Instead of a Monster Mall


From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

August 31, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

To The Editors:

I’m continually baffled by a few of the locals who are promoting the Masonite Monster Mall. When I hear them speak, in one breath they talk about how much they love living in our rural small town, and in their next breath they talk about how great it will be to have a Monster Mall here so they don’t “have to drive to Santa Rosa to shop.”

Yet, they never bridge the gap between what we have, and what we would become. They never say “I’m looking forward to the sprawl and traffic and pollution and sirens and hubbub just like they have in Santa Rosa.” Or, “I want our town to look just like all the other towns and cities south of us. Wouldn’t that be just too cool?”

Instead, I want something else entirely. And Wendell Berry says it better than I can:

“In this difficult time of failed public expectations, when thoughtful people wonder where to look for hope, I keep returning in my own mind to the thought of the renewal of the rural communities. I know that one resurrected rural community would be more convincing and more encouraging than all the government and university programs of the last fifty years, and I think that it could be the beginning of the renewal of our country, for the renewal of rural communities ultimately implies the renewal of urban ones.

“But to be authentic, a true encouragement and a true beginning, this would have to be a resurrection accomplished mainly by the community itself. It would have to be done, not from the outside by the instruction of visiting experts, but from the inside by the ancient rule of neighborliness, by the love of precious things, and by the wish to be at home.

Is it either/or? Yes, I think it is.

Thank you for voting NO ON MEASURE A to preserve our unique, locally-owned businesses, neighborly small town values, and livable human-scale communities.
~~

The Fallacy of Climate Activism


From Adam D. Sacks
Grist Magazine – Excerpts

August 31, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

…the battle against greenhouse-gas emissions, as we have currently framed it, is over.

It is absolutely over and we have lost.

We have to say so…

If we climate activists don’t tell the truth as well as we know it—which we have been loathe to do because we ourselves are frightened to speak the words—the public will not respond, notwithstanding all our protestations of urgency.

And contrary to current mainstream climate-activist opinion, contrary to all the pointless “focus groups,” contrary to the endless speculation on “correct framing,” the only way to tell the truth is to tell it.  All of it, no matter how terrifying it may be…

If we live at all, we will have to figure out how to live locally and sustainably.  Living locally means we are able get everything we need within walking (or animal riding) distance. We may eventually figure out sustainable ways of moving beyond those small circles to bring things home, but our track record isn’t good and we’d better think it through very carefully.

Likewise, any technology has to be locally based, using local resources and accessible tools, renewable and non-toxic.  We have much re-thinking to do, and re-learning from our hunter-gatherer forebears who managed to survive for a couple of hundred thousand years in ways that we with our civilized blinders we can barely imagine or understand.

Living sustainably means, in Derrick Jensen’s elegantly simple definition, that whatever we do, we can do it indefinitely. We cannot use up anything more or faster than nature provides, we don’t poison the air, water, or soil, and we respect the web of life of which we are an intricate part.  We are not separate from nature, or above it, or in any way qualified to supervise it. The evidence is ample and overwhelming; all we have to do is be brave enough to look.

How do we survive in a world that will probably turn—is already turning, for many humans and non-humans alike—into a living hell? How do we even grow or gather food or find clean water or stay warm or cool while assaulted by biblical floods,

Take Action! We Have the Hope. Now Where’s the Audacity?


From Peter Dreier and Marshall Ganz
Common Dreams

August 31, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

On Aug. 25 last year, Sen. Edward Kennedy strode onto the stage at the Democratic National Convention in Denver and announced to a roaring crowd of party faithful the beginning of a new generation in American politics.”I have come here tonight to stand with you, to change America, to restore its future, to rise to our best ideals and to elect Barack Obama president of the United States,” he said. Comparing Obama to his slain brother, John F. Kennedy, the senator shouted: “This November, the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans. . . . Our country will be committed to his cause. The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on.”

Eight months into the Obama administration, as we mourn the senator from Massachusetts, many of us retain the hope, but we are wondering what happened to the audacity that is needed to move the country in a new direction. In recent weeks, many progressives have expressed concern that Obama’s bold plan to reform health care may be at risk. A defeat on this key issue could undermine other elements of his agenda. We don’t believe that the president has changed his goals, but we wonder whether he underestimated the power necessary to bring about real change.

Throughout the campaign, Obama cautioned that enacting his ambitious plans would take a fight. In a speech in Milwaukee, he said: “I know how hard it will be to bring about change. Exxon Mobil made $11 billion this past quarter. They don’t want to give up their profits easily.”

