Small Farm Future

I was sent this book recently by a friend and thought I would share it here. While not exactly touching on city food systems it does speak to some of the themes of community building and alternative food networks i had been researching, Small Farm Future by sociologist Chris Smaje outlines the possible future post covid and post capitalist created around repopulated rural small farms. It is an extension of a long running blog of the same name and Smaje, being a smallholder who runs a community supported agriculture scheme, he understands the ins and outs of agrarian life well. 

A Small Farm Future: Making the Case for a Society Built Around Local  Economies, Self-Provisioning, Agricultural Diversity and a Shared Earth :  Smaje, Chris: Books

Smaje puts forward a future where three principles are essential for human wellbeing, fulfilling and meaningful work, strong communities and healthy ecosystems and he maintains capitalism is not fulfilling our need for any of these things. To be clear, this is not a misty eyed perspective of a bucolic past of rosy cheeked farmers, or harking back to an imagined past, but rather a holistic and thorough view of where we have come from, mistakes we have made as a society and an outline of where we could go. 

Our food system is one of misery for hundreds of millions working on corporate farms and for billions of livestock. The neoliberal drive for profit has destroyed small farms and moved millions into urban areas looking for work, creating to some extent urban slum areas in developing countries. This has destroyed rural communities and created unlivable areas in some mega cities and peri urban areas. Industrial monoculture farms are destroying ecosystems and driving climate change at an alarming rate. 

Smaje argues that if production was based on a large number of small farms that produce for local markets rather than for supermarkets the population would have easier access to healthy nutritious food with small farms contributing to local resilience and based around an economy which values work, community and economy. 

Decentralisation is key to his vision with communities accessing resources from a renewed countryside. Circular flows of resources with a reduction in the need for transport. A vision like outlined here is essentially a rural counterpart outlined by Moreno and the 15 minute city. Better standard of living, better use of time and resources, more consideration for energy, waste, water, food. Access to meaningful work providing the essentials of life based on non extractive CoOps and self employed. 

This is not a call to arms or a manifesto but a well reasoned and argued possible small farm future worth a read.  

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