The vast expanse of forever-green American lawn is not only the most resource intensive agricultural crop in the world, but also an obscene icon to our arrogant privilege and total alienation from a life in harmony with nature.
For those of us living in the cities, surrounded by cars and concrete where we can't even see the stars, it is not difficult to see the ways we are disconnected from nature, and the cycles out of which we receive the elements essential to life. This has enormous implications in how we interact both biologically and socially. Agri-culture, taken at the root to mean "quot;culture of the soil,"quot; out of which all life springs, is related to all aspects of our cultural life. For example, today most of our foods come to us via established cultural institutions governed by a handfull of agro-chemical/ pharmaceutical/"quot;life-sciences"quot; corporations. Our entire industrial civilization is needed to provide for our basic needs. Besides global inequity and agricultural chemical dependence, some elements of this culture include the erosion and lose of our top soil. at the rate of 38 tonnes per acre per year and the pollution and salinification of whole watersheds by fertilizers and industrial waste, leading to the desertification of once fertile land and mass species extinction. This is also facilitated by the 2,500,000 tonnes of pesticides used every year. We are losing diversity both in nature and in our agricultural systems, as represented by a 75% decrease in crop diversity in the last hundred years. Besides the "quot;costs"quot; of production, there are a myriad of social implications related to how our sustenance reaches our tables, these include: colonialism, war, and the use of food as a weapon through artificially created famines, embargoes, etc. One could go on.
In an age when genetically-engineered entrees are served to diplomats and heads-of-state at the White House, can we expect this dominant culture, with it's apparent goal of destroying the biosphere, to provide us with the nourishment that we need to over-come and transcend that very same system? A system wherein the same interests that profit from selling us the chemicals and transgenic seeds which lead to death and disease, are the very same interests that profit by selling us the drugs that compound the physical and spiritual degeneration caused by our food. All this under the facade of feeding the world and bringing us health.
Something I once heard Ramona Africa say rings true. "quot;A system so diabolical that it poisons the very food that we need to eat, the very water that we need to drink and the very air that we need to breathe, needs to be resisted!"quot;
A permanent agriculture, a culture based on the care of and respect for the biosphere, is the only counter-balance to the industrial prison in which our world is trapped. We need to regain control of our food and our lives to free ourselves from the death culture. To relearn and develop a supply of food, fiber and medicine that is sustainable and inherently non-violent is the only way we will develop autonomous communities that can serve as a base for our resistance.
All of what I have touched on is of particular relevance to those of us living in cities. As areas that produce very little or none of what they consume and that do not take responsibility for their waste (unused, potential resources i.e.. compost, greywater etc.), cities are significantly vulnerable to the whims of economic (and military) interests. Almost by default, we are also fully dependent on the exploitation of land somewhere else, by not returning our "quot;waste"quot; to this land we also create huge amounts of trash which becomes pollution somewhere else. Our garbage often travels hundreds of fossil fuel-driven miles to the landfill.
This doesn't have to be the case. Cities grew up around the places that were prime farmland with fertile soil and good access to fresh water. Today, 2,000 acres of farm land is being paved over daily, as our disposable suburban culture devours the countryside. But the point is that under all the asphalt and under all the trash is what were some of the most productive and biologically rich soils in the world. With cautions observed and actions taken to deal with potential toxins in the soil, there is no reason that we cannot or should not return the life, fertility, beauty and productivity to these urban areas.
I present here a vision of people breaking free of the dying system and using the land close at hand to generate potentially all of their food, medicine, fiber and fuel needs and to introduce beauty in the place of urban decay and suburban sprawl. Gradually we could see the emergence of self-reliant, cooperative communities providing the nourishment, both physical and spiritual, that we need to take up and manifest our visions of a better world. As this happens in more and more places, the land formerly exploited and pilaged by chemicals and mono-cultures, over-grazing and resource extraction can be freed and re-enlivened as native plant and wildlife refuges.
Either we take responsibility for living in an ecologically sustainable way or we and the earth will certainly perish. The choice is ours. The techniques are not difficult and can be learned from books, experimentation and the people around you. Seeds will grow. We just need to plant them. We need FOOD NOT LAWNS! Dig It!
Written by Tobias Policha, Food Not Lawns
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