Responding to the Wider Call
As of Autumn 2018 I’m re-naming this blog. The call of the land is stronger than ever, of course, but there are other calls to heed, certainly including the calls arising from the many millions of storm-tossed, displaced, and hungry human beings. As we reckon with compromised land, air, and water, and as climate chaos intensifies, the calls merge into an overpowering chorus. Thus, in keeping with the theme of my latest book – Deep Agroecology: Farms and Food at a Cultural Crossroads (2019) – I’m adding deep agroecology to this blog’s title.
My intention in writing about deep agroecology is first to explain to a general audience what agroecology already is (clean farms and food) and to embed the concepts and practices more purposefully in the public mind. The deep agroecology perspective offers emphasis to a subtle dimension of this, a realm of critical mystery and relevance.
A second reason for writing is to again make available – as many communicators have done over the millennia – a reminder that inspiriting yourself and then caring actively for the earth and the sustenance we derive from it is a high, noble, and heroic calling. It’s especially gallant at this juncture of time and circumstance.
Agroecology is a cleaner, healthier, and more egalitarian approach to agriculture, an approach that’s rooted in ecology and other sciences. Although to date the term has not been widely used or understood in America, agroecology has become a buzzword and a leading-edge concept internationally. The basic idea is an approach to farming and food that is clean, sustainable, and just.
In my conception, deep agroecology is our next natural, intelligent, and necessary evolutionary step. Deep agroecology arises from recognition that the way we farm the land will determine the destiny of life on the earth. As a philosophy and an approach, deep agroecology strives to marry the subtle spiritual realities of human beings and planet earth into a balanced relationship with the gross physical realities of farms, food, and flesh. Deep agroecology is a philosophical guide to survival, with intimations of destiny and activation of our spiritual potential as individual human beings who are among the collective inhabitants of our earth.
I write for all humanity, not just for farmers. The challenges we face are beyond the capacity of that small segment of our population, about one percent in North America. The challenges require us all to step up to higher, more inspired, and dramatically cleaner and stronger systems of tending the land and growing the food which sustains us. We must do it together. Farms are the foundation of our civilization. That civilization is fragmenting. In light of this reality, we must be about the work of building a new agrarian foundation. This is a high and urgent mission for the Americas and for the world.
The union of native wisdom ways with the sophisticated, sustainable tools and techniques of Western civilization is a process which can – and necessarily must – lead to the renewal and the elevation of all forms of life on this continent and planet. They key to this union and renewal lies in the realm of farms and food. Deep agroecology is a concept intended to help turn that key, allowing us to enter more fully into the potentialities that lie with individuals and communities. It’s imperative that we do so.
In deep agroecology I see an essential story, a story which can inform the general public about the agricultural issues underlying so many of our current challenges, and the creative, healing agroecological pathways people are pioneering in response. With the theme of deep agroecology, I hope to anchor those understandings more firmly throughout the Americas by showing how the deepest roots of our land can help support the agriculture which underlies the whole of our culture.
In the months and years ahead, though this blog and through my book, I’ll have more to share about deep agroecology in response to the call of the land, the animals, the plants and the people. – S.M.
P.S. – The original 2009 essay for this space, Contemplations on The Call of the Land, follows:
Contemplations on The Call of the Land
Copyright 2009 – by Steven McFadden
In Jack London’s classic novel The Call of the Wild, the alpha dog Buck faces a moment of truth in response to nature, as he stands amid the towering trees of a Northern forest. He must make a choice about the direction of his life.
Similarly, standing both individually and collectively on our earth, we human beings also face a moment of truth. Our call is not from the wild, but from the land. We must make a choice.
Impending matters of finance, transport, oil supply, climate stability, water availability, and diet, necessitate—right now—a clear, visionary look at our relationship with our land and an immediate wholehearted response.
Worldwide, agricultural and financial systems are mutating at breakneck speed. More change is coming. That is certain in response to fundamental shifts in the global economy and environment. These changes impact not just food cost, but also food quality and food availability.
On our land and within the context of our economy, we have commenced a transition the likes of which few are prepared for, but to which we all can respond with intelligence to attain clean, stable and enduring results.
The call of the land is exceedingly loud and urgent. In response to the call, we have the possibility of manifesting a renewed agrarian foundation for our global human culture that is rooted in experience, adapted to the specific, contemporary needs of our earth, oriented to the future, and capable of integrating high-tech, sustainable energy, tools, and practices. This is the basic vision articulated in The Call of the Land.
The transition to a food system free of fossil fuels is in no way a utopian reverie. It is, rather, an immediate, immense, and unavoidable challenge that calls for unprecedented levels of creativity at all levels of society. While there is no single remedy for the many problems affecting our farms and our food, there are many positive paths and possibilities.
The encouraging news is that the movement toward clean, local gardens, farms, and food is already well underway and gaining momentum as old economic forms wobble and shift. We already are beneficiaries of a great number of positive agrarian developments. Sustainable initiatives have been coming forward for over 60 years, building steadily on the agrarian traditions of earlier centuries. By now we have a host of workable models that individuals, communities, corporations and networks can learn from and emulate.
The economic and natural worlds are mutating around us. Inescapably, immediately, we must mobilize our strength, will, and intelligence on the essential matter of producing clean food for ourselves in a way that stabilizes and heals the land. This is the most basic and necessary idea of 21st century agrarianism.
While there may be no single remedy for the many challenges we face, there are many possible pathways that lead to healing the land. My intent with The Call of the Land is to help illuminate some of those paths by surveying the work of 21st century agrarian pioneers to reveal the many ways a sustainable agrarian foundation can serve the fragile high-tech, digital-wave culture that is emerging so dynamically in our world
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Copyright 2009 – by Steven McFadden