Friday, August 19, 2011

Future Farmers: Preparing the Land for a Post–Peak Oil Society

by Adam Regn Arvidson, from Landscape Architecture Magazine, July-August 2011, on UTNE Reader: The Best of The Alternative Press, at:

Ben Falk is growing rice in Vermont. In the fall of 2009 he carved two flat paddies into a hillside above the Mad River Valley, then excavated a small pond at the top of the hill. The pond catches rain and meltwater from the upper part of his 10 acres.

Three ducks, which provide eggs and eat the slugs that would otherwise overwhelm his vegetables, often use this pond as their bathroom, so the water is rich in nutrients. It also gets a lot of sun, so it’s warm, like bathwater. A simple garden hose brings the water downslope to the rice paddies, keeping them wet and mucky.

Last July, the rice was bright green, obviously thriving. Falk says he’ll get about 150 pounds of brown rice from these two paddies, enough to take care of the grain needs of a family of four for a year.

He also has berry bushes, fruit trees, vegetables irrigated with rainwater, and natural fences of black locust that can be cut for firewood. Portobello and shiitake mushrooms grow on the downed trees in the woods, and sheep graze just about everywhere, herded from field to field with portable wire fencing.

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