The Green Gap

In the Cold War, we feared a Missile Gap was a strategic weakness. Nowadays, we must awaken to the fact that the Green Gap is true strategic weakness: the nations whose economies will thrive in the coming years will not be those with the biggest factories, but those with the most sustainable, efficient, and ecological markets. What we require is a Strategic "Green Reserve" of ecological design to weather the coming changes that both climate and resource scarcity will force on the international economy.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

So... How to Go about It, Then?

First of all, while colloquial, the capitalisation in the title of this post is perfectly correct. Screwed up, eh?

Yet another thing I have been thinking about for a while: what's the food production plan at this imaginary organic farm of mine? Well, so far all I've done with my life is play video games and learn how to use spreadsheets middling well, so my ideas in this regard are pretty much about as sensible as a flying tank.

But as I started saying in the last post, it doesn't seem to make sense to raise vegetables for sale. A great deal of time and effort goes into preparing a market garden stand, and even the grocery baskets offered by Growing Power don't seem to be terribly earning propositions. The amount of time and effort spent making a surplus of all variety of vegetables doesn't appeal to me as a way to make money. It certainly appeals to me as a way of making food, but in this case, it is to replace the expenditure one would ordinarily make on buying groceries - not to sell at a profit. The point was really hammered home when I saw all the different phases of preparation and cleaning and binding and packing that was happening in the video.

In olden times, you may be surprised to note, Japanese farmers didn't eat rice. Rice was too valuable to eat. It was the staple of the upper class, and the basis of Japanese taxation and currency in general was the "koku" - an arbitrary measure of the amount of rice one person would hypothetically eat in one year. Farmers are millet and vegetable pickles. It's that kind of separation of home use and cash crop that I think might be useful in a modern farm. Pick your cash products for profit margin, and use the garden to offset costs (and generate occasional income when you have surpluses).

Part of this realisation was driven home again when the girl on the video mentioned how many people want to raise all kinds of vegetables as well as pursuing "value added" products. Save all those person-hours washing and packing and preparing vegetables for market. Concentrate human effort in a smaller garden area. In theory, it sounds sensible to do the minimum necessary effort supporting the vegetable and grain operation, keep it in the tightest area around the house to minimise travel time, and make it easy to fence off areas if there is livestock around. The 100 acres isn't all to be completely exploited; I'd prefer to have five acres under active cultivation for the purposes of stocking the larder. Large swathes of land can be seeded to clover for biomass and forage. The additional clear land is for expansion of successful initiatives, not to put under production in the first (or even the fifth) year.

With the forest, several value-added activities are possible. One is sustainable forestry. Every year the farm could sell a certain amount of raw logs. The forest also could provide deadfall for a shiitake operation. The forest would also be a retirement plan, as I have mentioned before: plant ginseng in the first year, after seven years, you can start pulling it out of the ground for income in the lean times, but the idea would be to leave it in the ground as long as possible. Wild-stimulated ginseng sells for a ridiculous amount of money, more when it's older.

Anyhoo, those are the brain farts for the time being. This has been rattling around for so long in my head that I guess I take it for granted that everyone else knows the whole plan.

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