenet of the book, that American agriculture is in the early stages of a revolutionary change, is used to segue into a discussion of the history of industrial agriculture and its subsequent failure under the control of multinational agribusiness. The chapter ends with an overview of the system that is replacing industrial agriculture.2. The Paradox of Agriculture. Based on a series of lectures to students and lay audiences over the past half-decade, this chapter contrasts the iconic place that agriculture occupies in the minds (and hearts) of Americans with the unsustainable and often inhumane realities of the industrial food production system. 3. Farm Subsidies. The title of this chapter is intentionally deceiving. It begins with a discussion of the farm subsidy system in America, i.e., "the billions of dollars served up to large-scale corn, soy and cotton farmers by Congress and administered by USDA via the Farm Bill, to permit them to sell...products at very low prices ..." I then use the term "farm subsidies," tongue-in-cheek, to describe the benefits, such as clean air and water, recreational values and beautiful landscapes, that farms provide to society free of charge. The point is that farms subsidize us.II. Sustainability4. Toward a Sustainable Agriculture. It will focus on the way the term "sustainability" has been misused and misunderstood. The concept of sustainable agriculture and its value to the future of food production will be explored.5. Sustainable Meat - A Contradiction in Terms? Can meat be produced sustainably? Should we even be eating meat? These questions underscore the essence of what we mean by sustainability. 6. Diversity in Agriculture. This chapter examines some of the many ways that biodiversity is expressed in agriculture, and the complex relationships between farmers, wild nature and domesticated organisms. Ultimately, diversity creates stability - the ability to resist disturbances, such as hurricanes, and the resilience to recover when disturbances occur. The concept of diversity can applied to the business of farming as well as to its ecology. Diversity in the kinds of products produced and in the approaches used to produce them dampens the effects of market fluctuations, and thereby reduces risk. The sustainability of diversified farming versus the industrial monoculture become apparent. 7. Energy and the Future of Farming. The current energy paradigm is illogical at best. Each year the sun provides a thousand times more energy than all non-renewable sources taken together. How can we justify our fossil fuel-based economy, with its severely limited time and production horizons, and it's recognized environmental and health impacts, when the sun offers an overwhelming supply of clean energy forever? The answer is about money not energy. Farmers tied fossil fuels are at the mercy of irrational and unpredictable markets. 8. The New Normal. This chapter was written a few weeks after tropical storm Irene devastated New York's Hudson and Schoharie Valleys. The experiences of friends and neighbors, during and after the storm, are described. The frequency and severity of extreme climatic events is increasing; the question, `Is human induced climate change occurring?' is `yes,' and that is settled science. Agriculture must adapt if we are to continue to feed ourselves. III. The Local Economy9. The Emergent Market. This chapter begins with stories about the experiences of two farmers who dealt with catastrophe under the constraints of different marketing approaches. One survived the disaster, the other was bankrupt. New models of direct marketing, such as community supported agriculture, permit farmers to manage the risks associated with natural, medical and other disasters. 10. The Consumer in a Changing Food System. As the market has changed, so has the relationship between food producers and their customers. This chapter examines the role of the consumer in agriculture. 11. Slow Money. The Slow Food movement that began in Italy in the 1980s as a response to the opening of a McDonald's in Balzano is underwritten by Slow Money. According to its founder, Woody Trasch, Slow Money focuses capital into local foodsheds. `Returns-on-investment' include qualitative (quality of life) as well as quantitative (monetary) values. Only when one understands that food is not a commodity, do we begin to regain an appreciation for craftsmanship. 12. CSA. Community Supported Agriculture is mentioned many times in this book. But the CSA concept is so important that it warrants a chapter of its own. I begin by tracing the history of the CSA movement from its nineteenth century European roots to its current place as one of the fastest growing sectors in American agriculture. I discuss its effectiveness, both as a business strategy for small and mid-size farms and as a social strategy for engaging the public in farming. The CSA model is also one of the most rapidly evolving models in agriculture and several approaches are explored. 13. Scaling Up - Can Small Farms Feed America? To change the dominant food system in America the challenges of feeding large, concentrated segments of the population must be addressed. A story about the local-food movement at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany illustrates how the passion and drive of a few individuals changed the food system on campus. Colleges and universities everywhere are changing the way food is procured and prepared - local is becoming logical. Moving from the institution-scale to that of a major metropolitan center, I focus on the challenge of feeding urban populations of millions, and conclude that the system will need to be rescaled if most American are to get a significant portion of their food from local sources. IV. Full Circle14. The Emergent Agriculture. We end where we started, at the low counter in my kitchen where I write each morning. Predictably, the intent of the final chapter is to pull things together, to close the argument that the way food is produced, distributed and marketed is trending toward greater sustainability. Although the transformation to a national standard of sustainable agriculture will take years, the movement is gaining momentum. And that is a reason to hope.
Responsibility: Gary Kleppel ; foreword by John Ikerd ; cover design by Diane McIntosh.


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Tipping points in food and farming are obvious to anyone courageous enough to look. This highly readable treatise explains the healing future awaiting us. Let's learn, embrace, and move forward. This Read more...

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