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Monday, November 29, 2010

The Future of Farming

Rebecca Hosking's "Farm for the Future"

I was browsing the videos posted at Tricycle Gardens' media library and came across this 48 minute documentary by Rebeca Hosking, a wildlife photographer who grew up on a farm in Devon, England.

It's a visually lovely and compelling look at the predicted peaking of the fossil fuel boom, and the effect of declining availability of fossil fuel on current methods of farming. The idea is that we will transition from fuel surplus to fuel shortage sometime in the next 2-10 years, with the fossil fuel age slowly declining over the next 100 years, about the period of time over which we've enjoyed the burgeoning of the fossil fuel age up to now.

I enjoyed the early bit where Rebecca looks at a sandwich, the kind you buy for a couple of bucks at a convenience store. She explains how fossil fuel is necessary to production and shipping of each bit of that sandwich, and doesn't even point out the fundamental petroleum origin of the plastic packaging.

This brings me back to the reason why I want to figure out a system that almost anyone could set up - to make it possible for millions of folks (specifically Americans) to create millenial "victory gardens" from readily-available materials.

As for supplying the needs for fuel for vehicles, I enjoyed this video on production of algae, which in open pond culture can produce an astounding 20,000 gallons of oil per acre per year (compared to a mere 18 gallons per acre per year for corn). The vertical grow system seems like it could be much more productive than open pond culture:

Culture of algae to be refined into carbon based fuels

I look forward to seeing how all this evolves over the next decade. I predict many will be taken unawares - living at the edge of their finances and relying on modern conveniences to meet the requirements of their lives.

But I doubt there will be world-wide apocalypse as sometimes projected. Personal discomfort, but not collapse of civilization.


  1. Hi, Meg,

    My name's Jake, I'm an aquaponics enthusiast from montreal who is very interested in your project, since I'm hoping to create a similar setup of my own in the near future. I just wanted to say thank you for posting the documentary. It's quite good.

  2. Thanks, Jake! I apologize for not noticing your comment for so long - I think I've changed the settings so I get notified when folks post, but it would have been well after November...

    I've got my tilapia now (tiny little guys) and now I'm working on doing an outdoor system (with catfish, blue gill, redear, catfish, and minnows). Don't know if you'd want to do anything outside, as far north as you are. But I'm thinking an inexpensive greenhouse might make an outdoor system viable for me, down at 39 degrees north of the equator.