A Farm For The Future - BBC Documentary Film

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Poet's picture
Poet
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A Farm For The Future - BBC Documentary Film

This was last aired in on April 4, 2009 on BBC Two.

A Farm for the Future
"Wildlife film maker Rebecca Hosking investigates how to transform her family's farm in Devon into a low energy farm for the future, and discovers that nature holds the key.

"With her father close to retirement, Rebecca returns to her family's wildlife-friendly farm in Devon, to become the next generation to farm the land. But last year's high fuel prices were a wake-up call for Rebecca. Realising that all food production in the UK is completely dependent on abundant cheap fossil fuel, particularly oil, she sets out to discover just how secure this oil supply is.

"Alarmed by the answers, she explores ways of farming without using fossil fuel. With the help of pioneering farmers and growers, Rebecca learns that it is actually nature that holds the key to farming in a low-energy future."
(Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00hs8zp)

Youtube: Part 1 of 5:

Youtube: Part 2 of 5:

Youtube: Part 3 of 5:

Youtube: Part 4 of 5:

Youtube: Part 5 of 6:

Or you can watch on Google Video:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2750012006939737230

Poet

 

Johnny Oxygen's picture
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Re: A Farm For The Future - BBC Documentary Film

Really great series of videos.

Thanks so much for posting this Poet.

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Poet
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Re: A Farm For The Future - BBC Documentary Film
Johnny Oxygen wrote:

Really great series of videos.

I think the British are much more aware of what's going on with climate change and peak oil than our own corporate-controlled mass media here in America.

Also, I just loved seeing the informative discussion about grass farming (20 species of grass, tightly matted), forest gardening, and permaculture. If we're gonna be able to live fulfilling lives without backbreaking labor in the distant future, we better get smart about how we grow our food.

Poet

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Re: A Farm For The Future, and some from the past

I enjoyed this series too.

On a somewhat related note, there are several bbc series that put scholars on period farms and have them live out the year working with only period technology that are quite fascinating. The series Victorian Farm is available on you tube in 36 segments; we went ahead and ordered Tales from Green Valley (set on a 1620-era farm)  from Amazon because I couldn't find it on the net anywhere. I believe they're now working on a series called Edwardian Farm. It's eye-opening to contemplate living rurally without the energy inputs we now enjoy.

 

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Re: A Farm For The Future - BBC Documentary Film

whew , makes me feel so much better about my weedy garden and  over grown  woodlands .  Guess I will just let  it go .   I can say that the natural prairie  grass  ( Buffalo grass ? )   will hold water very deep .    Although I really like pasture rotation  .

   I hated to cut down so many walnut trees but  they just would not let the garden produce . 

 The Khaki campbell ducks do a great job  but a few geese are needed to keep the snakes away from around the house .

  So much to learn !  

 FM

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Re: A Farm For The Future - BBC Documentary Film

My first exposure to Peak Oil was Dale Allen Pfeiffer's "The End of the Oil Age".  After reading that I started crunching numbers on just how much acreage a person needs to survive.  What became evident right away was how life would have to return to close proximity to the source of food and many more hands would have to be involed in production.  I went as far as using a CAD program to map out networks of farms, villages, towns, and the transport corridors between them.  In this model universe, villages were surrounded by farm acreage.  The buildings were clumped together, many with common walls.  Shelter for animals was located within a short walking distance and down wind of the housing for humans.  The real question arrises as to how to maintain a high order of culture which expresses itself in the division and specialization of labor.  That function would be segregated into the nearby towns.  Produce from the farms would be routed through the villages toward the towns and artifacts would return in the opposite direction.  Above all the salient feature of this survial strategy would be the near absense of petroleum and other fossil fuels, as we know must happen in the next several decades.  Does this mean the end of metalurgy and polymer chemistry?  Perhaps in centers of manufacture, plant based feedstocks could be converted into elastomers for bicycle tires and long chain alkanes for chain lube.  Modest sources of electricity could still work metal on a small scale.  What is obvious is that the percapita inventory of metals and complex chemiclas will be greatly reduced.  One might think in terms of reducing a 3,000 lb automobile to a 25 lb bicyle; a reduction by a factor of 120.  I for one could get by with a lot less junk!

