Sustainable Food & Farming Systems. Some thoughts on agricultural ecosystems.

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1 Sustainable Food & Farming Systems Some thoughts on agricultural ecosystems.

2 Sustainability is. providing for the NEEDS of ALL people alive today, without jeopardizing future generations.

3 A sustainable form of agriculture must be. Economically viable Environmentally sound Socially just

4 The Sustainability Triangle Social Equity The quest for sustainability Economic Environmental Vitality Integrity

5 UMass Sustainable Ag Class PLNTSOIL 265 Fall Semester

6 Environmental Sustainability Biological fertilizer Integrated Pest Management Renewable energy

7 Biological fertilizer green manures for fertility

8 Biological fertility Got Earthworms?

9 Biological fertility Animals cycle nutrients

10 Cows provide a bit more manure

11 Ecological Insect Management Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

12 Renewable Energy Biodiesel fuel

13 More Progress on Environmental Sustainability 1. Compost for fertility 2. Pastures to feed animals & soil 3. Cover crops used 4. Legumes for nitrogen 5. Windbreaks 6. Conservation tillage

14 What about economic sustainability? Are you in debt? Are you making a profit?

15 Borrow or repair? Keeping up with the neighbors

16 Going Retail

17 The food in the US travels an average of 1300 miles and changes hands a half dozen times before it is consumed. The Packer, June, 1992

18 More Progress with Economic Sustainability 1. Equipment is used and repaired 2. Yields are good 3. CSA provides money for investment 4. Interns can trade work for education 5. Farm supports other farm businesses 6. No waste

19 So is social justice important to you?

20 Where is the diversity?

21 Where is the opportunity?

22 Where are the good jobs?

23 Who is making a profit?

24 U.S. agriculture is industrial

25 Sustainable farming. involve the neighbors!

26 U-Pick means You are involved

27 The farmers are your neighbors

28 The kids are involved.

29 Farm meetings..are fun!

30 It takes a village. Community Supported Agriculture

31 More Progress with Social Sustainability 1. Donate food to the Food Bank 2. Working with apprentices 3. Pleasant environment 4. Healthy employees 5. Vacation time for family 6. Simple living 8. No machine noise 9. Farm products stay local 10. Supports neighbors

32 So what s not sustainable about agriculture today? Well, lets ask There is plenty of food - isn t there? We ve cleaned up the environment - haven t we? Farming is hard work nobody really wants to farm - do they? There will always be enough food for me - won t there?

33 Is agriculture economically viable? Well million farms Today 2.1 million farms with 1.3 million part time McDonalds increased from 1000 restaurants in 1968 to 28,000 today, with 5 new ones each day The suicide rate among farmers and ranchers is 3X national average

34 Is it environmentally sound? Well Chemical fertilizer use has increased 10X since 1950 The Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico from nitrogen fertilizer

35 Is it safe? Are we eating what we want to be eating? What exactly are we eating?

36 Well, maybe.. Food The twelve most contaminated fruits and vegetables. Rank Crop 1 Strawberries Bell Peppers (tie) Spinach (tie) Cherries (USA) Peaches Cantaloupe (Mexico) Celery Apples Apricots Green Beans Grapes (Chile) Cucumbers 117 Score (200 = most toxic) Source: Environmental Working Group, compiled from FDA and EPA data

37 Is it socially just? Farm workers Health care Meatpacking plant workers Injury rates Fast food workers 3.5 million with a turnover rate of %/yr

38 Agriculture Did you know that. Eighty-four percent of farm household Eighty-four income comes percent from of off-farm farm household sources income comes from off-farm sources Fifty-two percent of farm workers in Fifty-two the US are percent illegal of immigrants farm workers in the US are illegal immigrants Center for Sustainable Systems, University, Ann Arbor, Michigan

39 Did you know that. The Economics 20 cents of every dollar spent for food in 1996 went back into the farm (In 1975 it was 40 cents) Americans enjoy an abundance of cheap food. We spend about 10.7% of our disposable income on food. This is far lower than most industrialized and nonindustrialized countries Center for Sustainable Systems, University, Ann Arbor, Michigan

40 And lets look at the future Population Water Soil Oil

41 Human History

42 Water Shortages Today Major global problem areas

43 Water Shortages in the US We are pumping down geological water reserves which are not being replaced. Agriculture consumes about 85% of fresh water in the U.S.

44 Soil is running away! About 75% of US topsoil has already been lost. If you stepped from the original prairie to an Iowa corn field today, it would be a 6 foot step down.

45 And the big one! Humankind expends in one year an amount of fossil fuel that it took nature roughly a million years to produce.

46 Is that all? No, but its enough to make the point. The way we grow food in the United States is not sustainable.

47 We are a non-sustainable society Food production, land use, water use etc. are part of a larger problem affecting every aspect of our lives, including: Energy use Waste handling Pollution Population and on and on..

48 But how do I know if its sustainable? Ask. Is it cyclic? and. Is it solar powered Is it equitable?

49 Two paradigms Industrial Agriculture = linear Sustainable Agriculture = cyclic

50 Industrial System A Farm

51 Industrial System Fertilizer Sunshine Pesticides A Farm

52 Industrial System Fertilizer Sunshine Pesticides A Farm Fertilizer Food Pesticides

53 Industrial System A Farm is a factory

54 Cyclic System Sunshine A Farm Food

55 Cyclic System - nutrients cycle A Farm

56 Cyclic System bugs eat bugs A Farm

57 Cyclic System A Farm is an ecosystem

58 Industrial Agriculture is Efficient in the short term Provides relatively cheap food at what cost?

59 Can we consider agriculture sustainable if.. one child is hungry?

60 Isn t it successful?

61 2003 Census Data 2.1 million farms in US ($ > 1,000) 940 million acres But where are they? Two-three tenths of 1 percent in MA 6 percent in Northeast (NY & PA) 37 percent in the Midwest 42 percent in the South Rest in the West

62 Industrial Agriculture video

63 Sustainability requires more eyes per acre Got Earthworms?

64 Is agriculture in New England sustainable? Not yet, but Lots of local products Mostly environmentally sound Relatively healthy economically Lots of experiments to improve Good but could be better, especially Conditions for migrant labor Use of fossil fuels

65 Is the US food system sustainable?

66 What do you want?

67 Grapes from Chili Tomatoes from Mexico Lettuce from California Apples from New Zealand

68 The food in the US travels an average of 1300 miles and changes hands a half dozen times before it is consumed. The Packer, June, 1992

69 Foodshed The flow of food from an area where it is grown to the place were it is consumed The Wisconsin Foodshed Project,

70 You are having it your way!

71 You can help!

72 Challenges to buy local Difficult climate to grow Urban populations are disconnected Price Convenience Social equity Fair Trade

73 What else can I do? Demand local foods in the dining halls Don t take more than you can eat Avoid fast foods and.

74 And Know a local farmer Know where your food comes from Grow your own Take kitchen wastes to a compost Make a worm compost in your kitchen

75 To learn more.. PLNTSOIL 265 Sustainable Ag Fall PLNTSOIL 290S Sustainable Living -Spring

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