We live in a changing world where current farming models are fast becoming redundant. We can no longer afford the water wastage, land hunger and toxicity of current farming practices, as well as the negative human health impacts of industrially farmed food. We need to plan for a sustainable future, a future in which we can grow organically and sustainably; with abundant production of nutrient-rich food close to where we live, in both rural and urban environments.
In Australia, our brutal history of land management has resulted in the destruction of millions of hectares of precious topsoil. And there is no more important task ahead than to recover what we have lost if we want our grandchildren to be food secure.
Farming can and should be a way of regenerating degraded soils, rather than a way of degrading soils. To do this, we need to be more in tune with natural systems and ‘permaculture thinking’ in our design of food production systems, from the humble home garden to large scale farms. And we need to develop our capacity to produce low input, nutrient-dense, profitable and affordable food for the community.
Most importantly, we need to become more self-reliant as managers of our food-growing systems, and be able to produce our own low-cost organic fertilisers from plentiful local waste streams. By cycling already available nutrients back into the soil, we rebuild the soil fertility that forms the foundation of strong plant growth. This further reduces our need for expensive inputs and chemical fertilisers, reduces our need for watering, and redefines our practice of ‘sustainable agriculture’.
These are principles that can be applied from the rooftop garden, to the greenhouse to the open field.