Thursday, February 21, 2013

Big Things in Small Spaces

When I talk about what's possible - not what I have, personally, accomplished, but what's possible -, I'm often met with blank stares or with an it can't be done attitude. Sometimes, it's just a really good thing that I'm pretty stubborn, or that I have this weird little personality quirk that forces me to try to prove wrong the naysayers.

But it's not even a life-or-death scenario, or even the difference between poverty and properity, for me (yet), because I still live in the richest nation in the world in a little suburb in a fairly affluent community, and Deus Ex Machina and I still have jobs that pay pretty well, and so even if my experiments in growing food fail, we'll still eat (for now).

The same can not be said for some of India's farmers - especially those who live in extremely impoverished areas and depend on their crops, not only for their families' sustenance, but also for their livelihood.

And what they can do on 2.5 acres of land without high yield GMO seed is pretty remarkable.

Contrary to what those seed companies want us to believe, we don't need to change the seeds and make them better to feed the world. In fact, using those seeds and other chemical inputs have caused devastating losses to Indian farmers and have certainly caused more harm than good.

The bottom line is that we don't need better seed. What we need is different techniques. In short, we need to change the way we grow things.

And that's exactly what several farmers in India's poorest region are doing, and the result is an enormous rice harvest - over 22 tonnes - on a piece of land that is a mere 2 and a half acres (1 hectare).

I think it's incredible news, and I'm so excited, because if they can grow 22 tonnes of food - enough to lift themselves out of poverty and significantly improve their lives - then, just maybe, those of us who are stuck on postage stamp-sized lots in the suburbs still have a fighting chance of growing enough food to feed ourselves.

We tapped our maples the other day. We have ten of them on our property and another five in our neighbors' yards. We've decided to expand our sugaring operation this year by adding five more taps, which will give us a total of twenty (we haven't put in the other five, yet, but will do that this weekend). Depending on the year, we harvest around a gallon of syrup for every three to five buckets. If we have a good year, we might get seven gallons of maple syrup.

Seven gallons ... of syrup.

We're not ever going to be a commercial operation, but if we put that into dollars at the current cost per gallon of maple syrup, our seven gallons is worth over $500.

We'll be sugaring for the next few weeks, and after that, it will be time to plant the peas ... and our chicken order is ready to submit (we're ordering 40 cornish X for meat chickens and four new laying hens) ... and as soon as we harvest the bunnies, we'll be planting in the greenhouse.

More isn't always better. Sometimes it's just more, and when it comes to land, more land doesn't necessarily mean security. As the farmers in India have shown, sometimes it's not the size that matters, but what one does with it.

1 comment:

  1. Food is a basic right for all. It should not be interfered with just so some corporation can slap a patent on it and hold the whole of humanity ransome. Leave our seeds and food alone.