Interruption of service announcement…And, sustainable farming? Problem solved!

Apologies for my sporadic blogging of late. I think I’m going to have to admit defeat and temporarily put Small Farm Future out to grass for a month or two (seldom a bad idea for a sustainable farm…) It seems that my paper on perennial crops may be accepted for publication by an academic journal but only with ‘major revisions’, so your humble blog editor needs to pull his finger out on that score. Meanwhile, Mrs Spudman is going on a jaunt to a family wedding in Ohio, leaving me to look after Spudgirl, the farm and the farmhouse all alone (save for a host of much-appreciated WWOOFers, on which subject my next blog will be winging its way to you, albeit not imminently).

I wouldn’t mind so much if we actually had a farmhouse, but since we’re still working frantically on building the damn thing, I’m feeling a trifle over-committed at the moment. It’s a shame to postpone the blog posts, especially as I had a couple of crackers lining up for you. Still, I want to inform aficionados of my acerbic narratives on all things small and agricultural (and I know you’re out there somewhere, both of you) that good things are in the offing. As well as the perennial paper, I have an essay coming out in October in Dark Mountain 6 which I hope at least begins to do what Brian was asking me to do, namely address the question of sustainable farming futures. And another one in August in Permaculture Activist about the troubled relationship between permaculture and science. And I shall also be writing something about urbanisation for my regular gig on the Statistics Views website, to be published in the autumn. I just don’t know how I find the time to do all this stuff. Well, merciless exploitation of my farm volunteers allied to a complete absence of a social life helps. Though saying that I shall be going to a Martin Simpson gig tonight. On my own.

So apologies once again for the hiatus. I hope the remains of the summer (or winter, for SFF’s avid southern hemisphere following) treat you all well. I aim to be jumping back on the blogwagon in September at the latest.

In the meantime, I have some other important news, brought to my attention courtesy of my brother Richard and his friend Steve: a simple hand tool is now available that can replace all the other machinery on the farm and reduce at a stroke the bloated carbon footprint of us over-dieseled Euro-American farmers. Just watch this promotional video and marvel at how you’ve managed to get by without one so far. The stirring music alone is enough to increase your productivity by a good few bushels per acre, I’d wager. All that’s needed now is for someone to devise the permaculture no-dig version.

So long for now


14 thoughts on “Interruption of service announcement…And, sustainable farming? Problem solved!

  1. That is one amazing digger – have to give them that!

    Will miss the thoughtful and inspiring discourse… but a break can help, so I’ll wait with anticipation the Pulitzer caliber posts that are headed our way.

    And when Mrs Spudman arrives in Ohio, if she’s anywhere near the middle, we can be on the lookout for her… she might need safe passage among all the cowboys and Indians 🙂

  2. Not the article but the discussion I found depressing, especially the malthusian ‘you can’t feed 7 billion without fossil fuels so a lot of people are going to have to die as capitalism collapses due to using up all the oil’. The modernist in me – and let me assume this site’s official resident, devil’s advocate position – asks: ‘can we do a haber bosch equivalent process to create nitrogen fertiliser without fossil fuels and using only renewable energy?’. The answer is yes, but as Chris would say if he were here: ‘but should we?’.

    I am a permaculturist, but I have yet to see a permaculture garden that impresses me – and that includes my own.

    • We’ll have to arm wrestle for “site’s official resident devil’s advocate” – oh, er wait… you are far closer to the home of the site… so I’ll give you this one, this time, for now… don’t go wasting the opportunity.

      So I take it you’ve head of the newer N fixing technology. I have only seen one pop-sci related piece, but if it works as advertised it should be quite helpful. If memory serves someone was saying we use 2% of our energy supply just fixing N right now. True, one might question why fix any… but I’m squarely in the fix some N – and then be careful how you use it camp (its a special camp… but recovering permaculturalists are accepted).

      • A measured response if I may say so. We do have, of course, millions of tons of human excrement floating out to sea, which I m sure could be put to better use. But – and don’t tell Chris this – I am reassured that scientists are looking at ways of dealing with depleted stocks of fossil fuels and feeding people too. Or am I just a corporate stooge?

        But accepting this technological non-organic (but green and sustainable) response as good but still refusing gmo’s makes me question whether my opposition really is one of distaste. It really might be a frankenfoods thing for me, which doesn’t bear rational scrutiny even though I’m still not going to accept it.

          • Ouch!. Comparing GM with rape is not acceptable yet saying being against GM has cut short millions of lives, is.

            I’ve no idea who she is, I came to a green position by accident, by gardening – previously I had judged it as a lot of middle class hot air – so I have no idea whether or not she was correctly quoted. There is no doubt, for me, that some of the things she was quoted as saying could be thought of as anti-enlightnenment but Europe could hardly be described as anti-enlightenment – though we have had our moments – and there is no underestimating the huge hostility to GMOs here. There is no real hostility to nitrogen fertiliser, therefore it is not an anti science thing, so if we want to be a democracy we need to be able to accept the idea that the people say no.

            Whether that decision is the right decision is a different question.


          • Give me heart? We may need to come back to that.

            So thanks for the link. Had heard of Vandana and have looked at some of her work. Have only skimmed the New Yorker piece, but will have a closer look. For now though my opinion is that if there were to be any pushback against GMO technology, it likely won’t ride her coat tails.

  3. PS, I’ve said some really, really, really dumb things in political meetings, that to this day cause me to cringe when I remember them. I was an idiot and you should just ignore what I said and put it down to high spirits. I’m sure she is no different.

  4. It’s nice to see you old devils are continuing to debate on my site during my absence.

    It’s tempting to jump in with some thoughts, but I think I better stay in sabbatical mode: I’ve been writing about urbanization all day, and now I have veg boxes to deliver…and then tomorrow we’ve got to build the rest of our house.

    But thanks Brian for those interesting links – I’ll definitely need to post something about both of those. And thanks Clem and Tom for your self-deprecating provocations. One of which is being reassured that scientists are looking to solve resource supply problems. Don’t be. The only thing worse than scientists trying to solve resource supply problems is social scientists trying to solve resource supply problems. Trust me on this. Though that’s not to say that there’s no role for scientific innovations in addressing resource problems, a subtle distinction of the kind that would be lost on the eco-panglossians but hopefully not on the higher calibre intellects who frequent this site.

    Anyway, I’m in danger of drifting into a new small farm future screed here…and those lettuces are a-waitin’!

  5. When are we going to have that (friendly) row about scientists finding solutions then? There was a bit about sustainable (sic) production of nitrogen on radio 4’s science programme the other day so it looks like things are moving a little.

  6. Hi Tom, well pretty soon, I hope. I’m now more or less back in blogging mode, and I aim to post something more on nitrogen to add to my previous comments about it ( in maybe five or six posts hence, so something for you to look forward to around Christmas! And maybe also a couple of posts about science more generally soon too. In the mean time, of course I’m interested to see your thoughts.

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