This is a pretty amazing film. I found it at the Post Carbon Institute
"Filmmaker Rebecca Hosking investigates how to transform her family's farm in Devon (U.K.) into a low-energy farm for the future. This video features excerpts from an interview with Post Carbon Senior Fellow Richard Heinberg".
One of Heinberg's quotes " Our energy dependence is equivalent to 22 billion slaves".
I`ll be looking forward to a part 2 of this in a few years time: I sure hope there is one, and that feeding people is one of the top 3 achievements: carbon neutrality and ecological health, being the other 2.
Permaculture gardens and tree farms are lovely and if one is lucky enough to have the land to feed yourself, is the best way to do that ecologically - But they can't feed the biilions on the planet, unless complete global redistribution of land, infastructure costs and somehow skill aquision is transfered to 10 - 50% of the population. I don`t see that happening before the real food-fuel crises. Permaculture takes long, laborious, minimal return, years of work and money (trees/shrubs are not cheap) to get established. While many incredible examples of permaculture design thrive, very few can feed more than a few families. Harvesting is particulary laborious. Most people could not afford to farm like this.
I believe plowing has a place in food production and but it can be reduced to once in a long while with long rotations, cover crops and diversity, with pastures brought into the rotation with grains and vegetables. This does requires power.
I think its folly to dismiss the horse. I`d suggest finding Eric and Anne Nordell`s excellent series of articles in the Small Farmers Journal on sustainable large market horse gardening. You`ll have to buy the back issues, but you can, and you won`t be disapointed!
As well there are electric tractors, conversions and new ones and I think they deserve far more attention.
On market gardens a biodiesel walk behind tractors may be an option for transition if materials are available for making the fuel locally without competeing for food or land resources (waste grease, for e.g.)
In Canada we have a lot of large beef farms too and the acreage for is vast and the hay making energy intensive, as is the grain production that goes into fattening up the steers at feedlots. I propose the government purchase these large acreages, close to towns and cities across the country and redistribute this land in 5 - 100 acre lots (depending upon the farming proposal) to farming potentates. We`ll need organic agriculture departments not threatened with closure, and mentoring with farmers and, yes, permaculture designers.
you have a 500 acre farm endowed with hedgerows and woodlot, a small scale intensive agriculture could thrive - each independent, yet interconnected. Trade becomes real goods - use of my horses to plow in exchange for grazing on the harvested market garden...or I grow you mangles and you give me the wool. What a lovely world!
But it won;t come to that until....it comes to that (when there are no more desk jobs, or waitress or call centers. We`d have to give people land, say title is earned after proving production of so much food with said amount of carbon debt.
That is what I think Rebecca Hosking should do to transform her family's farm in Devon into a low-energy farm for the future. Bring in the community of people it would take to do just that.