Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Day 18 - Agroecology/Organic Farming

I'm skipping community night tonight and the opportunity to watch "The Future of Food". While I want to see the movie, I have a bit of a headache and need to catch up on what's been going on here. Have you seen it? It seems like my kind of movie; King Corn, Fast Food Nation, Supersize Me, and other movies that just make me so angry at the state of the food industry.

Week 4 topic is Agroecology. OK, another term that coming into this program I had an idea of, but not a real understanding of the meaning. Agroecology can be defined as the application of ecology to the design and management of sustainable agriculture/ecosystems. This is a whole-system approach to agriculture and food systems were developed based on traditional knowledge, alternative agricultural ideas, and creating local food ststem experiences (eating within region/season). It links ecology, culture, economics, and society to sustain agricultural production, a healthy environment, and viable food-farming communities.

My kind of stuff.

There are many comonalities with general permaculture principles and a lot of what we are doing this week builds on the foundation of the lectures from two weeks ago.

Some of the principles that we will talk about this week are:
- use renewable resources
- minimize toxics (eliminate pollution, especially in food production)
- conserve resources
- conserve soil
- conserve water
- conserve energey
- conserve capital
- manage ecological relationships (integrate livestock, intercrop, covercrop, manage pests, etc)
- Adjust to the environment
- diversify (landscapes, biota, products, etc)
- empower people (use indigenous knowledge, transfer knowledge to the community)
- manage whole system (benefits, not just profits)
- maximize long-term benefits (build soil, learn, strategy)
- value health (human, cultural, environmental, animal, plant)

While we have been planting on and off, harvesting, and learning about the innerworkings of the farm, this week is our real introduction into organic farming methods.

So many people ask me, 'where can we buy your tomatoes?' Yes, we are currently selling our produce at the new co-op at Beaston Hill, but that is not our priority. It's interesting. I will get into the set-up of the farm in my next post, but I just want to introduce this idea here. The goal of Creque Dam Farm is VISFI, not to sell annual crops. We grow mainly to feed the people on the farm, the people who come for Slow Down Dinners, and to supplement income. We grow people.
The mission of the Virgin Islands Sustainable Farm Institute is to provide a working educational farm enterprise that integrates sustainability in education, environment, and community through quality instruction in Agroecology and related fields.

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