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What if plant-based wasn’t the answer?

Written By: - Date published: 7:05 am, February 7th, 2020 - 123 comments
Categories: farming, food - Tags: , , , , , ,

Here’s a wonderful, short, explanatory piece from Johannesburg chef and food writer Andrea Burgener on why the environmental farming choice isn’t meat vs plant-based, but industrial vs regenerative. Burgener leads with the example of concern about the Amazon rain forest being expended to grow meat, or grain for meat production.

My take: essentially our global economy demands that other, poorer people grow cash crops to support the excessive lifestyles of the overdeveloped nations. NZ’s ecological footprint would require 2.43 planets (PDF) if everyone lived like us. But don’t worry, only having one planet doesn’t mean our lives have to be nasty, brutish and short.

In the case of the Amazon, that means chopping down trees for export beef. The current mainstream, over-simplified response tends to be that we should stop eating meat and eat plants instead. 

But as the article points out,

It’s not so much about what we farm. It’s about how and where. That holds true for the maize supplying the abominable livestock feedlots and the seed oils grown for the abominable “plant-based” burgers. And it’s why agriculture per se is not destructive to the Amazon. Some very good mixed agroforestry, which supports biomass and is self-fertilising, is practised in the Amazon.   

Livestock farming on grasslands that require almost no external inputs and regenerate land shouldn’t even be spoken of in the same breath as the beef originating from grain-dependent beef farming: they are chalk-and-cheese scenarios.

By the same token, a homogeneous view on “plant-based” foods is ludicrous. We mean well, but only our urban ignorance could allow us to entertain the notion that a glass of almond milk from fossil-fuel dependent, pesticide-driven farming that has resulted in the death of everything from bees to topsoil and water is a “green” food item. Land degradation, biomass loss and climate change are intertwined, whether in the Amazon or a savannah. Emissions are so wildly different in these scenarios that nuts and grains can outstrip meat in their CO2 production. 

A critical point here is that the push to shift from omnivore to plant-based arises predominantly from the idea that zero carbon is all we need to do. Zero carbon isn’t inherently sustainable though, it’s a way to reduce a catastrophic pollution (and while we remain within extractive/polluting systems, zero carbon appears to be very hard to achieve).

But even on GHG terms alone, reducing our carbon footprint somewhat but not enough (i.e. shifting from industrial meat to industrial plant-based ag) just means we burn a bit slower. We still burn. It’s not exactly rocket surgery to understand that if growing corn for meat production causes too much harm, then eventually growing corn for humans will too if we keep increasing our population or lifestyle consumption. Industrial cropping simply delays the inevitable.

The way we get to prevent the worst of climate change and ecological destruction is if we start to organise our societies within the limits of nature, including how we grow and supply food. Fortunately there is a significant body of knowledge and practice, largely outside of the mainstream, that knows exactly how to do that.

Regenerative agriculture, agroforestry, silvopasture, permaculture, biodynamics, food and garden forests, agroecology, and many more, are all ways humans have been putting sustainable agriculture into practice. These generally integrate animals into that system, both as inputs and outputs (fertility and meat/dairy/eggs).

If the progressive movements can conceive of a steady state economy, I’d like to see this grounded in an ecological world view, rather than a reductionist world view that still sees nature as separate from human society and economy and as something to exploit then adjust when we’re too excessive. The key point about regenag is that it regenerates (soil, biodiversity, community, economies). The systems that do this are designed to work with nature and utilise the most efficient processes it offers us. Industrial cropping is just as far from that as industrial animal ag.

By observing nature and imitating those systems, we can create food producing systems that are ecologically sound and economically profitable.

The holy grail of agriculture and civilisation.

Mark Shephard referencing Permaculture co-founder Bill Mollison.

Not sure how regenerative agriculture works? Check out this 17 minute explanatory Ted Talk from radical ‘grass farmer’ Joel Salatin.

This seven minute vid from Mark Shephard’s New Forest Farm in Wisconsin showcases agroforestry, with the last 2 minutes on how pigs are integrated into the system.

Moderation note: if you want to argue plant-based farming is better for the environment or climate mitigation than regenerative agriculture, please do better than using global stats based on US CAFO meat production that simply don’t apply to NZ and can’t easily be compared to regenag. More in-depth debate than link-dropping Guardian articles would be appreciated. Please be kind or respectful to each other and stay on topic. Also, I don’t want to see meat eaters taunting vegans, thanks. 

123 comments on “What if plant-based wasn’t the answer? ”

  1. Dennis Frank 1

    It's high time the Greens resumed leading from the front, eh? I think they've done enough compromise to have earned respectability. What's missing in their public relations is leadership on an ecological basis.

    This mix of regenerative thinking, the old notion that people ought to live within their means, public policy based on natural limits to growth, the steady-state economy, is as much ethos as policy mix. We don't have anyone in public life actually explaining to the masses how sustainability works in practice. To spread a healthy ethos requires motivated advocates. Not just political, but from ngos and other community groups.

    And the younger the better so that the media can show everyone it ain't just old hippies who know what needs to be done!

    Economists who get it, for instance. Where are they?? This is a global problem requiring global leadership, so the shift that has to happen will get driven by a new ethos emerging everywhere simultaneously. That groundswell needs natural leaders to give it shape and form and a developmental trajectory towards global coordination.

    As usual, the establishment, both left and right, will resist this shift. So the movement has to be composed of people willing to acknowledge that democracy, while always potentially part of the solution, does protect business as usual.

    • weka 1.1

      "We don't have anyone in public life actually explaining to the masses how sustainability works in practice."

      This.

      It's the big frustration for me in the mainstream climate action debate. More people now supporting regenag, but as you say not a lot of education on what sustainability actually is.

      I'd like to see the Greens support this somehow, not quite sure how exactly. I do think that we need a stronger extra-parliamentary movement as well, so that the Greens don't end up positioned by the reactionary forces as the extremist whatevers. I also get the sense that they're stretched and doing more work than is suggested by their small numbers of MPs. I'm wondering if Sage is quietly working in this stuff in the background, will go have a look.

  2. Andre 2

    There is a very basic enormous inefficiency involved in meat as food: most of the protein and calories contained in an animal's input feed goes into keeping that animal alive and walking around, and very little of it goes into increasing edible protein and calories from that animal's carcass.

    The edible remains of a cow contain about 1% of the input calories and 4% of the input protein required to raise that animal. Sheep about the same. Pork is around 10% of input calories and 15% of the input protein. Chicken around 12% of the input calories and 20% of the input protein.

    That fundamental gross inefficiency is shared to a lesser extent by animal products such as eggs and dairy.

    Dairy products have around 6% of the input calories and 16% of the input protein, eggs around 12% of the input calories and 25% of the input protein.

