I have been a food grower for a few years and have always enjoyed the freedom that it gives me, to simply plant a seed into the soil, tending to it as it is the most important seed of life and watch it grow!
To be the caretaker and not the keeper of nature is the key to creating a sustainable and organic environment and the conditions needed to produce nutritionally rich food and a place where nature does what it does and we can reap the benefits, whilst passing on the genetic heritage of that species. A symbiotic relationship between me and nature.
Our current food system is at best treading water, but in reality, the way most of the world farms it food, is unhealthy, unethical and illogical. Even with all the technology we have developed, it seems, that we drift further and further away from food sovereignty. Only 100 years ago, many people, especially outside of cities grew their own food, built their own dwellings, repaired their broken things and generally lived a life which was connected to living off the land. Granted we didn’t have many of the luxuries we have today, life was simple and hard, and people had more responsibility for themselves and their community. What you couldn’t grow or find or repair, you would have neighbours to help. People had little money generally, but most people had what they needed. Really, it was the cities where people were poor, as it was more competitive and more expensive. Cities were really a design to create wealth for already wealthy people.
Nutritional deficiency, rising prices and toxin ridden food has monopolized the western food market for over 70 years. Before this, generally food was not grown on mass scale and fewer if any pesticides were used. Much of the food was grown on small farms or on peoples patches of land. More control and accessibility was afforded to people, which meant that food was cared for like it was your own food. Now, this has all about disappeared, as slowly food become a commodity for growing national corporations. This, I believe is one of the greatest tragedies to happen. Food is life, everyone deserves to be able to eat and more importantly grow their own,. It’s one of the our Human Rights.
Once I decided to start growing my own food and buying from local farms where possible, I started to realize that food isn’t just about sustaining life. Now, I think, even more than ever, growing food is the most important action to take and also the greatest gift you can give yourself. Even if you may have tried growing anything, and it was a disaster. I would still urge you to grow. Growing food isn’t all about producing food you can eat. The idea of learning to grow is to observe and understand how plants work, react, change, evolve. Once you understand the ‘Soil Food Web’ you can grow anything. First year of growing food is for making mistakes. If you can grow food, you can do anything.
Humans, have in one way or another cultivated food for millennia, possibly 100’s of millennia. It’s in our DNA, and even in our own gut-biome is and has always been connected to the soil-biome. It’s actually essential for our health to have this connection. When you eat from the land, that is free from toxin, grown in soil that is bursting with life, our whole system synchronizes with the land. From that we can build great communities of health and conscious people. This is, in my opinion, true Health and Wealth.
It’s not until I started growing food that I started to change the way I thought about plants. I had always thought them fascinating, but I had never really thought about exploring the relationship that plants played in my life.
A seed (of varying sizes) contains within in it, all the information it needs to continue it’s species life cycle. Not only from all the previous generations growth and fruiting, but also a seed will record other changes in the environment; temperature, precipitation and disease etc. This enables the next generation of seed to be able to adapt to our ever changing climate.
The plant just like humans, has an immune system and is able to fight of viruses and disease. If a plant in an environment that is unfavourable, i.e the plant is isolated in it’s growth, then it will struggle to build a healthy immune system. For instance, when we grow mono-crop food with pesticides or any artificial inputs that plant becomes dependent on those inputs. Just as with our own immune system, what we feed ourselves is what we become. If their is the right biodiversity, the plants that grow their will be healthy and require no artificial inputs.
Throughout history; seeds and food were always an important trading commodity. It has only really been the past 100 years, where most people in the western world have become not only detached from their food source, more importantly we have lost our connection to the cycle of planting seed, nurturing seedlings, maturing the plant, harvesting, saving the seed for next year. Within that seed is my future, your future and humanities future.
To myself, apart from knowledge, I ask; What will be the next trading commodity? Food, especially seeds will emerge as a currency of sorts, especially as food and other imported goods become more expensive and harder to obtain. Our knowledge and skills will also become seeds of exchange in the future.
Investment in seeds, is an investment in yourself, in your bright future. It’s true that nothing can live in isolation, there needs to be support mechanisms for each organism so it can thrive. Exchange, will be the channel of trade in the future. Trade or Barter, is in it’s very essence the freest and most equal form of exchange, simply because both parties agree on a win/win outcome and the trades only outcome is that both parties need the product or service. Moreover, the continued exchange with your neighbour, etc, will lead to a relationship of trust and mutual fulfilment.
