The Future of Agriculture and the Importance of Developing Our Skills and Knowledge Base

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i'm looking into a greenhouse so i can grow coffee... gotta have that to make lattι. i think i'll need to grow cocoa too. so if i put a 2nd greenhouse out in Savannah (NY), can you keep an eye on the coffee there? ;) seriously though, i'm not a huge fan of straight roasted chicory. what other locally growable coffee substitutes are there? we've got brewing beer & cider down, but i'll need more flatish land to grow grain. the hops grow like crazy here, plus we have several non-hop plants for preserving beers (creeping charlie, for example). there's a dammed pond on our property that is rumored in the town history to be the first local grain mill. the flow is restricted currently by a Fish & Game dam upstream, but that is currently failing... lee
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Is the dam on anyone's list for removal? There's been a movement afoot for a while to eliminate dams whose purpose has evaporated over the years.
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mine? no, because the state doesn't know it exists (and i'm not going to press the issue so that they find out). the F&G dam was not in good shape before the flooding this past spring, & that certainly didn't improve anything. i will see F&G tomorrow and ask about that dam. it really doesn't serve much purpose, except to slightly (about 2') artificially raise the water level in a spring fed pond. i suspect the reason F&G has control over that dam & section of stream is more for access to the pond for stocking efforts. of course, if they don't do some work on it, i strongly suspect the road is going to go away in the next flood... the under road culvert can't take that much water going through. we had 8" over the road, along with the culvert's load. it washed a cement block i left on my dam over 300 feet downstream... there was too much water coming in for me to get the drain at the bottom of the dam open, but i suspect that's a good thing really. there was no damage to my dam at all (it's earth & rock, at least 200 years old). lee
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<Charlie> wrote in message

Yep, which will further compound the effects of global warming and the extremes of weather events we are being warned about.
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The US is not the world and since the US needs world participation to keep it economically strong, it will be just as stuffed as any other country when oil production ceases to be effective. The US is also very relaint of oil for food transport and food production.

Yep. That means most modern cloth we wear, our computers our tupperware, much of our bedding materials, much of our furnishing cloth, the stuffing in our furniture, our shampoos, soaps, detergents, ice cream, tyres, car components - the list is very long.

Yes and since then it's found it's way into just about everything in your house. If you really want a scar, check out each household item and figure out where it comes from. so much of it needs petrochemicals.
And

Ummmm. I don't think you have got the right idea about the availablity of synthetics and where they come from.

Nope. It will be in deep doodoo, just as the rest of the 'developed' world will be. And remember there are 4 (I think that is the figure I recall) guns for every person in the US. Not a pretty thought.
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<Charlie> wrote in message

Interesting article Charlie; thanks for posting it. There are a few problems with it though.
As a producer of beef cattle, I really disagree strongly with what he wrote about the need to be vegetarian. His view is very restricted as it relys on the belief that all animals are lot fed and that therefore one must have land to grow hay and grain. Balderdash I say. Such a concept only applies in farming areas of full snow cover over winter and even then in the dark ages, few beasts were kept over winter - just enough to breed stock for the next year.
I'm currenly looking for some sheep (mainly for fleece) but I will have any surplus killed. Sheep/goats/poultry (chooks, ducks, pigeons etc)/rabbits would be the sensible stock for non vegetarians to keep and these could be kept in smaller areas with a bit of effort.
Another thing which really irritated me about this article is that the author didn't even mention the need to use old fashioned non hybrid varieties of seed. All gardeners should know abut the need to be seed savers if they want to have a self succient garden.
There were a few other things about the article that I thought he missed but enough for now.
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Are you talking about smaller animals here or cattle? If cattle I have problems with this paragraph.
Also the inefficiency in land use and water consumption of taking vegetable calories and feeding them to animals (which you eat) instead of eating them yourself is quite clear. I don't mean to say we could eat grass but the same land and water will feed more people if turned to vegetable food production instead of pasture.
Having said that I would much prefer to remain an omnivore. I hope it doesn't get to the point where meat becomes a luxury but it's possible. In the dark-ages meat was a luxury, the commoners (that's me and I assume you) only ate meat on feast days and holy days.
David
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not all land is suitable for vegetable production. cattle/sheep/goats can thrive on land too hilly or rocky to be useful for food production. i take it you are not familiar with the Northeast of the US? we have plenty of water, but not a huge amount of decent flat land suitable for food crop production. there's a reason old Yankees were dairy farmers & shephrds.