    Data is from a chart about halfway down this piece:

    https://www.wri.org/blog/2016/04/sustainable-diets-what-you-need-know-12-charts

    edit: this piece has a good chart showing the range and variability of greenhouse gas emissions from various food sources

    https://ourworldindata.org/less-meat-or-sustainable-meat

    • Don Miller 2.1

      I have been a soil scientist involved with sustainable land use for half a century in a number of countries. I am surprised at the number of people, I presume city dwellers, who don't understand why all land is not suitable for cropping. Large areas of NZ can efficiently produce animal protein from extensive grazing, yet those areas would not be useful for much else except maybe honey production, for which there is a limited market. Don't offer production pine forest as an alternative – it is already a low producing invasive weed in far too many areas – polluting our waterways with sediment every 30 years.

      • Andre 2.1.1

        Define "efficiently produce". The most credible info I can find suggests that producing protein and calories from pasture grazing cattle requires more land and produces more greenhouse gas emissions than feedlot cattle production. Even including an allowance for carbon sequestration in soil.

        https://www.carbonbrief.org/grass-fed-beef-will-not-help-tackle-climate-change

        As for what to do with marginal land that's definitely unsuitable for cropping, my preference would be to re-wild it. If we collectively significantly reduced our meat consumption, or even just shifted away from grossly inefficient beef and sheep towards less inefficient pork and chicken, we would significantly reduce the total land area we need to use for food production.

        Even just shifting red meat consumption to non-ruminants like horse and kangaroo would likely be a big ghg emission and climate improvement.

        • RedLogix 2.1.1.1

          On a brief scan that report relies heavily on the idea that ruminant animals produce lots of greenhouse gases, yet neglect to balance this off with the potential of new ideas to dramatically reduce these gases. For example:

          https://climatechange.ucdavis.edu/news/can-seaweed-cut-methane-emissions-on-dairy-farms/

          I tend to side with Don Miller, that land not suited to cropping (or other intensive ag) can be used for grazing animals if done intelligently. There are many examples of innovative farmers doing this really well. Arguing this land could theoretically be more productive if used for cropping makes no sense if it cannot support cropping.

          • pat 2.1.1.1.1

            so instead of deforesting the land we deforest the oceans?

            • Andre 2.1.1.1.1.1

              That's already been done. By overfishing the snapper and other fish that kept kina under control. Without that control, kina have munched away quite a lot of the seaweed that used to be around our coasts.

              • pat

                and thats an argument to add to the destruction?

                • Robert Guyton

                  The "seaweed guys" are proposing "plantation seaweed". What's hampering that in NZ is the poor quality of the water coming down the rivers and out into the costal environment. Our kelp beds have been disappearing at a frightening rate. have a look at aerial photos of these Southland floods meeting the ocean, think about what those flood waters are carrying and you'll understand the problem.

                  • weka

                    can you please spell it out? I assume there are top soil plumes at the bottom of every river catchment today. But in a big flood, forested rivers also fill up with soil and debris. I assume the composition and ratios are different.

                    • Robert Guyton

                      When farmland is "washed", weka, all sorts of contaminants are mobilised. Some don't bear thinking about. If the floodwaters sluiced out some dead-holes, for example, all manner of unpleasant "stuff" will be making its presence felt off-shore – farmers are not permitted to chuck poisonous materials into holes, but I've seen some sights. All along the Aparima River, there are "retired-but-not-capped" refuse/dump sites, filled over the years with everything you can imagine; I remember cringing at the labels on some drums I saw in just one of the 13 riverside sites, and the floods may have given all of those a good rinse this time around, who knows? Fertilizers that were recently applied, all of the 'cides we don't hear much about. And then there are the towns – were any sewerage settling ponds "refreshed" by the floods? They are laced with pharmaceuticals and other such delightful load. Cheering you up, am I?

                • RedLogix

                  Yes it could be a double edged sword, but if it turns out that some seaweed species have real economic value in reducing greenhouse emissions, there will be incentives to find ways of ensuring a reliable and sustainable supply.

          • Andre 2.1.1.1.2

            How do you feel about the idea of using the more productive lands more efficiently so that the total land area we need for food production reduces, and allowing the no longer needed marginal land to revert to wilderness?

            • SPC 2.1.1.1.2.1

              Some of the most fertile land (Auckland) is now under tar and cement – and its getting worse with infill housing and smaller sections – loss of gardens. . Then there is the expansion southward into good soil land

            • RedLogix 2.1.1.1.2.2

              I think that is happening already. Inefficient food production simply prices itself off the market and the land freed up is used for forestry or reverts slowly to wilderness. It's my understanding that land use per capital has declined by about 50% since 1960, and while this has been balanced by a growing human population.

              But within this century that population growth will almost certainly reverse and the total amount of land needed for human food production could start to drop quite dramatically.

              As far as animal grazing is concerned, I think we will tend globally toward the Asian diet model, typically plant based most of the time, but with much smaller portions of meat. Maybe only 10% of what many in the West consume, but not zero either. The trend toward protein quality over quantity will only continue to expand as the world develops.

              • Robert Guyton

                yes

                • bwaghorn

                  Did you catch the country calendar show a few months ago about the vast pine nut plantation out on the coast south of blenheim. ?

                  • Robert Guyton

                    I didn't, bwaghorn – what was your impression?

                    • bwaghorn

                      A good use for a dryland area they still had some woolies so two income streams and I guess the sheep would lower the fire risk . They just hadn't sorted out how to harvest the hills ,my guess is lots of island boys on working visas will be the route taken.

                    • Robert Guyton

                      Nice. The question of food production on dry or very dry land is an interesting and challenging one. Your mention of sheep and the fire-risk reminded that birds of prey are reported to be picking-up and dropping burning sticks from fires into unburned areas to provide roasted meat for themselves at a later date; I pictured a sheep, fleece ablaze from one fire, racing into yet-un-burned scrub in an attempt to escape…but then I thought, wool is fire-resistant, isn't it? smiley

                    • bwaghorn []

                      Only the lucky country would have birds so nasty as to set fires . And yes wool is very fire proof . It's a pity it's just about at the point were there's no market for anything another than Marino

          • Robert Guyton 2.1.1.1.3

            Are you proposing, RedLogix, that we retire pastoral farmland presently supporting hoofed animals and planting out those that can support productive plants? Leave the difficult land for the livestock farmers? A huge amount of land I consider perfect for growing food-producing trees, shrubs and vines is presently "under the hoof" – can I be on the panel that assigns these new fields one way or another, please smiley

            • RedLogix 2.1.1.1.3.1

              that we retire pastoral farmland presently supporting hoofed animals and planting out those that can support productive plants?

