Yeah....Peak Soil!

;-)
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/03/06/7521 /
Excerpt:
So, whatís the solution? The answer to peak oil is peak soil. The more people who have their hands in it and have a little of it under their fingernails, the better placed we will be to feed our communities and, indeed, the world.
There are different things you can do to be part of the solution. If you are a gardener already, keep up the good work this spring and try to scale up your growing, if your time and space allow. More importantly, try to bring some non-gardeners into the fold this year, perhaps by organizing a backyard or community gathering on Kitchen Garden Day. If youíre not a gardener, this is the year to start.
If you canít garden because of where you live, make as direct a connection as you can with someone in your area whoís growing and selling food whether itís through regular purchases at a farmerís market or membership in a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm. Your support helps protect that farmland from development and helps keep that farmer farming.
We canít change what President Bush or OPEC will do today, but we can change our own actions and thatís a good place to start.
Care Charlie
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Amen, brother Charlie, Amen. Gardening is a revolutionary act. A blow against the Empire. Grow like your life depends on it.
By the way, wanted to complement you on your pot and large spoon. What do we want? Freedom. When do we want it? Now. Si, se puede.
--

Billy

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"Charlie" wrote in message

I was fortunate to catch last night a showing of the documentary "The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil" with questions and answers by Roberto Perez, who featured quite extensively in the documentary. He made some interesting observations, including that Cuba didn't try to go 'organic during the special period, they were simply trying to survive. They just needed to grow food where & when they could and with what they had on hand. The community spontaneously started doing what they could to deal with shortage. They were fortunate to some extent that they had a political system which could quickly ramp up resources and technical assistance.
I am not a great fan of the word 'organic' given the loose way the term is thrown around. I appreciate the Cuban persepctive, they just grew plants to survive. It also made me reflect on my few years experience. I started down the line wanting to grow better lawn so I learnt about soil & humus & the like. That led on to growing things & eventually deciding I had better start eating what I grow. The extension has been sharing produce & plants with neighbours & workmates. Now others are also growing in their back gardens. I have been involved with the local permaculture society which runs back yard vegetable garden tours. That is an excellent way for people & communities to explore, in a low key manner, back yard practitioners of vegetable growing, in more sustainable ways. Its nothing grandiose or sponsored, merely some people who are interesxted in opening their gardens & others interested in viewing, with some publicity to link the 2.
rob
rob
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Relatively few people have voluntarily chosen to make the switch to exclusively local foods. But in some cases circumstances have resulted in the abrupt disappearance of global trade, and it has been demonstrated that people can survive and restore food sovereignty. Take, for example, Cuba. Until 1989 Cuba's major trading partners were the Soviet nations of Eastern Europe. Cuba exported sugar and imported most other foods, as well as fuel, machinery, and chemicals. In 1989 about three times as much Cuban land was planted in sugar cane than was planted in all other food crops combined. Fifty-seven percent of the calories in the Cuban diet were imported. But the abrupt disintegration of the Soviet-allied governments and the Soviet Union itself resulted in the sudden loss of these trading partners.
The loss of its trade partners meant a loss of two-thirds of Cuba's food supply, as well as the fuel, machinery, and chemicals upon which its agricultural system depended. Compounding the shortages was a tightening of the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba in the early 1990s. The food shortage was so acute that diseases of malnutrition became widespread.
Lacking the "inputs" (such as chemicals, fuel, and hybrid seeds) required for industrial-style monoculture, Cuba was forced to transform its farming system. Food production was decentralized, and farmers in each region were encouraged to diversify rather than specialize. Urban, family, and community gardening, which had always been features of Cuban life, were officially encouraged, and a program ot public education and model farms was undertaken to spread knowledge about biological farming methods. The Ministry of Agriculture even replaced its front lawn with vegetable gardens.
By 1999, Cuba had become a nation of food producers. Urban gardens alone produced more than eight hundred thousand tons of food, mostly vegetables. There is no way to compare this sector to pre-1989 levels, because until then this sector was considered insignificant[ and not counted. However, this remarkable statistic shows that cities can produce food, though not in the style of acres upon acres of grain fields; instead, intensive cultivation of yards and parks and rooftops can ensure a steady supply of fresh produce to urbanites (for more on urban gardening, see chapter 3).
The prospect of a crisis is obviously not the only compelling reason to revive local food production. There are many benefits of local food, starting with flavor, continuing through nutrition, and definitely including community economic stability. But it's good for us who live in a culture of constant convenience consumerism to be reminded that the time-honored methods of producing food can still feed people perfectly adequately.
For most people in most places throughout time, the food available has been organic and local. Organic was all there was until the mid-twentieth century, and anything beyond local, to the extent that it was available at all, was an expensive luxury, out of daily reach for average people. Abundant globalized food may not always be available to us either. It is easy for me to imagine the United States, or the whole world, in suddenly different economic circumstances, with an abrupt halt to all international trade, as Cuba faced in 1989, that forces a transition to greater dependence on community-based food production. The skills and practice of food production are important to revive and to prevent from disappearing. --------
With Monsanto, and others, trying to corner the seed market, the above may be our last line of self defense. Gardening is a revolutionary act.
--

Billy

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yup, as the joker Perez stated, 'Cuba became a giant experiment for the possible flow ons of peak oil'. The economic melt down came dramatically & hit hard, quickly. 'Organic' is a luxury term for wealthy developed nations, Cubans simply wanted some grub to fill their stomachs. Without fertiliser or fuel to run tractors or pesticides they had to make do with composts, hand or animal traction & natural predation & pest control. That is, I think, the amazing thing about the 'cuban experience'. It is not that the nation had an overnight ecological conversion, its not that the people decided to eat better or become more sustainable, Cubans simply did not all become green one morning. The changes they had to effect were results of a horrendous & massive tear in their social & economic fabric. Either they quickly made do or they starved. Westeners can go for a visit & marvel at 'organic' food frowing, urban agrictulture etc etc. We can go home thinking we have seen 'the way the world should be'. For the average Cuban I reckon they view a world 'the way it had to be' simply to survive. Although the changes are impressive, and I give a huge amount of credit to the people in the way they adapted, the standard of living I think now is quite some way off what it was before the special period. More than that, I would not wish to replicate the utter shit they found themselves in which led to the dramatic changes in their lifestyles. The western world may yet have to live through it as well. In Cuba we have a glimpse of how change can be effected, but we also have a glimpse at the misery that can accompany such change.
rob
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