Agriculture, Northland Sheep Dairy

Biochar – a Critical View Through the Ecosystemic Lens

Monday, October 30th, 2017

I have been following the biochar story since it began to gain visibility over a decade ago. I view it from the perspective of forty years of farming informed by study of systems ecology. My understanding of both of these pursuits has evolved over that time in ways that will inform this critique. I began [...]

Food Production Systems in the Decline of the Industrial Age: A Call for a Socio-ecological Synthesis

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

The sustainability of industrial food production has long been under attack for its destruction of the soil, water, air and other products and services essential to life on earth. Now the massive consumption of energy and other resources needed to build and maintain industrial society has led to the depletion of these [...]

Cities and Suburbs in the Energy Descent: Thinking in Scenarios

Monday, October 8th, 2012

This article was originally reviewed, edited and published by Tompkins County Relocalization, a group in upstate New York that is researching various aspects of energy descent.
“A city could be defined, almost, as a human ecosystem that grossly exceeds the carrying capacity of its local environment.” – William Catton

The vulnerability of cities and suburbs in [...]

Reductionist Science and the Rise of Capitalism: Implications for a New Educational Program of Agricultural Science

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

The thesis of this essay is that there is a way of doing science that is characteristic of scientific inquiry under capitalism because its methods provide the kind of “irresponsible knowledge” that a profit-at-whatever-cost social system like capitalism requires. As my title implies, I will argue that as capitalism evolved to become an ever more [...]

Implications for Agriculture of Peak Cheap Energy

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

By way of introduction to what I have to say, let me explain the evolution of my thinking. As a farmer for 30 years, I have been an active participant in the movement to develop alternatives to Industrial Agriculture. As you may know, much of the motivation for that movement was a growing awareness of [...]

On Invasives

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

What I will say here about the issue of invasives may seem picky, but it is not, because it points up a fundamental flaw in how we think about any intervention into the complex, systemic world in which we live.
The flaw running through the whole discourse about invasives is the tendency to see them too [...]

Visioning County Food Production – Part Five

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Part Five: Peri-urban Agriculture

This series of articles is an exploration of designs for agriculture in Tompkins County to approach sustainability in a future of declining access to the cheap energy and other inputs on which our industrialized food system relies. In earlier parts of this series, I proposed principles of agroecosystem design; addressed the [...]

Visioning County Food Production – Part Six

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Part Six: Rural Agriculture
This series of articles is an exploration of designs for agriculture in Tompkins County to approach sustainability in a future of declining access to the cheap energy and other inputs on which our industrialized food system relies. In earlier parts of this series, I proposed principles of agroecosystem design; addressed the key [...]

Visioning County Food Production – Part Four

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Urban Agriculture

This series of articles is an exploration of designs for agriculture in Tompkins County to approach sustainability in a future of declining access to the cheap energy and other inputs on which our industrialized food system relies. In earlier parts of this series, I proposed principles of agroecosystem design, addressed the key [...]

Visioning County Food Production – Part Three

Monday, March 8th, 2010

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Seeing County Food Production as an Integrated Whole
In Part One of this series, I proposed principles of agroecosystem design for growers to follow if agriculture is to approach sustainability in a future of declining access to the cheap energy and other inputs on which our industrialized food system relies. I said that providing [...]

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