              Ideally yes. But it's a transition better driven by consumer preferences rather than bureaucratic fiat. And there is good reason to hope this will happen within a generation or two; we're seeing the start of it already with the dramatic rise of interest in plant based diets and the like.

              • Robert Guyton

                But, but…bureaucratic fiat! That's what Councillor Guyton is all about!

                smiley

                Good point. The market will decide.

                Yes?

          • Andre 2.1.1.1.4

            Just took another look at that Carbon Brief link above, and it has the interesting tidbit that grazing-only ruminants contribute around 1g per person per day to the global protein supply, while ruminants fed cropped feed adds 13g per person per day. So animals grazed on land that's unsuitable for cropping appears to be a negligible portion of the total global food supply.

            • RedLogix 2.1.1.1.4.1

              Yes and those numbers are heavily tilted due to North American practise of industrialised feed lot farming. In every sense it's an undesirable method that should be phased out.

              As for what might take it's place … well there are quite a lot of options. Besides I’m expecting that over the next few decades that demand for meat will decline per capita.

        • barry 2.1.1.2

          Actually ALL NZ land is suitable for cropping of some sort or other. It may not be suitable for mechanised, industrial cropping.

          I have seen cropping on land that is a lot more marginal than any in NZ.

          • Dennis Frank 2.1.1.2.1

            A valid point – but perhaps over-generalised? They grow plenty carrots around Ohakune, but I haven't seen any sign of that along the desert road & I've been up & down that often enough since I was a sixties teenager. I suspect similar local/regional climate variations apply in inland Otago, and wouldn't surprise me if other areas can't grow crops. I do agree that permaculture than make even hostile territories productive but that takes time and lots of careful tending.

          • Robert Guyton 2.1.1.2.2

            yes

          • weka 2.1.1.2.3

            "I have seen cropping on land that is a lot more marginal than any in NZ."

            What would be some examples barry? I'm thinking the hills around Alex would be some of the most challenging land in NZ. Possibly hill slopes on the West Coast. I agree that people grow in some extraordinary places. Not sure we would choose to though when we also need to reforest.

      • Robert Guyton 2.1.2

        Hi Don, good to see you here smiley

        Us city-dwellers don't think that all land is suitable for cropping, if by cropping you mean conventional management, such as wheat fields, rows of potatoes and hectares of peas. Some of us city-slickers see an integrated system, perhaps featuring nut trees, as Andre mentions, with a multitude of "crops", from grapes to sea buckthorn, growing amongst the trees. Room for animals in there too. Being careful not to over-simplify the discussion, especially representing the "others" position is a difficult thing to do, especially when food production is concerned. We all do this, I think.

    • weka 2.2

      it's a false dichotomy Andre, meat based vs plant based. Regenag produces a range of foods within systems that regenerate, and can't easily be compared to global stats based on reductionist thinking. Regenag people understand the issues of CO2 emissions and have been doing cutting edge work on this for decades. There are models now of meat production on farms that are net carbon sinks. This isn't the mass produced, export driven meat production that is used for mainstream analysis of GHG emissions.

      I did ask at the end of the post for commentary to get passed the conventional analyses. Your comment is classic reductionist thinking, which has its place for sure. Some people can definitely do with eating more vegetables and legumes, and less meat. How we eat our meat needs looking at too. And how far we transport it. All that requires reductionist analysis, but that alone is insufficient and the post is about the necessity of looking at whole system, not only the parts.

      • Andre 2.2.1

        You're waving the word regenag around like a magic wand, but failing to present any actual data on productivity or resource use or emissions from systems that meet your definition of regenag. Further, it's unclear what systems might meet your definition of regenag or not.

        Meanwhile, the point about efficiency of protein and calorie production remains. A chunk of land that is suitable for growing plant-based food for humans will feed many times more humans than if that land is used as grazing ground or growing feed for animals that then become food for humans. With much lower greenhouse gas emissions.

        • RedLogix 2.2.1.1

          A chunk of land that is suitable for growing plant-based food for humans

          Plenty of other land that isn't.

          • Robert Guyton 2.2.1.1.1

            But RedLogix!

            "Arable land (Latin: arabilis, "able to be plowed") is any land capable of being ploughed and used to grow crops"

            Andre and I (I'm assuming, Andre) aren't talking about ploughing, nor are we talking cropping in the sense implied by arable (from your link).

            There's the rub.

            • RedLogix 2.2.1.1.1.1

              Yes I'm aware of the distinction, but 'arable land' is a reasonable proxy for 'land that can be efficiently used for plant production' as you have in mind. I accept they aren't the same thing, but what my link does show is that good land is not evenly distributed everywhere around the globe.

              And there isn't necessarily all that much of it.

        • weka 2.2.1.2

          "You're waving the word regenag around like a magic wand, but failing to present any actual data on productivity or resource use or emissions from systems that meet your definition of regenag."

          That's because the basis of understanding productivity in regenag is systems thinking not data gathering, and until we are on the same page on that it's actually hard to have the conversation. We need to be bilingual here.

          But fair doos, I struggle to explain it, in large part because of that. I'm trying to teach myself at the moment to write posts about regenag and actual sustainability for people that aren't bilingual yet.

          "Further, it's unclear what systems might meet your definition of regenag or not."

          Well I did make a list in the post Andre. I use the term regenag as shorthand for a range of practices, and use it more broadly than its strict sense. You are always welcome to ask and I am very happy to have that conversation, about what it is and what systems are regenerative. I can also explain why other systems aren't regenerative, and those that might be moving in the right direction but aren't there yet. A number of other people comment on TS who can do this too.

        • weka 2.2.1.3

          "Meanwhile, the point about efficiency of protein and calorie production remains. A chunk of land that is suitable for growing plant-based food for humans will feed many times more humans than if that land is used as grazing ground or growing feed for animals that then become food for humans. With much lower greenhouse gas emissions."

          Any my point remains, the point of the post. Reducing GHG emissions somewhat but not enough is just a slower way to kill ourselves. We won't get the changes needed from switching meat to grain/legume cropping. We might buy ourselves some time, but the damage down in the meantime will be hugely counter productive.

          I think you have really missed the point of regenag and the post. The comparison isn't between cropping and growing meat. This is the whole point. Let's move out of that dichotomy. Regenag does *both. It produces plants AND meat, at the same time, lowers GHG emissions, sequesters carbon, increases desperately needed biodiversity, restores wilderness, rebuilds soil and reduces dependence on artificial fertiliser, and so on.

          None of that can be achieved with conventional cropping apart from possibly the the GHG emissions. Are the stats you are using taking into account the GHGs from ploughing? And the loss of CO2 sequestration from using annuals?

