We all eat. In fact, producing food is humanity’s largest endeavor. Every year, we produce almost ten trillion pounds of food — vegetables, fruits grains, meat, fish, mushrooms, eggs… It swamps other huge industries like cars and trucks, of which we produce a mere 400 billion pounds per year. According to Toensmeier in The Carbon Farming Solution, about half of the greenhouse gases we produce come from growing, processing, and transporting food. But there is a flipside: in the wonderful book, Drawdown, we find that changing what we eat, how we grow food and plants can help to restore the planet. Really: we humans can be part of the solution!
But we don’t yet know how to get there. Isn’t organic and local food way too expensive? Doesn’t it take too much land? Doesn’t everyone everywhere eat more meat as soon as they can afford it? Who wants to be a farmer anyway?
There are thousands and thousands (millions?) of small and medium farmers all around the world who are working on these questions. Families in Africa implementing a water collection system with swales. A farmer in Quebec growing seaberries next to apples to supply nitrogen naturally. Ranchers in Australia using rotational intensive grazing to sequester carbon in the soil. All of these things improve harvest and income and the planet at the same time. I love this win-win situation. I also love the feeling of this gigantic, simmering grassroots movement working on profound change. I want to be a part of it.
I also love being outside, where life is, and interacting with life as well as the swirl of sky and clouds and weather. I love projects. I want to get out from behind my computer screen and do something with my hands.
Farming is supposed to be very, very hard work, but people say there are ways to make it easier. So, I am going to try out a new way of farming, which is a permaculture orchard, a food forest, a self-sustaining edible ecosystem that mimics nature. If you do this right, a lot of the typical farming work – planting, fertilizing, weeding – goes away, and you are left with management and harvesting.
We’re going to start with a little incubator orchard behind our house on 1/4 acre for the first two or three years. In this blog, I want to document the process of how this farm grows — starting from scratch. I hope you’ll find this entertaining and informative!