Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Comparison

I've decided as part of this project to do a small comparison between t an intensive small scale garden, and a large scale, "conventional" system.
Here's a picture of my neighbours cauliflower field:

The bit you see is the turning circle for the tractors, giant gleaming machines with massive tyres. Very impressive, but also very messy. I've yet to measure it exactly, but the turning circle for this field is roughly the same size as my entire plot!
I've always read that convential large scale agriculture is the way to go, bigger yields, efficient and all that. The only problem is that this is more of an assumption than anything else. Any studies done seem to be a direct comparison between a large scale organic system and a non-organic one.
Now, when i look at this vast, empty field with it's churned up earth, discarded cauliflowers and areas of unused land I start to wonder...
Surely an intensive, forest garden, modeled on nature, will produce more than a vast monoculture. The thing that strikes me most are the vast amounts of waste inherent in this process.
I worked for 5 years in the "conventional" horticulture industry, and industry it is. The search for a perfect apple leaves out at the minimum 30% of the crop due to blemishes, shape and appearance.

So what's the alternative? Well I would think to put people back on the land, instead of vast acerage devoted to a single crop, have allotments. Which is more diverse, vital and interesting?
I'll leave that up to you to decide.
Another thing that strikes me is the "care per metre squared". simply put, how much care and attention is focused on a particular patch of ground?
Picture the old geezer looking after his prize marrows at the back of the house and a behemoth of a tractor, roaring around a field while the farmer listens to cds in the cab...

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