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Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil.To feed the world, to clean the air and water, we need to change what we do with our soils.This podcast looks at the many variants of regenerative food growing. How? Why? When?We must be the ChangeUnderground!


87 Agroecology and Virgil | #worldorganicnews 2017 10 23



FREE .PDF One Square Metre Garden:


Virgil — Durn Fun Adventure Club - STL

Agroecology in Practice — AMELIA LAKE

Feeding the World Sustainably: Agroecology vs. Industrial Agriculture — dcook4real


This is the World Organic News for the week ending 23rd of October 2017.

Jon Moore reporting!

We begin this week with a one line post from the blog Durn Fun Adventure Club - STL


“Consider what each soil will bear, and what each refuses.”

End Quote

This is from the ancient Roman poet Virgil and bears much consideration. He was writing before humanity had a measure of pH yet soil type was connected to plant type. Acid soils for potatoes and blueberries, alkaline soils for legumes and neutral soils for most plants. Yes I understand Virgil saw neither a potato nor a blueberry as they are both New World plants but the statement holds true today.

I heard a Farming Today podcast from the BBC some years ago where a farmer with neutral to alkaline soils was growing blueberries in pots on top of the soil because it still made economic sense to go that extreme because of blueberry prices. The whirring noise I heard at the time must have been Virgil spinning in his grave.

Price signals can do strange things to farming. The high price of beef and the correspondingly low price of wool drove a large number of producers here in Australia to move from sheep to cattle. This occurred even on country almost designed for sheep and wool production. I have noticed the larger the farm, the greater the propensity to chase dollars over matching crop to landscape and soil. This may be a function of debt and or of production unit size. I’m not sure.

It is, though, an argument for smaller sized production units for the benefit of both the soils and the wider economy. The energy required to hip pots, acid growing medium and blueberry plants in case above could have allocated more sustainably elsewhere in the economy. There is no way the acidic soil would not have had an effect on the soil the pots stood. Water flows would be enough to alter the local environs.

Again to quote Virgil:

“Consider what each soil will bear, and what each refuses.”

This leads us nicely to our next post: Agroecology in Practice from AMELIA LAKE.

This is one of the best definitions of agroecology I’ve come across so I’ll quote it verbatim.


Agroecology is a rallying call, an inspiration, a collecting point and a word describing forms of food production which puts whole system, ecological thinking at its heart. It’s a term used to describe sustainable agriculture which imitates nature and doesn’t deplete nature’s resources.

End Quote.

Let’s just unpack that for a moment. A rallying call, an inspiration and a collecting point. We need inspiring ideas to change the world. Being right isn’t always going to cut it with the great mass of humanity. Indeed I would argue that many incorrect ideas over the last hundred years were applied because they inspired rather than worked. Fascism, Communism, Laissez Faire Capitalism, industrial agriculture all spring to mind. That agroecology actually works is, I think, now beyond doubt. That it works for the soil, the environment and the people growing and consuming the food is definitely beyond doubt. It does not work for the shareholders of fossil fuel companies, of pesticide and herbicide nor for futures traders. We have choice as to whom we’re going to support.

Agroecology is systems based and ecological at its heart. This requires a different understanding of the production process. Ecology is best represented as an interconnected web of lives and effects including weather, climate, altitude, latitude, aspect and season. Industrial approaches work on a factory mentality. Inputs in, outputs out and waste discarded. It is linear in nature compared to agroecology.

The last sentence of our quote: It’s a term used to describe sustainable agriculture which imitates nature and doesn’t deplete nature’s resources.  Now there’s a worthy aspiration. From the American dustbowl of the 1930s, to rabbit plague of 1950s in Australia, we humans have been good at not getting the balance right nor imitating nature.

In this post Amelia Lake, the author, has put her money where her mouth is:


After many years studying sustainable food production practices in the UK and having seen several designs of my own come to beautiful fruition I embarked upon my own agroecological project.

End Quote.

Currently the project is developing. A fully functional market garden is up and producing. There is more to come. I would recommend you read the article in full as it is quite inspirational. Link in the show notes.

For more on the differences between industrial agriculture and agroecology I have post from dcook4real entitled: Feeding the World Sustainably: Agroecology vs. Industrial Agriculture. Link, of course in the show notes. This an infographic post which is, therefore, not entirely ideal for the podcast medium. I would urge you to follow the links. It really is a good summary of the differences.

And of course we can all do our own little bit, either consuming ethically or growing our own ethically.

To that end, the one square metre garden handout is still available. email me at and it’ll be in your inbox pronto! There’s a link at the top of the show notes.

And with that I’ll finish up for this week.

Thank you for listening and I'll be back at the same time.




FREE .PDF One Square Metre Garden:


Virgil — Durn Fun Adventure Club - STL

Agroecology in Practice — AMELIA LAKE

Feeding the World Sustainably: Agroecology vs. Industrial Agriculture — dcook4real

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