          I wonder if you are thinking about millions of cows and can't see how regenag could replace that?

  3. pat 3

    A lot of sense well argued…one question, any assessment of the population (world) a regenerative farming model could support?

  4. Robert Guyton 4

    This site, "Quorum Sense" is the portal through which regenerative farmers here in New Zealand talk with each other (and lurkers smiley about the day-to-day progress being made with the sort of farming you discuss here weka. The contributors, many of whom I have met, are very fine, passionate people and generally as sharp as tacks!

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/322014255295487/

  5. Sabine 5

    so good i had to repeat it

    By the same token, a homogeneous view on “plant-based” foods is ludicrous. We mean well, but only our urban ignorance could allow us to entertain the notion that a glass of almond milk from fossil-fuel dependent, pesticide-driven farming that has resulted in the death of everything from bees to topsoil and water is a “green” food item. Land degradation, biomass loss and climate change are intertwined, whether in the Amazon or a savannah. Emissions are so wildly different in these scenarios that nuts and grains can outstrip meat in their CO2 production.

    Short, it makes no sense going from one extreme to the next. But that is what we are doing. In the same sense as it makes no sense going from fossil fuel oil to fossil fuel lithium and 'electricity'.

    But this type of thinking gives people the sensation of 'doing something' and 'doing something' is better then not doing something right? And above all it allows us to keep doing what we are doing, without having to change the least bit about out lifestyle. And that is what humanity does not want to do, change, do less, own less, consume less, produce less rubbish, etc.

    • weka 5.1

      That's a good point about it giving people the sense of doing something. I think it gives people a sense of control too, in a situation that often feels completely out of control. Maybe the problem here is that there aren't enough options being presented. Regenag is finally getting mainstream, and tying that to the value of post-consumption lifestyles would be a logical next step.

  6. Robert Guyton 6

    Why is the position of those who profess a plant-based diet represented by the "ignorant urban" extreme?

    • Andre 6.1

      Yeah, insinuating that almond milk is a thing in most plant-based and low-meat diets is just fkn ridiculous.

  7. Robert Guyton 7

    This puzzled me:

    "And it’s why agriculture per se is not destructive to the Amazon."

    If "the Amazon" was rain-forest, surely agriculture; pasture and cattle, is entirely destructive of that?

    • weka 7.1

      I'm guessing it's a matter of degree. Regenag is being used to restore some of the damage done and giving people a viable way of making a living at the same time. People live there and need to eat. I'll bet that the issue of destruction, like many places, is the tie into the global economy and the need to export.

  8. How about moving away from industrialised farming , whether meat or plant based ?

    Instead of tinkering with the model, devise a new one

    Local food production servicing local populations

    Globalised, industrialised trade in food is predicated on cheap fossil energy (cheap in that it doesn't take into consideration massive environmental/economic consequences down the line)

    • Robert Guyton 8.1

      "Instead of tinkering with the model, devise a new one"

      There are many examples from other times and other cultures that would serve as excellent models for devising a "new one".

      • RedLogix 8.1.1

        I tend to agree; nature itself tends to re-use and re-purpose existing ideas to adapt to changing conditions.

        We already have one well proven model used in permaculture for example. The core idea is typically a number of layers, starting with intense plots of high rotation crops close to the home, progressing through zones that are less intensively managed to ideally an outer edge of wilderness if it's available. The crucial point is that each zone, while optimised for a specific purpose, is also balanced in relationship to what is around it.

        Perhaps this might serve as a rough template for how we could organise whole landscapes and societies. Cities will continue to grow and become more sophisticated, they will become more energy intense and more efficient, more attractive and interesting places to live.

        Then we could locate an intensive food production layer around them, aquaponics, greenhouses and systems relying on appropriate technologies (a rapidly evolving area already) to produce high volume, high turnover food and daily staples.

        Then in the large spaces between cities there is a blend of regenag, silviculture, and grassland based animal farming, bordering up to various types of wilderness that is both protected and valued as a space for non-human species.

        This is a pretty basic pattern that already exists, there is nothing new or startling about it. But I see it as a helpful framework to think about how we should be balancing off the often contradictory demands of human development and protection of nature. In my own local backyard I have the luxury of being able to think through the relationships between these zones for myself, and implement them as I see fit.

        What I would love to see is us getting better at this kind of thinking as a whole society.

    • weka 8.2

      "How about moving away from industrialised farming , whether meat or plant based ?

      Instead of tinkering with the model, devise a new one"

      Did you read the post francesca? 🙂 Because it's about moving beyond industrialised farming, and gives examples at the end of the new models. They're already devised.

      Agreed about the need for local food production.

      • Robert Guyton 8.2.1

        But is regenerative farming, as practiced now, "beyond industrialised farming"? I'm playing Devil's Advocate here a bit, being a supporter of those young (usually) farmers in New Zealand who are making the change, but the question hangs in the air, are they really that much different? Their farms still supplant forest smiley

        • weka 8.2.1.1

          I use the term regenag as shorthand for a range of practices. I appreciate the point you raise and after I wrote the post I got nervous thinking about what might happen as regenag goes mainstream and gets co-opted like everything else has. Hence the importance of teaching systems thinking, so that we can make better choices based in regenerative action rather than trying to apply regenag to an existing unsustainable economics.

          But we have to start somewhere and I'm not sure that we can go from industrial dairying to food forestry in one fowl swoop. I agree it's a challenge. Anyone still chopping down trees at this point needs a bloody good talking to. I live in a part of the country where there aren't many forests left, so I'm probably missing where existing forests in NZ are under threat.

          Beyond that, the only imperative to use regenag to replace forests would be for the export economy, and that's our dilemma. We have to give up industrial tourism too, lol. How will we live? 😉

          • Robert Guyton 8.2.1.1.1

            "from industrial dairying to food forestry in one fowl swoop"

            Ha! So you support my jungle-birds proposal!

            smiley

            • weka 8.2.1.1.1.1

              I do! Love me chicken stew and poached eggs and would welcome a wider choice. Always going to love a forest.

    • SPC 8.3

      What separates global and industrial trade in food from any other product?

      Ultimately the inference is that local, non industrial self-sufficiency is the ideal – not just in food, but in all things. Today's society developed around surplus food production enabling larger and larger urban environments (where factory built replaced artisan built).

      As for food, today our reality is more and more people living without access to their own gardens and we as a country use more and more fertile land for densely packed housing.

      • Robert Guyton 8.3.1

        Houses and food can co-exist comfortably. Fresh green vegetables can be home-grown no matter how small the garden – sprouts on the bench top, micro-greens on the window-sill.

      • weka 8.3.2

        We really need to stop building houses on fertile land. But as Robert says, in NZ at least, we can easily grow food in cities as well. This is largely an issue of awareness and design.

