Part-time agrarianism

We Luddans are part-time farmers. All of us, men, women and children. Of course, this is partly because we love the rural lifestyle: the peace, the squeaky-fresh food, the easy pace of life that is one’s own. We love farming. Our children adore it!

But there are other reasons that go far deeper. We believe that all humans need to be involved with food and soil. Without it, we are cut off from the root of our existence on this planet. Without it, we are prey to political dispossession and mass-produced “illth foods” whose ghastly origins are better not contemplated. Without it, we are just dependent serfs whose touted freedoms stop short at the door of the locked warehouse.

Surely, among the skills needed for humanity to prosper into the future must be included the skills and the provident habits subsistence farming cultivates in its practitioners. We all must recapture the connection between our continued existence and the health of the soil. We value and honor work with the soil. Our children learn to grow food before they learn to read.

We are cottage farmers. We don’t farm to turn a profit or dream about making it big in cash cropping, although sometimes we sell our surplus. We farm to feed ourselves and our neighbors. We farm because it makes sense, and for the joy of it.


* Gene Logsdon’s writings. Here and here are a couple of good ones.
* A short but profound article on doing farming the right way.
* Granny Miller’s blog on the farming life and skills and lots of pictures along with opinionated posts. Many links to other interesting places.
* Foraging tips from people who know how.

Back to the list of 10.


4 Responses to “Part-time agrarianism”

  1. Keith Thomas Says:

    You wrote: “we are just dependent serfs whose touted freedoms stop short at the door of the locked warehouse.”

    This is the view, consistently, of Daniel Quinn. Many other have taken a similar position, basing it, I guess on the power of corporations to put profits (say, from selling food) above eliminating hunger (through access to food as a right).

    But if you step back a bit, you can see that at the most fundamental level it’s access to land which gives us access to food. The picture you paint of cottage farming life illustrates this truth. The warehouses can be locked, bolted and guarded, but if you can continue cottage farming, the power of the owners of food warehouses over you is zilch.

  2. leavergirl Says:

    Quite so. You probably can tell I am a fan of Ishmael… 🙂

    Basically, if you are afraid you won’t be able to eat if you turn into a serious dissenter, you are at a huge disadvantage. The disadvantage is far less for those who grow a lot of their own, and have neighbors who do too. Land access is basic. But so is staying out of debt. Vast numbers of American farmers have been dispossessed because they believed in getting bigger via debt. But the Amish have endured — through diversified low-input farming and extremely cautious attitude towards borrowing…

  3. Andrew (LarasDad) Says:

    I’m sure you are famailiar with Masanobu Fukuoka but I give you this anyways from his (1978 translation) “The One-Straw Revolution”, pg 109:
    “In my opinion, if 100% of the people were farming it would be ideal. … If natural farming were practiced, a farmer would also have plenty of tome for leisure and social activities within the village community. … ”

    And for anyone else reading these comments, I’ll just repost what I left on the ADR’s “The Mariner’s Rule” post:

    To all the homesteading dreamers (and doers), please think outside the box – read up on John Jeavons’ Biointensive mini-farming method. I hope these quotes from his “How To Grow More Vegetables” book will pique your interest: pg 26-27 “At intermediate yields, in many climates and soils, assuming sufficient water availability, a complete balanced diet may be grown on as few as 25 growing beds. (1 bed=120 sq ft) … A 40-bed growing area is fairly manageable for 1 person to do part-time, once one’s soil and skill are in reasonable shape.” … “In 1911, the Chinese were able to grow all the food for 1 person with biologically intensive techniques on an average of about this amount of farmable land.” … “The people in BioSphere 2 … raised 80% of their food for 2 years in a closed system. Their experience shows that a complete year’s diet for 1 person could be raised on the equivalent of just 3403 square feet!”

  4. leavergirl Says:

    Welcome, Andrew. I agree. I think it would be ideal for all being part of the food system, even if some people just add value to what their neighbors grow. And unless I hear a good counterargument, I believe that the only way to fix the food system is to do food person-to-person. Know who you are buying from.

    Jeavons’ method does not include meat. You would need more room. But if you skipped the extensive composting and put in chicken, rabbits, and a worm farm, you’d go far. I wonder if anyone has extended Jeavons into omnivory?

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