Adapting In Place

From a young age I have been in love with plants, growing just about everything I could get my hands on. Starting in early adulthood I also developed an obsession with the state of our industrial civilisation, coming to understand how precariously it is perched on top of a dwindling resource base. Combining these two passions has seen my family move to a 40 acre ex-dairy in subtropical Australia in the hinterland hills. The block is too big for a typical hobby farmer, and too small and suburban for a real farmer.

Most modern hobby farms are exercises in turning cheap industrial inputs into heavily subsidised outputs that still come nowhere near competing with the output from professional industrial farms. Vegetables are usually grown on imported compost or manure, pushed along with fertiliser and propped up with irrigation. Livestock are sustained with feed bought from the store, even grazing animals are buffered through droughts with imported hay and sustained with imported minerals. And that is not to mention all the fencing and housing made with imported materials.

In the resource constrained future ahead of us these input dependent approaches to growing food will become impractical or impossible. Instead new systems that rely on locally adapted crops and livestock, integrated into systems that are truly compatible with the local geology and climate will be required. I have taken on the challenge of developing these systems in our particular region in the remaining two decades of vigor I have left in me. This blog is an account of this journey. Hopefully I can inspire some of you to follow in my direction and develop your own locally adapted systems.