        I don't think it's necessarily individual self-suffiency. Not everyone needs to be a gardener, but having a fruit and nut orchard in every neighbourhood would change things.

  9. Robert Guyton 9

    I wonder if a forested jungle-fowl (chickens) system would suit New Zealand conditions better than a pasture/hoofed animal system? We were after all, "Bird Land" pre-human smiley

    • Andre 9.1

      According to the chart here, nuts from trees are the only net-carbon-negative commonly eaten foods.

      • WeTheBleeple 9.1.1

        I don't even have to try to grow macadamias. They are top notch food and very easy to grow. A system I'd like to see trialed on larger scale (at least from Auckland up) is macadamia canopy, banana sub-canopy, coffee shrub layer, taro roots/ground layer, and chickens. I have a wee one of these myself and I barely have to do anything to gather buckets of nuts and bunches of bananas. Still waiting patiently for the coffee to reach production (growing fast now, in the shade), and the Taro excess is sold to purchase other plants. The chooks and self generated mulch (bananas are a great biomass producer) are all the fertiliser required.

        Permaculture talks about the seven layers of a forest, but in practicality, our sun's energy is only enough for four or five layers working productively in a New Zealand context.

        • Dennis Frank 9.1.1.1

          Interesting what you say about the layers, I didn't know that. Since Mollison & Holmgren originated it in similar latitudes to us (presumably), the extra two layers must be due to the sub-continental effect on climate: more heat & dryness?

          Also, I hadn't heard of anyone growing coffee beans in Aotearoa. Just you, or is it trending?

          • WeTheBleeple 9.1.1.1.1

            Mollison was a very keen ecologist. His observations were largely taken from science, and lore from traditional societies (centuries of observation?), not a single set of eyes. When he went bush he was already a qualified academic with a lot of field experience in forestry.

            In the Tropics seven layers is entirely doable, not so much here in Temperate NZ. It's to do with total solar energy.

            Other nuts, in addition to macadamias, easily grown here (Auckland) are walnuts and pecans. When we learn what grows easily we reduce our need for inputs considerably. Those three nuts are money in the bank.

            The first coffee I saw grown here was actually in Christchurch. Some master of pushing the zones had it in his yard for a personal supply. If anyone could locate that person (was in print many moons ago) and propagate from those original plants who knows what might be achieved. Up North we have a couple who've grown coffee for local markets and also run a cafe. So they grow it, plus roast and brew and sell it onsite.

            https://thisnzlife.co.nz/growing-coffee-in-new-zealand/

            The greatest challenges for polyculture systems are harvesting of varied products at varied times; and the fact our land has a large proportion of investors, rather than stewards, in charge. Investors can't stand anything that isn't a turnkey system. They've screwed up the food system just the same as they've done to housing. They are gluttonous dullards, and they do not relent. The plan is for robots, to push those pesky workers out. This is what they imagine as progress: monocultural deserts patrolled by machines.

            • Dennis Frank 9.1.1.1.1.1

              Ah I see. I'd been thinking it must have been tropical but couldn't see how he got it from experience. I agree that nut trees are essential to resilience design and that gnosis has to become universal. Thanks for the coffee info.

              I think the investor/robot thing will work for some crops, but whether it is sustainable is the question. As long as we keep the multiculture praxis trending as a positive alternative though, people can get reassurance from it. And biodiversity is naturally resilient and forms ecosystems whereas monoculture is fragile, dependent on maintenance and human additives, and comprehension of the difference can be taught in the education system. If they ever get their act together! 🙄

              • WeTheBleeple

                Can't find the article but… there are people experimenting with a robotic system that maintains a polyculture. They're permie university types so are doing the extra work up front to bring something to market that's not only shiny, but actually groundbreaking.

                Monoculture robots – meh!

                The gardener is the greatest of gardening tools. Stewardship is more important now than ever.

                I’ve been watching a friend code a self-driving car to make decisions to do the least damage (e.g. hit the tree not the granny). It’s a fascinating world, where mathematic formulas result in seemingly moral decisions.

    • pat 9.2

      Is that a viable proposition if you consider that with an estimated human population of (less than)100,000-200,000 moa were hunted to extinction

      • Robert Guyton 9.2.1

        I reckon nuts can do it smiley

        Sweet chestnuts are making a comeback in America and the calculations are very encouraging. Amongst chestnut trees, many other foods can be raised.

        http://www.twisted-tree.net/

        • pat 9.2.1.1

          Nuts, Robert.

          I understand your position and have a great deal of support for much of it but there continues a widespread denial as to why we have arrived where we are …until that is addressed we cannot develop any sustainable system.

          • Robert Guyton 9.2.1.1.1

            We have arrived where we are, pat, because of some built-in faults with intelligence. Issues have presented themselves (we can, so we will!) At this point, we are confronted with the desperate need to make decisions, show restraint and discernment, in order to avert deep trouble. That's the issue we are struggling with, imo.

    • Dennis Frank 9.3

      Yeah, bring back the moa! 😎 I wonder what we lost when maori got a taste for it. Large bipedal excrement-producing systems, enriching the soil all over the land. I bet their were plenty of micro-organisms evolved to break it down – that didn't necessarily survive the disappearance of their traditional food source.

      • RedLogix 9.3.1

        While there is no doubt humans are stressing the natural world at present, we tend to forget that this is nothing new. Humans have already dramatically altered much of the world's landscapes and driven many megafauna to extinction long before industrialisation … and with much, much smaller populations.

      • Robert Guyton 9.3.2

        Yes, Denis, those thoughts. The topiary of the forests too, we miss; those beaks were sharp and their browsing would have shaped the ngahere significantly and there were all manner and sizes of flightless, shrub-sculpturing birds here on these islands. Regarding guano, seabirds used to burrow into the two big islands in the way they can on offshore islands, meaning we miss out on the enormous amount of sea-solids that once will have powered our forest environments. Bring back the birds! And eels!

    • weka 9.4

      Love the idea of indigenous biomimicry. I'd love to do some work on how this might work in NZ in regards to our carrying capacity. The idea of mass reforestation is already popular, so integrating with food production is probably not a big leap for NZ.

      I'm still going to want my yoghurt every morning though, sorry. Our problems with hooves here are export driven.

      What are the differences between moa and deer?

      • Robert Guyton 9.4.1

        2. Legs.

        In fact, deer have teeth and chew down harder on the seedlings, causing “desertification” of the forest floor. Ratites clip with sharp beaks. Pruning generally stimulates growth.

        • weka 9.4.1.1

          so more a teeth than hoof issue?

