This is The ChangeUnderground for the 23rd of August 2021.
I’m your host, Jon Moore
Decarbonise the Air, Recarbonise the Soil!
I’ve been at this caper for 46 odd years and still feel like I’m beginning so I thought this week I’d dig around the web and find some people who are starting out on their smallholding adventures.
The Good Life
Let’s jump in and see if I can tease out some themes that might be of value.
From the Guardian comes this piece entitled: ‘Six chickens somehow turned into 60!’ Meet the families trying to live the Good Life in the pandemic
On their one-acre plot of Hertfordshire countryside, Sarah Apps and Liam Armstrong live with three chickens, 59 tomato plants and – until this morning – three pigs. “It’s been an emotional day,” says Apps. They plan to get more pigs later in the summer, and next week more chickens are arriving; then ducks and a goat, a couple of turkeys for Christmas and, maybe next year, bees. Living on their own land, and becoming more self-sufficient, had been a bit of a dream for the couple, but it took the Covid pandemic to make it happen. “You just didn’t know what was going to happen,” says Apps. “Young people were dying, older people were dying … I think you really need to live for the days that you’ve got.”
The obvious first point from this quote is the despatching of livestock. Some people will never be a part of it, others use slaughterhouses and some of us are prepared to do the job ourselves. For my part, I draw the line at cattle. The beasts are just too big for me to handle on my own. Everything else from pigs to quail, I‘ve killed, cleaned and butchered. I’m no expert butcher but the meat you produce by your own hand tastes different. I also know what the animals have been fed.
Chickens, ducks, turkeys and a goat point to the benefits of smallholdings. The many species approach I spoke of last episode, # 267 is one of the many biodiversity benefits of smallholdings. The goat is significant. Back in episode 261 I discussed John Seymour and David MacKenzie as mentors. Seymour advocates for a jersey cow and MacKenzie wrote THE Goat Bible. The point is that supplying fresh, raw milk is the cornerstone of a healthy household. The fruits and vegetables and eggs and so on are great, they really are but a daily supply of fresh raw milk lifts the dietary wellbeing of the household to new heights.
Those listeners who aren’t permitted to purchase raw milk, that would be Australia and New Zealand at least, have no idea what effect this food can have on their health. If you’ve produced it yourself, you can consume it but you can’t sell or give it away. Listeria is the big issue and people have died from it here so risk/benefits I guess.
Another example of a smallholding comes from the Small Farms magazine entitled: URBAN SPRAWL SPARKS AGRARIAN REVOLUTION IN QUEENSLAND
EVERYONE has their dream farm, be it rolling hills, in the mountains or riverside paddocks.
A single acre of poor soil on ex-research station land hemmed in by suburbs doesn’t exactly scream ‘ideal farmland’.
But for those behind Millen Farm, it was perfect.
Located only 30-minutes from Brisbane in the suburb of Samford Valley, Millen Farm started four years ago as an unbelievable idea.
Roof tiler turned permaculturist, Arran Heideman was one of those roped into the project.
After 15 years in high-vis, Arran found his true calling in permaculture and market gardening.
Again the principle of the smaller the block the more likely the cash crop will be plant based holds here. This story is instructive in that the only land available may well be run down and screaming for love and attention. In this example, Permaculture is the tool and approach used but it is not the only one available.
Biodynamics has its place too. Originally an idea for running mixed farms, ie, animal and plant production, I covered a biodynamic enterprise in Victoria Australia way back on episode 117 run by Mark Rathbone of Save our Soils. Well worth another listen. Biodynamics has seen a huge uptake in the wine industry. A few years ago I used to keep an eye on a list of wordpress tags to see what was going on in the organic world. Under the tag “biodynamic” 19 out of twenty posts were about vineyards moving to this form of production.
On the news tonight was a filler piece about a village in Sicily looking for millennials to repopulate and farm the surrounding country. Could be a thing. There’s always a redistribution of property and economic power following a plague. The rise of Islam after the plagues of Justinian knocked the Persian and Roman empires about, and the rise of the yeomanry in England following the Black Death so who’s to know who this will all shake out. I am sure though that the quiet life with more space than a flat is driving more people into the countryside and to what I believe is the most fulfilling way to live.
On that note the anti HS2 petition I mentioned back in episode 264 is still open and has reached 2/3 of its goal. So please leap onto it and add your name to save 117 odd ancient woodlands in the UK. There’s a link in the show notes.
And if you’re thinking about or even ready to make the leap into a smallholding go to the website: https://worldorganicnews.com/freeebook/ and you can obtain a free copy of The ChangeUnderground No-Dig Gardening System.
If you have any questions, thoughts or suggestions there’s the ChangeUnderground Podcast Group on Facebook. You can search the Book of Faces or there’s a link in the show notes and in the transcript over at WorldOrganicNews.com/episode267.
Decarbonise the air and Recarbonise the soil.
Thank you all for listening and I’ll be back next week.
The ChangeUnderground Academy No-Dig Gardening Course:
FREE eBook: https://worldorganicnews.com/freeebook/
Bubugo Conservation Trust
‘Six chickens somehow turned into 60!’ Meet the families trying to live the Good Life in the pandemic
Episode 267: https://worldorganicnews.com/episode267/
Episode 261: https://worldorganicnews.com/episode261/
URBAN SPRAWL SPARKS AGRARIAN REVOLUTION IN QUEENSLAND