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Tuesday, 24 February 2009

A Farm for the Future


You still have a little time to catch this programme on the BBC's iPlayer website, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

Wildlife film maker Rebecca Hosking takes a long hard look at whether the methods used by her ageing father and uncle to tend their farm in Devon can continue when cheap and easy oil runs out.

She's clearly shaken by the realisation of how vulnerable mechanised farming is, with cattle feed, machinery, transport, fertilisers and pesticides all dependent on fossil fuels. A fascinating clip when she attends a Soil Association conference on the subject shows a room full of farmers listening intently but looking, one and all, as if they've seen a ghost - and the ghost is their farm, their way of doing things.

Sceptical that hippy dippy organic and permaculture methods can feed the UK, which is a net importer of food and therefore particularly vulnerable to interruptions in oil and gas supply, she is amazed to find that careful permaculture, and in particular the abundance possible through 'forest gardening', can produce more food per acre than mechanised farms.

She talks to the big brains of peak oil, including Colin Campbell and Richard Heinberg, for the bleak reality check. But the pleasure is in seeing her meet pioneering permaculturists delivering practical proof of how productive their methods can be by working with and imitating natural systems instead of exhausting soil and biodiversity by battling against nature.

If you have a spare 50 minutes, do have a look. At the moment there are 21 days left to watch it from here.

It makes a nice companion film for the documentary we are screening for free next month on how Cuba coped when its oil supplies were cut off. Do come along on 25 March if you can, and bring a friend.

1 comment:

Gary (Coexist) said...

I managed to catch this program when it was first aired last week. Great to see the Beeb broadcasting a story on such a topic.
I have recently become interested/aware in the whole "Peak Oil"/"Self sustainability need" topic and watched the program with great intent. It was better presented than I thought it would be, showing current state of farming and more interestingly, Rebecca's state of mind throughout the whole program...First, the scepticism on a sustainable way of farming to actually wanting to implement many of the methods she had learnt. It shows how a little knowledge can change the way we run our lives for the better (in some case, with less effort!!!). I also acquired a lot of knowledge.

With this new found thirst for a new reality I set up a website (http://www.coexist.es) with my girlfriend and another friend hoping to highlight many of the "disturbing" avenues we are heading down on a global level and hoping to offer alternatives. One such alternative is sustainable farming along with Transitional movements and we are hoping to establish a platform whereby people can come, share and learn new ideas and also showcase existing movements.

I sincerely hope that the program had decent viewing figures, the word is continuing to spread and many people took from it the positivity that we did.