          • Robert Guyton 9.4.1.1.1

            Yes. The feet of the bigger Moa would have fair ploughed the place up, imo. Plus, scritching. Have you watched chickens destroy a plot of vegetables with their feet?

            • Graeme 9.4.1.1.1.1

              Also a much more efficient digestive system in deer, considerably less comes out the back and a more compressed form. Moa turds were huge, frequent and quite open so went back into the soil quite quickly. They would have had a major role in seed distribution as well.

              • Robert Guyton

                "Moa turds were huge, frequent and quite open "

                Imagine the canny Maori bird-hunter, lying in wait in a shallow pit, covered with leaf-litter, ready to spring forth and spear the Moa browsing around his hiddey-hole…

                • Graeme

                  I was more imagining the pod of kowhai seeds being deposited on the ground hundreds of metres away from their parent tree in a pile of well fertilised mulch after a good scarify by the gizzard stones.

              • weka

                Moa turd gardening, awesome. How did you know that btw?

          • Poission 9.4.1.1.2

            so more a teeth than hoof issue?

            In Grasslands the the co evolution with grazers and grasses also needs to be understood

            Grassland soils are richer in organic matte rthan are woodland and desert soils of comparable climates, and when eroded, their crumb clods form sediment unusually rich in organic matter. Grasslands also promote export of bicarbonate and nutrient cations to lakes and tothe oceans where they stimulate productivity and C burial; this increased productivity and C burial occur because grasslands preferentially exploit fertile young soils in the first flush of weathering and their soils have a crumb structure with much higher internal surface area for weathering than soils of woodlands and deserts. Grasslands also promote regional climatic drying by virtue of their higher albedo and lower transpiration than woodlands of comparable climatic regions. Labile pools of C in grassland soils and their accelerated weathering rates early in soil development may also account for increased climatic instability over the past 40 m.yr. Unidirectional, step wise, long-term climatic cooling, drying, and climatic instability may have been driven not by tectonic forcing but by the coevolution of grasses and grazers.

            https://cpb-us-e1.wpmucdn.com/blogs.uoregon.edu/dist/d/3735/files/2013/07/grasslandscooling-nhslkh.pdf

  10. Gosman 10

    I read these articles and it seems clear to me that many people here don't understand basic economics. Outside subsistence farming people will grow crops or raise animals if they make a profit. If there is demand for meat then people will raise animals. If there is a demand for maize/corn then people with grow that. You can try and reduce the supply of the various agriculture products that you deem harmful by imposing taxes on them at various levels or you can try to restrict trade in them full stop. However these solutions won't really work if there is still demand for the products and/or if there is still sufficient profit to be made from growing or raising the particular product. All you will do is drive the market underground like the market for illegal drugs such as Opium and Coca based drugs.

    • Dennis Frank 10.1

      many people here don't understand basic economics

      So they're quite similar to economists, eh? I remember encountering the principle of true-cost accounting 30 years ago and thinking `yeah, makes sense that capitalists would try to get away with socialising their costs'.

      Governments of the left and right have been allowing them to do so ever since. That's one of the main reasons why someone who is genuinely Green is not aligned with the left or right. Credibility!!

    • weka 10.2

      Thanks Gosman. This is why we have catastrophic climate change approaching, Peak Soil, mass extinctions, polluted rivers, desertification, and so on.

      I don't believe in TINA personally, but even if what you say is the only way it can be, regenag isn't subsistence farming, and there are regenag farmers making a living under capitalism.

      The post didn't say anything about taxation. While I think we should be reforming tax (for a whole range of reasons), my preference for changing farming practice is to subsidise farmers to do transition.

      Not sure what your point is about demand. People are always going to want food.

    • Robert Guyton 10.3

      That's right, Gosman. Because opium is regulated against here, there's a huge number of farmers secretly growing poppies and selling the resin in pubs. FFS.

      • Gosman 10.3.1

        It's the principle which you are failing to grasp. If there is demand for something there will be people willing to fill that demand. Many leftists (and some conservatives) have this view they can eliminate harmful activity just by controlling the supply. That never works. Unless you deal with the demand element then people will continue to make things that you deem to be socially harmful. In this situation you can argue that encouraging more people to become "sustainably" vegetarian or vegan is a good thing however that part of it is quite tricky to achieve.

        • Robert Guyton 10.3.1.1

          "Many leftists (and some conservatives) have this view they can eliminate harmful activity just by controlling the supply."

          Didn't John Key promise to win the war on "P" by controlling the supply?

          Shoulda listened to you, Gosman.

          I guess the open slather gun laws in America are a good example of how to control harmful activity.

  11. Aaron 11

    I don't think proper emphasis has been put on the point that regenerative farming sequester's carbon in the soil. This is the most important aspect of the debate but it seems to get lost in the debate about diets.

    Even if we stopped eating meat and stopped driving anything but electric cars we still won't solve the climate crisis. We have to put the carbon back in the soil and regenerative farming is a way to do it.

    I'm so glad to see this post because no one in NZ is talking about this but feel the need to keep emphasising the sequestration issue. Regenerative Farmers around the world have been doing this stuff for years but hardly anyone in New Zealand seems to have heard about it. Farmers in Australia are even looking at earning carbon credits from doing this and there is a lot of science behind it.

    Here's just one talk from a conference in Dubbo:

    • weka 11.1

      I think there's more awareness growing slowly, in part because organisations like Greenpeace are promoting regenag.

      With you on the soil sequestration (hence the Salatin vid).

      One thing that needs care is that as it becomes more well known it may be used to offset BAU emissions. We really need to shift the attitude that we can use tree planting or soil sequestration as a way to keep emitting.

      • Aaron 11.1.1

        That's a good point – and probably a harder nut to crack than just getting the word out about carbon sequestration.

  12. miravox 12

    Loving reading this discussion. I'm interested in the discussion back and forth about CC/Soil health & retaining top soil. I don't know enough about growing food though so happy to 'listen in' and learn more.

    Slightly off-topic, but how is it that plant-based has become accepted as a euphemism for vegan? Surely Plant-based means you base your diet on plants and add other things? Who changed the definition to only plants? Sounds like a sales job to me.

    • RedLogix 12.1

      They overlap a lot, but there are some differences.

      Personally I don't like being more than 80% pure. That last 20% is just too stressful and it's counterproductive devil

      • miravox 12.1.1

        That's a useful distinction you've linked to. I'm definitely not liking a diet that is possibly even more extreme than a vegan diet has co-opted something as moderate-sounding as "plant-based." It's a bugbear I have about PR language co-opting phrases that fudge the meaning. In this case whole-plant diet would be more accurate.

        I'm with you on the 80/20, mostly for nutritional reasons. If only because the co-morbidities of chronic illness are not something to mess around with.