Our souls are seeds that need to be nurtured too. For me; seeds are the future and because they represent the potentiality for life they ought to be held in the highest regard. To think that all life on Earth generated from seed and soil within that shell, sometimes so small we can’t see it with the naked eye, is the potential life force to carry on the evolution of that species.
For the past century since the introduction of mono culture farming and the advent of chemical fertilizers produced by companies like Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer, there has been a direct yet subtle and covert attack on the natural order of things.
A deeply beautiful thing happened when I started growing food! It was as if the food I grew was a reflection for my life. I started to think about the complexities of the Soil Food Web, and the multitude of influences that ultimately determined how much food I would get and what it would taste like. I compared this to how I feel on a daily basis; depending on the factors and influences in my life and the balance between them, would help determine my general mood. I realized that with the wrong balance or influences or ones that were toxic or artificial that my life wouldn’t be healthy and abundant.
This got me to thinking, that I learnt this through observation, and I was able through this to determine how I can adapt to the changes and challenges on my plot and understand through observing the nuances and cascading causes and effects. Any natural system including our food and mind, are part of a wider web of life. Most of our actions are based on learning through subjective experience, which form ideas and belief systems to influence further the actions we take and how we feel on a daily basis. Without an understanding of how any system works effectively, it never will.
I have come to realize the depth of knowledge that can be gained from observing how a natural eco-food system continually creates, decays and reinvents itself, constantly seeking homeostasis, in the pursuit of growth and life.
Our mind and society is like this too. To become aware of these functions and how influence society and our minds, is essential if we are to truly grow.
To best way to grow food is to use natural techniques and guide and already perfect system to working for you. What I learned is that once I understood how a food system worked, I understood that I was part of it too and that if I was I needed to take action and grow with growing my own food.
So, you may ask! How and why?
With a more localized world, we can have that very thing. If we all learnt how to provide many of our own needs and build communities to be able to create a symbiotic relationship with others that focused on the essentials of life. The Off grid lifestyle is an example of this. But imagine if people started to grow their own food, or keep hens, or make honey, etc? If we all were able to provide something really worthwhile for our community. We can still have culture, music, etc. As this way of life would represent an understanding that everyone can provide something great but when the every day person doesn’t recognise that without this connection to the most simple and important things in life, we lose sight of when our actions and way of life can jeopardise our very existence.
Localisation of the Nation is one of the solutions to the current crisis we are facing. The entire systems success or failure rests on all of the links being strong. However, because of the clinical and artificial connections we have with our trading partners, who we rarely meet, this creates relationships that are based purely on personal benefit and not the benefit of all. This is understandable as the way we grow food, be it livestock, grains or horticultural produce, is based on yield, volume and profit. Most farmers don’t grow there own food to eat. Most farmers on the planet, especially if they are part of the current mono Ag food system are heavily dependent on financial support and their crops are heavily dependent on artificial fertilizers. A farm now is not self sufficient, it lacks biodiversity, health and natural equilibrium. Farms have become specialists, lacking the necessary knowledge to grow food in a healthy and natural way. We leave our own ancestral knowledge behind and instead employed the capitalist way of growing food.
One crop, high yield, using disease resistant seeds and relying on artificial inputs to feed to dependent crops. This may produce an abundance of food, but as research and tests have shown compared to the food grown in the 40’s, there is between 10-90% less nutrients. Much of this difference will be the micro-nutrients, which are found in much less concentration in conventional farms, compared to permaculture and bio-dynamic farms. This is simply down to diversity. Without the biodiversity of plants, flowers, shrubs and trees, soil cannot sustain this bio-diverse and nutrient rich soil. If we look at why permaculture farms can be so successful in the volume and quality of food grown, whilst still maintaining and building healthy soils, you can see through observing the natural bio-diverse living system which is self regulating. NO NEED for artificial inputs in permaculture farms and spaces. Although the principles of having a successful permaculture farm, are simple, it does take around 2-7 years to transform land into a self sustaining, healthy and abundant farm.
Through this process of regenerating land, into an abundant food larder, with a bio diverse and complexity of relationships, which give us in return everything we need to live a healthy and abundant life. Observing how nature interacts, communicates and integrates itself into the web of life, particularly the soil food web, gives us all the answers we need to successfully live with the land. With the benefit of having access to ancient knowledge off growing and new technology, we have the greatest opportunity to create an healthy and abundant homestead.