I read an article recently about how farmers with large tractors and machinery are having trouble due the global shortage of computer chips. Farm equipment manufacturers have halted shipments to dealers because they don’t have the chips to put in the equipment. Almost every piece of farm equipment, like most everything else in our lives, needs a computer chips to operate. The shortage could last for two years.
This is an example of the Achilles heel of the big-ag model practiced mostly in developed countries. The big-ag model is designed to require high levels of inputs – everything from hybrid or GMO seed, fertilizer, pesticides and of course diesel fuel to keep the machines running. One kink in the supply chain for any one input and the whole system starts to fail – even something as simple as a computer chip. The big-ad model, like many complex systems, is an inherently fragile system; but quite profitable for the companies controlling and selling the inputs to the farmers. It was designed that way.
By contrast, local food production methods require few non-local inputs. Even Prince Charles, in a recent Guardian article describes small scale family farms as the way to a sustainable regenerative future. Local compost, green or animal manures, seed saving, organic pest control all require few inputs from outside commercial sources. It was how agriculture got started in the early history of humanity and practiced for millennia.
There has been a lot of activity in the Transition Garden this week transplanting tomatoes and peppers into the greenhouses. We build a poly-tunnel dedicated to the low determinate tomato variety Scotia, which is a time honoured heirloom. Straw mulch will keep the tomatoes off the soil as they ripen to improve quality.
Lots of cherry tomatoes – the varieties Sweet Million and Golden Cherry – were planted out into one of the domes. And, we put several types of sweet peppers (Ace and Fat ‘n Sassy) into the big lower greenhouse, where the red onions are coming along very well.
The orchard is in full bloom, making the bees very happy. They have 3 apples, 2 pear and 1 cherry to chose from.
Finally, we are now harvesting chard, lettuce, arugula, radish, collards and rhubarb.