    • weka 12.2

      Have a watch of the Salatin vid if you haven't already, he farms grass as the fertility basis of his livestock sales, and explains how this builds soil.

      I always thought the plant-based thing came about because people didn't want to be associated with the vegan movement. But yeah, there's some big players pushing both now.

      • miravox 12.2.1

        There's a lot to take away from the Salatin Video. I wonder how different his farming method is compared with the average NZ farmer. Obviously we don't have the array of small mammals that we'd want to support. I also noted is talking about the different plants and grasses that flourish for bees to pollinate etc. NZ farms appear more mono-cultural. There's a long way to go to get our dairy/beef industries towards sustainability. A timely conversation.

        and yeah, your take on plant-based phrasing was mine as well. Interesting that RL's link suggests it's veganism without the processed foods. Capitalism will change that meaning! but even then, it will still be phrase for selling a plant-only diet.

        • weka 12.2.1.1

          One big difference between Salatin's model and mainstream NZ sheep/cattle farming is how pasture is managed. This is critical. We graze pasture very short over a longer period of time and don't let it grow long. Salatin deliberately mob grazes his pasture quickly, then lets it grow long again. This mimicking of the grassland ecosystems is part of what builds the soil. He also rotates chickens (and maybe pigs?) around his pastures too, both to help spread manure, and to produce meat hens.

          Conventional grazing doesn't build soil/fertility this way, hence the need for artificial fertilisers. Can't remember what Salatin does, but most organic/regenag farmers have a broader range of species in their paddock than conventional farmers.

          NZ sheep/cattle farmers are doing a lot better than dairying, but even with them there is a push to more intensification and industrialisation, esp because of the big irrigators. Loss of fertility and biodiversity.

          There are NZ farmers using Salatin's model. There's also important critique of the Salatin model for NZ. Robert suggests elsewhere in the thread that cattle/sheep aren't our best option, and fowl/forestry works better for ecosystems. I've heard arguments that NZ soils aren't adapted to heavy hooved animals and those cause too much compaction and damage to pasture. I think there are lots of models to trial here, and am grateful we have the Guyton's food forest alongside regenag animal farmers. I'd love to see more discussion about designing those systems for NZ specifically, how Salatin and other models might be better adapted to a land that was largely forest and birds without the bison and tall grass.

          • weka 12.2.1.1.1

            This sheep/cattle farm in Southland has been organic for over 3 decades. They use a more conventional paddock structure, but organic practices and there are some overlaps with what Salatin is doing. I think this is easily in reach of many farms in NZ and could be a transition model. Easily in reach because the philosophical/world view jump isn't so great, and because the infrastructure is already in place.

            The blocks to that from what I can tell are farm debt and how the banks have a say in what happens, the lack of leadership from government and Fed Farmers, and the control of knowledge that farm advisors have. Those are substantial. Get 20 Green MPs in govt and I would expect that to change. Won't happen while NZF are the default rural party.

            https://www.organic-rams.co.nz/

            • weka 12.2.1.1.1.1

              Needless to say, that Southland farm being converted to annual crops (assuming that would even work given the rolling nature of the land) to export to Westerners wanting to eat plant-based would be a massive backwards step. Criminal in my view taking Climate action into account. NZ's ag GHG emissions related to scale and export markets, not growing local food.

            • RedLogix 12.2.1.1.1.2

              Yup. That farm is inspirational and well within reach if you aren't nailed down with a big mortgage that makes the transition investment impossible.

            • miravox 12.2.1.1.1.3

              "most organic/regenag farmers have a broader range of species in their paddock than conventional farmers."

              This. A personal observation that increased my awareness of this issue – a huge proportion of fresh milk sold in Austria these days is organic, and heading into farm country the diversity of the meadows they cows graze on is stunning. NZ paddock look very samey in terms of plant species in comparison. Also stocking rates We pretty much have an outdoor factory farming system for the international market though – big farms, big mortgages, disengagement from local preferences – while Austria farms for the local market.

              So change is slow, but there is demand.

              Another NZ farm on the sustainability path that is growing the food its environment can sustain (i.e. there's generally enough rain for grass for dairying in the Waikato). They're making as much money selling to the local market as they do selling Fonterra.

              https://www.dreamview.co.nz/

              They note that the general philosophy of the farm fits with the area (Raglan) and that context is really important in allowing them to flourish.

              So yes, your comment about the political will and leadership is so important.

              • weka

                Interesting about Austria. I wonder if it's because they've had continuous pastoral farming and so have a tradition to reference. Whereas NZ farming adapted (weirdly) to a new climate, soil and topography.

                There seem to be so many farmers getting into selling locally. If the govt got behind this it would be a game changer imo.

          • weka 12.2.1.1.2

            the birds and trees thing. If we were growing food primarily for local consumption, I can see forestry, small numbers of meat/dairy animals, perennial and annual hort all existing on the same farm as well as supporting biodiversity (designed for native species esp).

  13. Billy 13

    It takes me around three months to develop a vegetable garden on a quarter-acre section to supply enough food to supply 50 percent of what I need to live. Once everything is pumping I can produce most of what I need, even mustard. This is in a cheap rental only a few clicks away from the CBD in the major NZ city I live in. Well-planned and timed with staggered planting and care, I can produce most of what I need. The best I’ve achieved was maybe 70 percent (I still eat meat).

    I've been at it a long time and am an expert gardener. But everyone has the capacity to do what I do.

    Gardening and food production should be taught in schools. Beneficiaries and the poor should be assisted in at least the initial set-up costs, which can be prohibitive. It's a healthy, zero-miles solution to health issues and the supermarket cartels that overprice locally produced food.

    In summertime friends and family start to lose their enthusiasm for the bags of excess potatoes, cavolo nero and radicchio I deliver them. Most people don't know what to do with the latter or know how to make them palatable. That's why people also need to be taught how to cook. I grew up with the benefit of a father with a garden full of Italian vegetables before anyone knew what to do with an artichoke. I was lucky in that respect.

    I would like to see vegetable gardening, and food, seed and seedling sharing, become a part of who we are as Kiwis. It kind-of was, in a lot of ways, in the past. Every family had a backyard garden. The post-war generation dispensed with a lot of their parents' and grandparents' wisdom in the drive to be modern and unencumbered.

    Some may say that people don't have space and don't have time. That holds to a certain extent: space is to some extent a class issue. But a lot of poor suburbs and rentals, mine included, have plenty of space to grow food, more than one person needs or even a family needs.

    And if you don't want to be only plant-based, you can always get some chickens (or quail, if you are feeling adventurous).

    This is the sort of change we need to bring about, or to foster. Carbon Credits is another market that enables those who pollute to offset or pay-off the damage they do. It's still done. It doesn't stop one forest being replaced with a palm oil plantation (can you get carbon credits for those?)

