The Farm to Food Forest Project in the Rural Plains of Canada and the U.S. by FarmToFoodForesters
The Farm-to-Food Forest Project creates economic viability for small farms, reducing their emissions of greenhouse gases with agroforestry.
Worldwide agriculture is responsible for 1/3 of all CO2 emissions from human action. This fact combined with the disappearance of small farms and explosion in the number of large scale factory farms makes this issue more dire. Large scale farming is far devastating to the environment the any other form of agriculture.
Additionally, "factory farms" exclusively produce and harvest mono-cultures (single crop corn, soybean fields) which are detrimental to ecosystem health as well require massive energy inputs. A conventional farm whether that be CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) or with a field exclusively of corn or soybean (mono-culture) subjects the local and regional ecosystems to devastation causing
- Toxic run-off into rivers/streams,caused by soil erosion - manure/fert.
- Ground water contamination
- Hard compacted topsoil
- Pesticide drift and pollutants in our air
COMMODITY PRICES ARE PLUNGING:
Farmers in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. are facing in 21st century price reductions per every acre yield of their mono-crop acreage as farm lands are bought out by large factory farm operations which drive the price down. The number of family farms in the U.S. and Canada continues to plummet as the number of large farms increases. Additionally, traditional farming practices cannot adapt well to the weather extremes of climate change.
National or federal subsidies for family farms to remain economically viable are not enough. Farmers are on the front lines of both causing and seeing the effects of climate change. Farms need to be on the front line of mitigating climate change and reducing the earth's ambient temperature. Local governments or municipalities must support their farmers as their is a direct causal connection between farming practices and issues of flooding or pollution downstream from the farm. City, provincial, or county governments must create a Farm To Forest program. Incentivize or subsidize every farmer that converts a portion of their land to forest.
Is this proposal for a practice or a project?
What actions do you propose?
The Farm-To-Forest program is a multi-tiered approach to reducing a small farm's carbon footprint while providing sustainable income to keep farmer's from bankrupting.
1. REGIONAL PROVINCIAL/STATE SUBSIDIES
City, provincial, state, or county governments must create a Farm To Food Forest program. The Farm To Food Forest program incentivizes or subsidizes every farmer that converts a portion of their land to a food forest and land trust.
2. THE IMPORTANCE OF SOIL
According to UC-Davis, Phd candidate Jessica Chartas a combination of compost and cover crops sequesters carbon more than the traditional farming practice of single crop, soil disruption or removal. More importantly, since only a small percentage of farmers are engaging in cover crop or crop rotation practices the Farm To Food Forest program will be another approach to solving the issue of soil erosion and heavy chemical use and ultimately global warming.
3. LAND TRUST INCOME
The Farm to Food Forest Program will also support the development of land trusts. These land trusts would provide land to small family farms at a low monthly rent. Those families could in turn grow food for themselves and sell any additional produce at farmer's markets.
5. CSA CUSTOMER CUSTOMIZATION
Customers need customization as not every CSA box is created equal. CSA membership levels drop when members are finding their shares contain too much of one vegetable which is perishable and has no connection to the food needs of the individual.
The UN's IPCC reports that a diet with less red meat, and more plant based will reduce CO2 emissions from farming.
Additionally, The Farm To Food Forest program will incentivize farmers to continue to grow their crop but employ poly-culture approach to their acreage. A healthy forest is abundant with a diversity of plant species. The Farm To Food Forest project aims to end mono-culture farming forever. Farmers will be trained in the sustainable techniques and harvest potential of "permaculture." Forest offer a wide variety of native edible plants that could reach markets as cash crop alternatives to corn or soybean yields. In the 1970s,professor Bill Mollison an ecologist from the University of Tasmania along with David Holmgren created the term and practice of "permaculture." "Permacutlure" loosely translates to permanent culture. Ultimately, Farmers will have new permaculture-based products which they can bring to market a premium price.
Lastly, "permaculture" most importantly about long-term sustainability. "Permaculture" farms :
- Reduce the use of fossil fuels
- They do not require large amounts of water,
- They do not require pesticides
- There is need to till the land and plant seed every year.
- Yield a diverse, healthy soil
WHAT IS FOOD FOREST?
The term "Food Forest" refers to plants which are edible in the native environment, unlike plantation like plantings of cocoa, coffee, or tea. This project employs the concept of Food Forest Guilds.
The following cultivars will be planted together for the Farm to Food Forest Project:
- Hickory Trees
- Walnut Trees
- Hazelnut Trees
The above trees were chosen for their hardiness and ability to produce prodigious cash crops. Planting a diverse species of trees makes diseases less likely to occur and eliminates the need for pesticide applications.
5. THE ROLE OF SMALL FARM COOPERATIVES
Farmers engaging in this new green economy will employ existing organizations or unions to lend equipment, exchange ideas, pool financial and infrastructural resources, and establish food hub distribution channels for the permaculture harvests.
Who will take these actions?
There are many individuals and teams required:
- University students
- Local farmers.
- Marketing experts
- Food incubators
- Farmer's markets
Where will these actions be taken?
City, provincial, state, or county governments must create a Farm To Food Forest program in conjunction with local university's departments of agriculture in Canada, Chile, Mexico and the U.S.which have similar product outputs.
In addition, specify the country or countries where these actions will be taken.
What impact will these actions have on greenhouse gas emissions and/or adapting to climate change?
Trees in the Amazon and Borneo our the Earth's lungs. Trees have the greatest potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Urban Forest Network, one acre of forest annually sequesters 2.5 tons of carbon. Imagine if each farm in the Farm to Forest program converted 30 acres of their conventional fields to forest that's 75 tons of carbon removed from the atmosphere/farm.
Additionally, a diverse vegetative landscape does not require annual tilling, planting, and large energy and resource inputs and sequesters CO2. "Modern" farming practices releases so much CO2 agriculture is considered the 2nd largest emitter of the gas on Earth.
What are other key benefits?
In addition to the previously mentioned benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions the Farm To Food Forest program will create new markets locally and regionally for new farm products.
The Farm To Food Forest program will reduce catastrophic flooding if done in a very targeted region close to water bodies such as rivers, streams, or marshes.
Lastly, The health benefits for a person on a permacutlure-based diet versus a conventional 'Western" diet are substantial.
What are the proposal’s projected costs?
Education is key. "Permaculture" is not a widely known or employed concept in mainstream media or popular culture. We must change the perceptions of 'permaculture" and encourage local restaurant owners or chefs to incorporate more "permaculture" based edibles into the their menus.
Invite local restaurant owners, government officials to farm to eat a meal of permaculture-based foods at a dinner event under a tent.
Shubhendu Sharma a former industrial engineer, and a featured speaker on TED Talk spoke about his concept of afforestation the opposite of deforestation and how citizens with the right selection of plant materials can grow "100 year old" type forest in just 10 years. The Farm To Forest program will select native plant species which have quicker growth cycle than traditional forests have.
About the author(s)
I remember as a child seeing a cartoon about how the world would be an ugly unlivable place if everybody threw their garbage where ever they wanted and not in trash bins. I never imagined the world would be in much more dire shape than simply the issue of trash in our streets. I believe we as the people of Earth can collectively make the change we need to turn the world's green light back on.