Hedgerow farming re-enter stage left

hedgerow farming 3

Hedgerows if established and tied in right during the first few years of establishment make highly effective living fences. They also provide hugely important habitat for all manner of creatures, mycorrhizal permanence, insect balance, and multi-seasonal nectar flow for bees and other pollinators. Harvest of hedgerows is seen in increased quantity and quality of honey, multi-variety and seasonal berry harvest, fruit, teas and wild greens, and even with some innovation, biomass for farm or home energy.

Agroecology & Permaculture

“…the holistic interaction of society with environment symbiotically thriving by balanced natural efficiency that is optimized by intelligent design, appropriate technologies, and techniques that achieve net increase and vitality without inflicting net harm…” sumbioticfuture~2015hedgerow farming 2 Fields of large size with broad clear borders provide an efficiency factor for machinery maneuvering and obvious cut for chemical farming. Between 1950 and 2000 this was an obvious fit for the prominent agricultural model. Sadly that agricultural model was one based on massive unseen support by fossil fuels to the extent of 10 calories in oil required to produce 1 calorie in low nutrient density food (Scientific American 2011[1]). Yes that is literally, farming and industry working hard and with great pride of accomplishment to net a 1000% loss in overall resource.  Essentially, that is an achievement made on the backs of people and non-renewable resource that will not be available to our children. Where the unseen, often unspoken, loss in efficiency occurs is in the methodology of countering all the natural flows, cycles and phenomenon with strict and absolute control through liberal use of poisons, and several levels of brute force. If you have not figured it out yet that style of farming is on the way out. As with so many things in 2015, the technologies have matured and only await the perceived necessity to be put into wide spread use. A fringe outlet that takes in a small percentage of diverse naturally efficient techniques in agriculture is “Organic”, named for the hallmark goal of working symbiotically with the soil Carbon cycles or “natural organic soil chemistry”.

“…Stewardship is the deliberate nurturing care of what one feels responsible for…” symbioticfuture~2015hedgerow farming Organic agriculture touches the tip of the iceberg of efficient food, fiber, and biomass production. A broader and more holistic field is that of Agroecology, the techniques and angles of which won’t fit in libraries. Agroecology is akin to ‘permaculture’ or ‘the holistic interaction of society with environment symbiotically thriving by balanced natural efficiency that is optimized by intelligent design, appropriate technologies, and techniques that achieve net increase and vitality without inflicting net harm.’ Agroecology and permaculture fit nicely into two books; the book of nature coupled to the book of natural stewardship based human culture. Stewardship is the deliberate nurturing care of what one feels responsible for. When entire cultures feel that shared responsibility, only then can the science of agroecology be internalized and grow to maturity. So broad, wide, and diverse are the applications of this artistic-craftsmanship-science that it is and can only be a generationally unfolding attainment of local society building on the local reading of nature unique to the specific bioregion. In other words: ‘Mature, agroecology is the successful achievement of generationally increasing acumen in society for symbiotic relationship to other life systems and natural ebb and flow.’

“…Mature, agroecology is the successful achievement of generationally increasing acumen in society for symbiotic relationship to other life systems and natural ebb and flow…” symbioticfuture~2015hedgerow farming 1

What is gained in increased field size is lost in diversity of crop rotation, exponentially increasing pest pressures, and in the expulsion of all the other creatures and life that give our ecosystem resilience, beauty, and functionality. Permaculture showcases food forests and multistory perennial cropping like the cork oak savannahs and various adaptations. Some crops lend themselves to field production. Fossil fuel/chemical style agriculture pushed out the diversity in some cases for thousands of acres. Now farming has come of age. You could say that Fossil fuel/chemical agriculture was the teenage phase, sort of the prodigal son showing his ignorance so he could understand himself.  Well, no more excuses the truth is obvious, that type of farming will run us all off a cliff. The beauty and functionality of the hedgerow may now return!

[1] http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/plugged-in/2011/08/11/10-calories-in-1-calorie-out-the-energy-we-spend-on-food/

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2 thoughts on “Hedgerow farming re-enter stage left

  1. Have you read Charles C. Mann’s “1491?” I just started it – a fascinating look at recent research, science, geography, anthropology, archeology and other disciplines that have completely revised the picture of the Americas at the time Columbus got here. The land was a thoroughly human creation by longstanding and sophisticated civilizations, not a howling wilderness with savages, nor a “new Eden.”

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