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Letter: A Low-Tech, International Solution That Can Integrate All Sectors

Peter Dudink

17th December, 2009

Large-scale mobilisation of the poor, unemployed or prison population into ecological farming will help everyone

Dear Editor

I was glad to read your article "Copenhagen: peasant farmers can save the planet." However, the implied vision of global South farmers saving the planet from the global North is not palatable and hardly sustainable.

Nevertheless, I think the peasant farmer solution is a good one, and can have broader application and solve more than climate change.

Consider: In the U.S. alone, prisoners and persons on parole or on probation number over 7 million; persons in danger of losing their homes number in the millions; and, the unemployment number is above 15 million.

And, these numbers are growing in most of the developed North.

What to do with all those millions of people while the biosphere is under assault, while desertification and drought are taking a toll on agriculture, while peak oil is predicted to ruin the industrial agricultural model, while an ailing economy cannot continue to subsidise agriculture?

Let us take a few weeks to train those millions of unproductive northerners to grow food in desert-like conditions using permaculture or agroforestry techniques, what Ed Hamer termed "ecological farming."

And let our soldiers help build swales, cob or adobe houses, and temporary wells. The crime rate will plunge, wars will cease, desertification will be stopped in its tracks and reversed, carbon points will be scored, and the participating farmers can be taxed in the form of an organic food tax that will feed millions of 'normal' workers.

During the Great Depression, a similar project was begun and later abandoned in the drought-ravaged U.S. south. This time is different. We are not facing droughts; this is something more permanent, something that will not be solved by countries desperate to protect their economies in Copenhagen.

What we need is a large-scale mobilisation of human labor to re-green the growing moonscape.

Why not? Gardening has become a popular hobby, and its therapeutic effects on the mind are recognised. So, if a large-scale gardening solution can address climate change and others problem too, what is holding us back?

Peter Dudink
A former Dutch citizen living in Burlington, Ontario, Canada

 

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