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GSR Newsletter Final Issue October 2013


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GSR Newsletter Final Issue October 2013

  1. 1. GSR's Newsletter is a collection of news, reflections, innovations and ideas that our team has found important enough to write down and share with you. We hope you'll be as excited as we are with all the latest developments around the world and what it means for us all. GSR Newsletter Final Issue October 2013 Editor’s Letter Dear GSR Newsletter Subscriber, Due to the lack of success from GSR’s crowdfunding campaign, we’ve had to go through a serious restructuring in our organization. This will regrettably be the last newsletter that GSR will be publishing for a while. Additionally we will be moving all materials from our website to our blog: All of these changes are due to tight budget constraints, which we hope to resolve soon. In the meantime please note that we will continue to provide you, in a timely fashion, the very best information on agriculture, rural development, innovations and sustainability through our monthly blog posts and daily social media connections. Join us today on Facebook and Twitter. Sincerely, David Dawes, CEO Green Self Reliance, Inc. Family Farming There has been a major shift in the way internationaldevelopment community views successful agricultural programs. Focus has shifted away from capital input towards supplementing the family farm model. This paradigm shift focuses on the strengths of rural communities in the developing world. The family farm is the bare bones unit of the communal farming model and presumes a set area has at its immediate disposal a lot of cheap labor but a lack of capital. Communal farming is beneficial for small farmers since it permits family and neighbors to create a network to pool labor and resources wherever and whenever it is most needed. This is a model that substantially benefits the local economy and society and is the most cost-effective development route for rural communities. Why are family farms successful as a model for communities that lack capital? GSR has pondered the relationship between this model and optimal success and we’ve asked the experts about their thoughts. Family farms have several advantages that mechanized plantation sized farms in developing nations cannot
  2. 2. advantages that mechanized plantation sized farms in developing nations cannot offer: · Reduced overhead – Small farms can become highly profitable without the extremely high overhead costs represented by large scale mechanized plantations. Small farms can make their own organic pesticides and fertilizer at almost no cost. Instead of expensive farm equipment, small farmers can achieve high productivity using draft animals and hand tools. Distance, travel time and transportation costs from the workspace to local markets is reduced to nil. Thereby locally grown organic crops are highly price competitive in local markets since transportation costs will continue to increase dramatically in the medium to long term, the advantage of local sourcing of food will increase in importance. · Stable employment – There is little need to develop sophisticated programs to enhance worker productivity. The independent small famer works for self-interested benefits – like a small business and more income. Small farm families are closer knit work groups because they must cooperate to build their small farm into a viable enterprise. Home life and work life are also one and the same. · Reduced crime rates – On a small farm, work life and family life are one and the same, leading to less role conflicts. When the agricultural sector is dominated by large scale plantations, workers tend to be seasonal and migratory – going wherever the harvest comes next. Small farms therefore lead to a stronger social fabric. · Less pandemics and STDs – giant factory farms have labor or workcamps which concentrate high density populations in decrepit conditions. Family farms dispurses workers in terms of kin and nuclear family relations, housing is well apart and far less squalid than workcamps. · Built in labor incentives – Small farmers enjoy far better working conditions than plantation seasonal laborers. This enables small farmers to work longer hours (related to time and distance for travel, but also includes other incentives) · Higher annual income – GSR’s small farm cooperative experience corroborates increases income. Organic farming practices tend to be labor intensive (which means they are well suited to small farms than to plantations) but at the same time, result in a greater crop productivity and profitability per acre. The family farm model can sidestep many of the hurdles associated with conventional models of the factory farm. Its low input farming approach makes for sound sustainable practices while its greater social cohesion and group solidarity within a rural community, reduces the stress of workload and gives farmers a more satisfying sense of fulfillment in life. Sustainable Restorative Agriculture (SRA) As recently as 100 years ago many festivals revolved around farming, and it was among the primary sources of cultural heritage and enrichment. Now the small family farm is little more than a distant memory. Industrial sized and highly mechanized plantations have taken root and use unsustainable means to drive food markets for the quickest buck and the lowest cost. This leads to depletion of nutrients in soil, inevitably turning breadbaskets into wastelands. This vicious cycle must stop or human civilization is doomed on a collision course to self-destruction. Every year millions of more small family farms are losing the battle and leaving the farm that their great grandparents derived a good living and a happy life. GSR is dedicated to empowering small family farms around the world to outcompete the conventional agri-business model with many post-industrial innovations in techniques and technologies that can make farming on the same plot of land
