Mama Gone Green is a blog dedicated to raising happy children and reducing our impact on the Earth. My name is Taryn and I am the mother of 2 young kids and an environmental studies instructor at a community college in Portland, Oregon. Please join me as I journey through life as a mama, teacher, knitter, photographer, gardener, and environmentalist!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Farm for the Future

This week, I gave the students in one of my classes an assignment to watch a BBC film entitled A Farm for the Future. This film discusses the idea of peak oil, and the fact that our agricultural system is closely tied to fossil fuels (from the fuel for machinery to synthetic fertilizers to pesticides... all of which require oil). This means that as our fossil fuel supplies dwindle, we will have to come up with a new system of producing food to support the masses.
The idea this film presents is moving our agricultural system towards permaculture. Permaculture is a way of growing food that mimics natural ecosystems. So instead of clearing land and planting things in long rows, you design your garden in layers that includes trees, shrubs, vines, understory and groundcover. All of the plants you choose have a function, whether it is food production, mulch production, nitrogen fixer, insect attractor, or pest control. And the way you design your garden allows these plants to do jobs for each other to maximize your production of food. What this means for the humans is that these gardens take a lot of time and energy to plan and prepare (as one must gain sufficient knowledge of how plants work and interact, and then put that knowledge to work in the design phase). However, once the garden is planted and established, it will require very minimal care as plants will be there to fertilize and mulch and you don't have to do it yourself.
Permaculture can produce immense amount of food off of minimal land (as having so many layers allows for constant food), however, our main staples, like grains, do not grow well in a system like this. So, switching to permaculture requires not only a shift in how things are grown, but also a shift in what people are going to eat.
I think the concept of permaculture is fantastic, and we are actually (very slowly) turning our yard into a permacultre-based system. However, due to our very small lot size and minimal funds, it is happening piece by piece over time and not all at once. I think shifting our entire agricultural system to permaculture is still a ways off, as it would take convincing the masses to change the way that they eat, but as oil supplies continue to be depleted, we may soon have no other choice.
A great intro to permaculture is the book Gaia's Garden, which I have already written a review of.
You can currently watch the film A Farm for the Future online here, or google "Farm for the Future" and look for an available link. If nothing else, it will at least open your eyes to a new way of food production! Pin It Now!


  1. We are also trying to grow food in our yard in a sustainable way, organic, mixed plantings, habitat, nutrient cycling, etc. I wish you luck in your blog...I loved the book Gaia's Garden too! It is very inspirational. we started one a few weeks ago to chronicle our journey towards a more sustainable suburbia, growing our own food, reducing chemicals and energy...take a look

  2. Thanks for the film recommendation! It sounds really informative; I'll be sure to check it out.