    City councils need to work harder at planting large groves of fruit and nut trees for public consumption also. That might get around the impossibility of establishing long-term food resources for the poor.

    Labour (and the Greens, god bless their twisted hearts) can and should be the ones to implement this, what with their rhetoric on climate change, which I view with some cynicism.

    Note: I use no pesticides in my garden. I work with nature. I know how to control shield bugs, for instance, by attracting ants with a (real) honey-based fertiliser I concoct. The ants eat the shield bugs' eggs, my courgettes flower beautifully (flowers love honey, who would have thought) and there's only ever a few adult shield bugs for me to pick off. Of course, the ants might be a little annoyed at their end of the deal, as they have been shown to farm shield bugs for the honeydew they produce as a result of feeding on the sap in my vegetables (look it up, it's true).

    Think local and act local la-de da. Or just do it and make sure you help your family and friends and neighbours understand and profit from your knowledge, too.

    The solution to climate change is community, not the setting up of strange, global offsetting markets. Let’s make it who we are and let’s do it.

    • Billy 13.1

      You want a solution to climate change? Plant all the berms with Swiss chard.

      I’m a Bernie bro, I know, but I don’t buy this carbon credit bollocks for a minute.

      We can’t offset our responsibility. We can’t replant species driven to extinction. But we can get healthy and grow community and spread knowledge while producing zero food miles, and take pressure off what remains of the natural world.

      Get real. If what the climate change Cassandras say is true, you’re bluffing. I’m not.

      I live my ideals. Start living yours.

      Don’t have a vegetable garden and have the space for one? Don’t lecture me with climate change wank (that’s not directed at the author, but a general missive).

      • Robert Guyton 13.1.1

        Easier than we all thought!

      • Robert Guyton 13.1.2

        Thanks for the strop-up, Billy!

      • weka 13.1.3

        "All the world's problems can be solved in a garden"

        Geoff Lawton

        • Billy 13.1.3.1

          Thanks for the name drop. I will look into him.

          I've visited permaculture sites around the world. The most beautiful was occupied by a South East Asian hill tribe. A French radical on the run from the law was living with them, and was able to explain to me in broken English and my bad French how it all worked. The entire valley, which to us trampers seemed entirely natural, was managed by the tribe.

          Tree by tree he showed me how they utilised companion planting to maximise yield, with beans growing around fruit trees to fix nitrogen in the soil, and herbs planted beside the beans to deter unwanted pests. My gardening began well before that, but after that experience I took a serious interest in permaculture and companion planting. I took some of that tribe's knowledge away with me and use it in my gardens.

          Industrial living is unnatural. Gardening centres you and rebinds you to the elements. Gardeners love rain.

          Another beautiful element of this tribe's practice – and it was a small, very unique tribe – was their practice around chicken slaughter. Outside their working quarters there was a figurine of straw under which they slaughtered chickens. The act of killing was treated with the reverence it deserves, suggesting it should not be an every day occurrence. Also, they firmly believed that if you did not do the bidding of the peastraw chicken god that the chicken would come back at night to peck you awake as an angry ghost chicken.

          I think cities without eco-diversity are as unnatural as battery farms and that, should we return in 200 years hence, we might see settlements coming to resemble more of that valley and less of the Manchester shop floor. Well, I'll be dead. Unlike Elon Musk and Rupert Murdoch, who, in the wake of the first successful head transplant, will be cruising the slums of Rio for a sexy body to which they can attach their evil intentions. Rupert Murdoch with a stunning pair of knockers. You heard it here first folks.

      • Billy 13.1.4

        But gardening will never be taught in schools, in general. Encouraging community gardening to the extent I suggest would actually damage the economy, by the measure of some economists.

        Our school system is designed to produce productive individuals; individuals who contribute to the GDP. It's not geared toward self-sustainability, or health, or happiness – or the environment.

        So instead we get endless rhetoric about climate change, as if we are all helpless when we are not. It's all in our hands and everything you do and how you choose to live determines your attitude towards climate change, or environmental degradation, or whatever you want to call it. Not your f'ing opinion.

        Isn't it funny how the right wingers, so-called libertarians, never promote such solutions either. I thought they thought human freedom was in inverse proportion to the control of the state? Their left equivalents include control or domination by corporations as an equally or more dangerous factor impinging on human or individual freedom.

        Vegetable gardening is a revolutionary commitment. If it was a revolutionary act, like signing a petition, I am sure many more people would be doing it instead of talking out their asses.

        Carbon credits and other hare-brained schemes dreamed up by billionaires worried that if we spent too much time in our gardens we might turn our pitchforks on them have little value.

        The sort of apocalyptic scenario some people are putting around suggests a deeper, much deeper, spiritual and ethical and social change is needed. Should a government involve itself in fostering such a project? I can hear Matthew Hooton already, warning of the return of the Khmer Rouge.

        On a more positive note, is there anyone in Christchurch on here interested or involved in community garden projects, especially for beneficiaries or the poor? Hit me up.

        • weka 13.1.4.1

          I agree that gardening is a revolutionary commitment.

          Some gardening is already taught in schools. It's not in the core curriculum afaik, so relies on there being interested teachers, but vege gardens in schools is quite common now (and orchards I think). Enviroschools have gardens.

          https://enviroschools.org.nz/creating-change/stories/school-garden-grows-our-aroha-and-community-connections/

          • Billy 13.1.4.1.1

            I know of one in a rural area. They have the space.

            It's a great start.

            • Robert Guyton 13.1.4.1.1.1

              Keep talking smiley

              How will you disseminate your revolutionary ideas, grow your team, change the trajectory others are on? You're like an invasive weed smiley

              • Billy

                I expect I will join some sort of community gardening group… That will probably be the extent of it! I'm unlikely to be setting up by own school and shutting down bad environmental or resource related labour abuses, etc, all on my own, am I?

                • Robert Guyton

                  Well, commenting here can have the effect of amplifying your effect; I expect it has already. Broadcasting a valuable message, as you have here, is a very powerful contribution, in my opinion.

                  • Billy

                    That's nice of you to say, Robert! I appreciate that.

                    It is something I really believe in. I don't expect everyone to do 2 hours in the garden every day under orders or not, but expanding existing community garden projects especially for people who are nutrient and cash poor is something I'd love to get involved in. A lot more useful than my ranting against the DNC, that's for sure.

                    And gardens are so useful for classrooms. Biology, chemistry, the environment… I hope with any new climate change curriculum that the kids will be getting their hands dirty. And taking those veges back home to mum and dad.

                    Thanks again.

    • Robert Guyton 13.2

      yes

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