The short answer seems to be that without oil, the capacity to manufacture much of what we take for granted will be greatly reduced.  Likewise, the petroleum based gains in labor power will no longer be viable, either.  Mass production will diminish in parallel with our ability to purchase its products.  What we produce will be more in response to our need to sustain ourselves versus the current model of novelty for novelty's sake.  Industrial culture will begin a sytem of technological triage.  That which helps us survive will be kept, that which doesn't must be abandoned, that which must be altered will be modified to be consistent with the new low energy paradigm.  More shovels, fewer leaf blowers.  The most important problem of feeding ourselves seems to be within our grasp.  The main obstacles to that are probably the systems of class disparities in power and property that have always threatened the majority of people for centuries.  Designing a low energy future may prove to be much easier than coping with the minority of power elites that would fight to the (our?) death to maintain the status quo.  Living the permaculture village life in peonage to landlords, factory owners, and banks seems like scant reward for having survived the Oil Age.  We must not only protect the viabilty of the biosphere, but we must also protect ourselves from the chaos during the coming social transformation.

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Re: A Farm For The Future - BBC Documentary Film

This is an awesome, eye-opening series. 
Thanks for posting it!

Cheers,

Aaron 

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Re: A Farm For The Future - BBC Documentary Film

Thanks, everyone!

I think this might be the kind of gentle, eco-friendly way to introduce people to the concepts of peak oil and its implications.

As an additional note, Rebecca Hosking is also the co-producer of "Hawaii: Message in the Waves" about the ruinous nature of plastics - especially plastic bags and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
http://www.messageinthewaves.com/

After directing that, she returned home to the U.K., where singlehandledly got her hometown to ban plastic bags and everyone apparently loved her for it.

Poet

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Re: A Farm For The Future - BBC Documentary Film

Poet

A truely amazing video.  She covered a lot of ground and told the story in a very understandable way.  Thanks for posting this.

Travlin 

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Re: A Farm For The Future - BBC Documentary Film
Poet wrote:

  {snip...}

Also, I just loved seeing the informative discussion about grass farming (20 species of grass, tightly matted), forest gardening, and permaculture. If we're gonna be able to live fulfilling lives without backbreaking labor in the distant future, we better get smart about how we grow our food.

Poet

Agreed. And especially the comment about the father's 20 years of observation to find the right combination to suit his land, his geography.  I think that we as people have lost touch with our natural sense of time.  We lived too rushed lives, receive instant gratification for hardly any (manual or mental labour) and are conditioned to rapid, volatile change.  I found it touching that the father's primal-scientific method had reaped the reward that he sought:  simple observation, and then a long-term trial-and-error approach to getting the mix right.

It's feels like a deep value within myself has been validated.

Have a good day folks.

Joanne.

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Re: A Farm For The Future - BBC Documentary Film

Just wondering here.  If the fossil hydrocarbon supply does, for all practical purposes, run out, what then?  My guess is the ruling elites will still want their tribute from the laboring class in some way.  They won't have cheap Chinese plastic stuff, agricultural chemicals, cars, clothing fads, etc. to sell us.  Those who dodge the debt bullet could find ourselves living off our labor and a network of favors to and from our local community.  How will they get their cut of all economic activity in a permaculture economy?  I'm thinking land rents.  Debt peonage will claim quite a few of us.  We'll end up having to make good on old credit cards, mortgages, taxes, etc.  People, those that survive, might be pushed out of the burbs and onto the land for sustenance.  They could wind up as renters, share croppers, or even some sort of indebted serfs.  So even if we don't handle money, the value of our labor could still be siphoned off by land owners and commodity crop brokers.  Even if we do go to permaculture, to maintain some sort of civilization will require some fraction of the population to continue with commodity production to supply needs that are too specialized for the average agricultural household.

It's probably not too early to think of land reform.  If we fall into a system of tenant farmers and crafts people, it might take decades or centuries to reverse.  The elite classes have always used the institution of private property as a bludgeon against the poor and landless.  We should probably start circulating the idea that property rights to land are not absolute.  The "tragedy of the commons" is a self serving myth. Land can be held in common.  The right to extract rents should be severely limited.  Remember, the elites will use any means they can contrive to extract wealth from the working class and they'll use violence to back up their claims.   We have to get creative to defend our rights to sustenance.  It seems to me that permaculture can only work where small land holders gain an intimate knowledge of their soils, topographies. waters, flora and fauna.  The must also have the incentive to protect it from commodity crop exploitation.  An overlord whose only concern is his own enrichment might not care to much about the health of the land compared to the value he can extract from it.  To survive, our economic systems will have to become decentralized and democratic.

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Re: A Farm For The Future - BBC Documentary Film

This was very informative.  It has me thinking in a new way, about my small acreage.  This was inspiring.  Like a trip to the garden of Eden in real life!

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