Quebec adopted a food sovereignty policy this May. This is good news for all Quebecers. Here are some of the highlights that got us really excited here at Equiterre:
government agencies encouraged to buy local (to this end, a local food procurement strategy is slated to come out by year’s end)
a mention of the need to reduce pesticide use
the intention to increase the protection of farmland in or around our cities
recognition of the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet reduction targets
Lots to be happy about!
Equiterre, which has helped such institutions as day cares, schools and hospitals access more local food for ten years, has also offered its full cooperation to the government as it applies this policy.
We’d like to see more about the need to support and develop the organic food sector.
We’d also like to see some clearly defined local food procurement targets.
This local inspiration combines some excellent ideas. Hopefully, there is synergy in the combination and their vision can be achieved.
However, the Valhalla “movement” appears high on marketing, youth, style and organic weed. When I contacted them to offer my services to help teach them Aquaponics (something people in the U.S. are paying me to do), I received a polite, “Thanks, but no thanks. We got that covered.”
So much for the “come join the movement” hype.
Every generation believes that it holds the answers to our societal ills and that they are uniquely modern and equipped with new technology to solve our pressing environmental and social problems. This is one of the benefits of youth.
Ideas spring with great life force when we are young. But ideas are a dime a dozen, we eventually learn. And execution is what separates the dreamers from the real sustainable builders of the future who are able to create replicable models to be used by others.
I hope their enthusiasm and idealism can carry the day, but history tells a different story about communes, outside of the Kibutz model in Israel which was born out war and the need to defend land.
The 1960′s communes taught us that the real world of life is socially complex and needs more than just the fantasy of new technology creating a better life without conflict or injustice. Further, it has to be rooted in the here and and now rather than built on the hopes of a new tomorrow.
Our lives will be transformed, I firmly believe, on the existing infrastructure and built environment of today. The world does not need to be re-built, but rather retro-fitted to our new ideas and values that reflect cooperation and sustainability.
To create a new way of living and a new world does not call for breaking away from the existing world. Quite the opposite, it requires a deepening involvement with the world as it is, no matter how flawed. Because if they succeed, they have transformed the lives of only the people who manage to move and live there. What about the millions of other people who are stuck in the old cities, stuck in the old buildings, stuck in the old jobs? What is to come of them?
By Brett Gustafson Though it sometimes seems like our evil frankenfood corporate overlords, such as Monsanto and Dow, have completely hi-jacked our food system, many people around the nation are actually creating more sustainable and viable alternatives. A few good folks in Asheville, NC are bringing…
I have seen these vertical towers in action and they are a great invention because they save space and allow city dwellers to grow a good amount of food from any south facing window in homes and apartments.
We want to change the way produce is grown & distributed, FOREVER
To accomplish this goal, we have to make the production of greens and vegetables easy to do and accessible to everyone. So, we designed a special production system based on our patented vertical towers that allows us to grow more produce using less space, and then transport the unharvested towers to market. It allows us to sell “You-Pick” vegetables at the supermarket, letting the customers pick exactly how much they want.
This article proves scientifically that by using human skill to mimic nature and create closed loop ecosystems on farms, food production increases, environmental damage decreases, and profits increase. End of story.
[It] may be the most important agricultural study this year, although it has been largely ignored by the media, two of the leading science journals and even one of the study’s sponsors, the often hapless Department of Agriculture.
The study was done on land owned by Iowa State University called the Marsden Farm. On 22 acres of it, beginning in 2003, researchers set up three plots: one replicated the typical Midwestern cycle of planting corn one year and then soybeans the next, along with its routine mix of chemicals. On another, they planted a three-year cycle that included oats; the third plot added a four-year cycle and alfalfa. The longer rotations also integrated the raising of livestock, whose manure was used as fertilizer.
The results were stunning: The longer rotations produced better yields of both corn and soy, reduced the need for nitrogen fertilizer and herbicides by up to 88 percent, reduced the amounts of toxins in groundwater 200-fold and didn’t reduce profits by a single cent.
In short, there was only upside — and no downside at all — associated with the longer rotations. There was an increase in labor costs, but remember that profits were stable. So this is a matter of paying people for their knowledge and smart work instead of paying chemical companies for poisons...
…Adam Davis, an author of the study who works for the U.S.D.A., summarize[d] the findings, he said, “These were simple changes patterned after those used by North American farmers for generations. What we found was that if you don’t hold the natural forces back they are going to work for you.”
Stop to smell the flowers and you might learn something. Farmers and other ecosystem managers are considering a whole lot of factors few of us city slickers know about. They have better sense than to try to kill off every living thing that’s not salable. Country people are more mature about the facts of life and death. They’re familiar with the smell of manure, and not unduly afraid of it. They know that what feeds the life in the soil – the dead bodies and manure of plants and animals – feeds us people.
Nature – the community of life that provides us with the food we eat and the oxygen we breathe, and consumes our waste products for us – has an incredible ability to heal the destructive impacts of industrialization. The first entrants into an area damaged by radiation are microbes and fungi; this is why composting is a pollution-cleaning technology. The web of life slowly re-establishes itself, and (though the genetic damage will take many generations to restore the site) life will re-establish itself. But don’t kid yourself – the myth of clean, safe nuclear power, unquestioning belief in which was nurtured by the military-industrial establishment to continue the nuclear industry and manufacture bombs after World War II, is genetically destabilizing the planet.