if you stop looking at 'meat' as being only high maintainance modern beef breeds (or dairy being only Holsteins), you will see that it should be possible to continue your omnivore habit fairly well. lee <who can get potable water from my well without electricty just fine & heat my house with wood if i have too>
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In many parts of the world sheep , deer, goats, and native breeds of cattle can graze a living from terrain too steep, poor, cold, wet, hot, dry , acid, alkaline, rocky or remote for humans to grow food crops on.
Wherever poor land can only support vegetation fit for rough grazing/browsing by species which can digest fibre by cudding, it makes perfect sense for humans to let cudding animals convert that tough vegetation into proteins vitamins and fats which the human physiology can digest.
Janet. (eating local hill sheep, wild venison and hardy beef in Scotland)
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contains these words:

This is all fine, more power to you if you can get a feed off such marginal land. However in many places feeding animals on pasture that is quite suitable for cropping _is_ done. Lot and shed fed beasts _are_ fed on grain etc that is grown on such land and often these are fertilised with chemicals requiring energy (oil) to make.
It's also going to be harder (but not impossible) to raise vegetable crops on that land without chemical fertiliser if energy becomes very expensive. So would we be able to afford the added layer of inefficiency of running it through an animal to get our calories in a preferred form? From the perspective of considering current common practice the original article has a point.
David
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yes, and *that* is all due to the easy availability of petrol & chemicals both for intensive cropping & moving the meat to market. take away cheap fuel & those operations will disappear rapidly, along with the cattle breeds unsuitable for living on marginal land.

do you know much about organic growing or the farming methods used in the early 1900s? it's not only not impossible, it's pretty simple (far from "easy" though). no, the fruits & veggies won't be huge & "perfect", but they'll be a lot better tasting & more healthful (the nutritional values of fruits, vegetables & grains has actually declined since the 40s when factory farming & massive chemical use became the "norm". lee <gotta go! big Tstorm!>
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David, I've got a book for you to read - the Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Poulan. Read that first and then write about raising animals for food.

No, not all that harder, just - different. More local, more diverse methods are going to have to be used. Going to wreak havoc on agribusiness, and as far as I'm concerned that's a good thing.

We're better off 'running it through an animal' than running it through a factory first.
--
Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
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expounded:

Excellent writer! Check out "The Botany of Desire", if you haven't already.
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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is next, though.
--
Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
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expounded:

After you've read it, have some fun: Explain the theme of the book to various people and see who drools and says "whuh?" Basically, it's about plants training people.
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expounded:

I willing to learn but I am a long way from bookshops so how about telling me (briefly) what I might learn from it and your particular point relevant to this thread.
David
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We feed grain to ruminants who aren't equipped to eat it. We have to medicate them to stave off infection in thier rumen - the only reason it's somewhat suiccessful is the fact that they're killed before the infection actually kills them. We won't even get into the feeding of animal byproducts to them - remember, they're herbivores, they aren't supposed to eat animal protein.
The whole concept is too complicated to explain here (how food animals are fed, the process, if done naturally, really isn't), If you're interested (and you should be) about our food supply you need to try to get your hands on a copy.
--
Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
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David, I suspect that you wouldn't find this book a lot of use given that you are in Oz and the practices which apply here are very different to those in the US. The lot feeding here is for a very short time and is often combined with grass feeding anyway.
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expounded:

I just read the intro and chapter one, which is a freeby, here:
http://www.michaelpollan.com/omnivore.php
scroll down a bit for the download.
It looks quite interesting and I like his style. The analysis of corn in the economy and in the food chain is more important for the USA but I suspect has some relevance here. The other chapters on non-industrial food may be worth the price without it.
David
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I'm happy you found it interesting, I find the whole thing fascinating. I'm on grass farming now, and Joe Salatin (hope I spelled that right).
This book is an education for anyone about industrial food systems. And believe you me, that's what many of us eat, industrial food. Even if we think we're eating organic......
--
Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
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