Monday, 27 July 2009

Discussion panel on peak oil in Ludlow

On the 21July I took part as a panel member in the discussion on Peak Oil and the implications for future food production.

I thought it may be of interest to copy my notes fro the evening as follows:

To decide what we need to do in the future we need to make a stab at what the future holds. We have three forces acting on us affecting how we can produce and distribute food.
1. Peak Oil, we have passed the point of peak oil, oil based products can only get more expensive from now on.
2. Global climate change, affecting the range and quantities of food we can produce.
3. A financial system based on commodity speculators and globalised food companies.

All of these interact affecting increasing climate change, social stability and food availability. The Chaos theory tells us that when three or more variables are acting together that the outcome cannot be predicted.
What we can do however is see the way general trend is heading. This is of finite resources and an increasing demand for food . Also increasing domination of food production and distribution by multi national organisations such as biotech/pesticide manufacturers, supermarkets and the major oil companies.
We as a community have a choice, these forces are not inevitably going to take control of our lives but we must use the power we have to control what happens now.
The choice as I see it is between a globalised mono cropping system based on input of petrol chemicals, commodities and large scale distribution and a localised poly cropping food system with local production and sale of food. Reliant not on petro-chemicals and the road haulage industries but on local farmers and retailers providing the bulk of our food needs.

Kisinger said: Control the oil and you will control the country, control the food and you will control the people.
I believe we are facing a time when multinational companies are actively taking control of our food supply by supplanting poly-cropping agriculture across the world with mono-cropping systems reliant on petro-chemicals, genetically modified crops and massive food distribtion businesses.
To quote Dr Vandana Shiva "Globalised mono cropping does not produce more food it produces commodities" These then are sold on the international market to the largest investor and used according to the needs of the most wealthy in the world. A system incidentally which produces losses of 50% of food produced.

I believe that in the future a sustainable system will be one that uses methods of crop rotation providing nitrogen using legumes, pest and weed control with organic methods and local low input distribution systems.
Small scale food production using organic or similar systems.
Farmers and local markets for retail of local foods wherever possible.
Sale of imported foods limited to those that can be transported by sea and which cannot be grown locally.

In short we should take back control of our food and our agriculture.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Beetroot and spinach

Having just finished clearing the paths between the beds I took the opportunity to assess how the spinach and beetroot we doing.

Spinach is a fast growing crop and has been producing a harvest for several weeks now. On average we can take three complete cuts from each bed. This bed is on it second cut, so we will be sowing a follow on crop next week to take us into the autumn and through to early spring.All our beetroot are sown in modules before being planted out through the biodegradable mulch. This eliminates weed competition (except for weed in the paths) and protects the roots from mice as they develop.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Onions and Leeks

The Alliums , onions and leeks are all planted and established. They are all planted through a biodegradable mulch which controls weeds and prevents soil water loss. The paths are sown down to white clover but in the first few weeks a lot of weed will grow. This if unchecked will suppress the growth of the crop. We therefore mow down each path to reduce competion.
The onions are doing OK and as seen below they are just starting to bulb up now we are past the longest day.
Onion beds with the paths tidied.

Leeks now starting to grow away, they are a bit late as we had a chicken attack on our seed beds this year, we therefore had to so 2,000 in module trays. They do OK from modules but we find that establishment and growth rate are reduced.

Monday, 6 July 2009

All sheep sheared at last

One of my biggest concerns this year has been the shearing of our small flock. we have a total of 30 ewes and wethers on two sites. This year Trevor came to our rescue and brought his aged dog Joe along to get the sheep in. This he did without a command from Trevor and was almost too early as we were still setting up the pen.

We did get them all contained, this is part of a contingent of 20 hoggets due to be sold as mutton in the Autumn

We were very pleased with the job Trevor did, he was very gentle and didn't cut them at all and the sheep were relaxed throughout . We trimmed feet and moved them to a new field at the same time. It was a late finish but we were relieved to have the job finished and the fear of fly strike has diminished.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Millie grows

Our young sheep dog is growing well, now at 5 months she is just starting to take commands and shows interest in sheep.I'm thinking of introducing her to sheep over the next four weeks or so, I just need to make sure that the sheep I use are used to dogs to avoid any chance of putting Millie off sheep for good by getting butted.
Not sure what's going on with those ears, one day they both looked pricked the next both down then one up one down.