The Bahai faith believes that humanity as a whole is on a path of maturation, like growing from childhood to adulthood. And our current stage is adolescence. We’re running around inventing and manufacturing enormous numbers of new things, not thinking of the consequences. Should we make it through to maturity as a species, it will be because our lover side has won over our warrior side. The Catholic philosopher Father Thomas Berry said, “The Universe is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects.” Though this mystical attitude – that, as American Indians believe, even plants and rocks are alive – seems illogical, the most advanced modern science is confirming that there is no real separation between anything. When you hurt another creature you’re hurting yourself. The most productive gardens and farms are those in which ALL species are welcome. The way to win a war is to make friends with the other side, not defeat them.
Family farmer Jean-Martin Fortier, whose Eastern Townships microfarm, Les jardins de la Grelinette à St-Armand, owned with partner Maude-Hélène, has been hailed, at home and abroad, as a model of its form, has written a guide, based on his decade of experience, for aspiring organic farmers, both amateur and professional alike. The book, Le jardinier-maraîcher, Manuel d’agriculture biologique sur petite surface, an Ecosociété publication, hit bookstore shelves on August 28.
This how-to guide, which features a foreword by Equiterre cofounder Laure Waridel, is destined to become a reference in organic agriculture. It looks at the technical aspects of small scale farming, with a focus on community supported agriculture, but also shows how this type of agriculture imbues the lives of those who choose it with special meaning.
Now available in all good bookshops. (In French only.)
Mice avoid eating Genetically Modified (GM) foods when they have the chance, as do rats, cows, pigs, geese, elk, squirrels, and others. What do these animals know that we don’t? Farmers, students, and scientists all discovered that animals refuse to eat the same GM foods that we consume everyday…
The Washington Post reported that laboratory mice, usually happy to munch on tomatoes, turned their noses up at the genetically modified FlavrSavr tomato. Scientist Roger Salquist said of his tomato, “I gotta tell you, you can be Chef Boyardee and mice are still not going to like them.”
The mice were eventually force fed the tomato through gastric tubes and stomach washes. Several developed stomach lesions; seven of forty died within two weeks. The tomato was approved without further tests.
We could have a heaven on Earth, but what have we got? You’ve got to lock all your doors, all the time. Build something and you don’t know if somebody’s going to tear it down. Go to sleep thinking you’ve done everything you can for your loved ones, and you wake up realizing life’s thrown you another curve ball in the form of unexpected problems. Work your fingers to the bone, and what do you get? Boney fingers.
Why is this all happening to us – the economy tanking, the crops dying in the fields, extreme weather events? Could it have something to do with the fact that humanity, and we as a country, have gotten a little lazy about helping our neighbors? Or gotten a little greedy about the world’s resources? You have to at least admit we each ourselves haven’t always been completely loving. So why would we be surprised when other people and even nature smacks US around?
The fact is the Earth as a whole is profoundly disturbed, and we’re going to have to make peace if we hope to survive. We have to quit making money doing destructive things, such as war over resources rather than self-defense. We need to quit trying to beat nature into submission by e.g. mowing lawns, and nurture ALL plants to grow to soak up the carbon dioxide. We have to quit making and selling poison processed “food” to each other, and quit telling poisonous half-truths to each other to justify the destructive things we are doing.
So you have to say to yourself: What is really important? That reminds me of another thing my mother used to say – “Share and share alike.”
For the most part our community gardening experiences have been a joy. We worked hard to build things, sweated working together, slept well knowing we did our best, and enjoyed that legal high you get when you do something out of love. But we have much more to do. For myself, neighbors are welcome to any food I grow, as long as somebody eats it. Unfortunately, some harvesters don’t know when to harvest, and so have picked cantaloupe, peaches, and pumpkins before they were ready. And children have been having food fights with tomatoes. It feels overwhelming sometimes to me that we as a society have become so disconnected with our own world that we don’t get it, for instance, that tomato plants growing in the dirt (fed by manures, composts, rotting dead plants and animals) are what goes into making pizza, spaghetti, tomato sauce, catsup, chili, etc.
Our roots are in the Earth. Every one of us. We need to eat. And we won’t eat if we don’t work together to grow food, which is not a given in this time of great change.
I recommend a book called City Farmer: Adventures in Urban Food Growing, by Lorraine Johnson. The hunger drama being played out here in Hazelwood, in which people of all income levels suffer for lack of healthy food (not knowing about nutrition and food growing), is being played out all over North America, and all over the world for that matter. This book chronicles radical efforts – from guerrilla gardeners planting places they don’t own to edible weed activists opening peoples’ eyes about unrecognized healthy food growing all around us – to regenerate our tattered web of life.
Rather than reacting to higher food prices in fear by being ever more cutthroat in dealing with our neighbors and environment, the only successful way to make healthy food accessible for all is for all the different kinds of people to try to be good neighbors to all the other living things – plants and animals and microbes – which are the source of our food.
The attitude of taking from other people and nature without giving has got to stop – or else.