  3. 3. almost indefinite. Long lasting prosperity can only be won through adaptation of sustainable restorative agriculture methods. GSR uses a hybrid approach to ensure that small family farms not only sustain agricultural productivity but steadily improve fertility of soil. These techniques are tried and tested cost-effective agricultural innovations, (techniques and technologies) from around the world including permaculture, organic farming, appropriate technologies and restorative agriculture. All of these methods of farming have a common vein of trying to complement naturally occurring processes and work well with budgetary constraints of small family farms, especially in the developing world. Permaculture is the result of a movement that began in the 1970’s when Australia began experiencing drought conditions. Most of the farming techniques are meant to conserve water and allow of robust harvests. Overtime permaculturalists have began experimenting with other ways to improve farming all around including techniques to decrease soil erosion (i.e. contour farming and no-tillage farming) and planting in extreme heat or cold conditions. Organic farming has many forms, but the main consensus is avoidance of the use of pesticides which through biomagnification lead to severe health risks overtime. Although some may consider organic farming as a throwback to the past (and hardly scientific) there are many agronomists who devote hours of research to perfect new breeds of crops (to improve biodiversity) that can resist all kinds of pests and weather conditions. The largest benefit of organic farming is the emphasis on producing natural fertilizer with local sourced material. There have been great strides in bio-digestion technologies in recent years aimed at allowing farmers to sustain adequate to high levels of nutrients in the soil. Soil naturallygets depleted if the same crops are planted in the soil year and year. Laboratory testing indicates that “tired soil” produces “tired produce” – fruits and vegetables that have only a fraction of the nutritive value of crops grown on soil using restorative agriculture techniques. Lastly sustainable agriculture is a set of techniques and principles that help farmers stick to the equilibrium point of economic growth and local carrying capacity. To put this into prospective, farmland gets depleted if the same crops are planted in the soil year and year. After a while the land will have to be left fallow (as is the case for conventional farming). However, in sustainable agriculture we forsake the old monocrop model and work with typically 30+ crops on a plot of land. If we rotate the crops in a cycle that permits the nutrients depleted to replenish, a farmer could indefinitely farm the same plot of land. That conscientiousness is the crux and aim of sustain agriculture. Restorative agriculture practitioners gradually become expert in determining which restorative agriculture techniques to use on a particular piece of land yet it requires a level of sophistication and organization that is unprecedented for rural communities in developing nations. As yet they do not have access this information or capital to jumpstart the system. GSR aims to be that bridge that can connect their world to the global marketplace of innovation and prosperity. Nutrient Cycling in Agriculture We often talk about the benefits of organic farming to conventional agriculture. The basis for our arguments rests with the facts surrounding the nutrient cycle and health. Without getting into the scientific detail we’d like to look at the nutrient cycle and why organic farming can be considered a viable form of sustainable agriculture. Sustainable implies that the process or technique is stretched out and prolonged over a set duration of time, in this case agriculturalists I referring to the productivity of a set area of farmland. In addition to this simplistic of prolonging productivity, sustainable also means to
  4. 4. keep things functioning at a constant. With over seven billion people in the world and counting, we cannot afford to have diminishing productivity for a single harvest, otherwise a food crisis would be imminent. This is where the nutrient cycle plays a vital role. Nutrients cycles are the naturallyoccurring processes that fluctuates the level of soil fertility in a set area. It dramatically impacts the scale of the simple yet crucial formula of input and output of resources that distinguishes whether a set piece of farmland is fertile enough to be profitable to farm. Soil can be restored overtime through recovery techniques, but these are usually costly efforts, which require a great amount of labor, resources, and concerted effort by international communities. This is the tragedy of the commons under the conventional agricultural practices. When farmers and agriculturalists use and support organic farming, they are trying to emulate and support the natural processes of nutrient cycling. Soil fertility can be carefully kept in an optimal stasis by using techniques like contouring plowing, no tillage, and percolate the right amount of water onto crops. This greatly minimizes the loss of soil fertility through run off, leaching, and erosion. Organic farming can also use organic material to make fertilizer. A perfect on site source of fertilizer is manure from cattle and other farm animals. If a farmer purchases a biodigestor within a matter of months he’ll be making money just from saving expenses on the purchase of expensive chemical fertilizers. Follow on Twitter Friend on Facebook Connect on LinkedIn Copyright © 2013 Green Self Reliance, Inc., All rights reserved. Visit our website: Our emailing address is: ||