He explained what it would take to overcome the power of entrenched interests in order to pass historic legislation. Change comes about, candidate Obama said, by “imagining, and then fighting for, and then working for,

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness (Part 3)



From DON SANDERSON
Mendocino County

Parts |1|2|3|

August 28, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

In the East, Gandhi was assassinated, as was his dream for India. Vandana Shiva has described so poignantly what is happening there at this moment, but not just there. I don’t believe that we have any hope in reversing this in our own present governmental context. Is it not evident that we need a revolution. But, how so? As Thoreau finished his essay, “All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable. But almost all say that such is not the case now. … All machines have their friction; and possibly this does enough good to counterbalance the evil. … But when the friction comes to have its machine, and oppression and robbery are organized, I say, let us not have such a machine any longer. In other words, when a sixth of the population of a nation which has undertaken to be the refuge of liberty are slaves, and a whole country is unjustly overrun and conquered by a foreign army, and subjected to military law, I think that it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize. What makes this duty the more urgent is the fact that the country so overrun is not our own, but ours is the invading army.” I urge you to read “slaves” as “illegal immigrants, many working for slave wages”. Who but Thoreau can say it better? Thoreau scared people – and still does.

Those in power in this country and increasingly in the world have no respect for hard physical labor; accordingly, following our leaders, neither do Americans at large. So, we depend upon the mostly illegal Latinos to do the physical work to feed us. A distant acquaintance from this group, who has lived here many years, has a fine family, and has a responsible job running field machinery for a farmer that is a far distant giant global corporation, had to return south because of this mother’s illness.

The Economics of Organic Food


From Avery Yale Kamila
Portland Press Herald (Maine)
Via Organic Consumers Association

August 28, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

Only rich people can afford to eat locally grown, organic food. Have you heard that one before? I have, and it’s sure to come up during the “Can Maine Feed Itself?” keynote discussion taking place at next month’s Maine Fare festival in the midcoast.

The panel brings together a number of movers and shakers from Maine’s food scene for a conversation centered on how the state can become more self-reliant when stocking our grocery stores and filling our dinner plates.According to well-known organic Maine farmer and author Eliot Coleman, who farms year-round in unheated greenhouses and will participate in the panel, the No. 1 barrier preventing more Mainers from eating food grown and raised locally is the competition from cheap eats trucked in from California.

A whole book could be written (and has been) about the reasons factory farms and agribusinesses can produce food that costs so little. However, the simple answer, as Coleman pointed out, includes physical scale, illegal immigrant laborers, polluting farm practices and government subsidies.

At the same time, the idea that only the well-off can eat fresh, locally grown eats ignores the obvious and inexpensive solution of growing your own garden. You can’t get any more local than food grown steps from your kitchen. And with seeds that sell for pennies apiece and with compost an essentially free fertilizer that anyone can make from table scraps and dried leaves, it becomes clear that price alone is not the true issue.

I’d argue that the real barrier is psychological. Part of this can be traced to the American obsession with animal protein.

Meat, dairy and eggs are all expensive ways to include protein in our diets, and these ubiquitous staples of our national cuisine can be produced cheaply (think a dozen eggs for $1.69 at the grocery stores versus $4.50 at the farmers’ markets)

We’ve Been Going “Back To The Land” For A Long Time


From GENE LOGSDON
Upper Sandusky, Ohio

August 27, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

Here are some quotes you expect to see regularly in the media these days.

“Today, from press and pulpit, from publicists and legislators, comes the cry, ‘Back To the Land’! The problem of the “small farm” is becoming a very interesting one. The cry is ‘Back To the Land’ but the drift is away from the land.”

“The question of the big farm versus the small farm is very hotly debated… Good farming must perish with the breaking up of large farms, contends one side. Not so, replies the other side.”

“Two classes of people enthusiastically advocate the ‘Back To The Land’ movement… editors of our city papers and the high-cost-of-living sufferers… The metropolitan editors usually say: ‘Be independent. Be good citizens. And by quitting the city for the farm, you will become both.”

But those quotes appeared in print in 1921. Almost a century ago. The writer was James Boyle, his book, Agricultural Economics. At that time, the first big wave of gigantic farming in the United States, called bonanza farming, was breaking up on the shoals of economic reality. Some of those farms were over 10,000 acres in size, powered by cheap hired help and hundreds of teams of horses. There was a great hue and cry both for and against them. If the reader replaces the word ‘bonanza’ with ‘big’,  many of Boyle’s quotes read exactly like quotes today.

“Mr. Budge says there are several bonanza farms in North Dakota and mentions one of above seven thousand acres. He adds that he would like to see them all out of the way. They take up so much space that it hurts the school districts. The owners ship in supplies from the East. They ship their men in and out too.” Keep reading at OrganicToBe
~~

Take Action! Yo-Ka-Yo Cooperative Gardens Now Organizing



From JANET ROSEN
Mendocino County
Email: mendojanet@yahoo.com

August 27, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

This is to let you know that John Johns, one of the farmers at Ukiah’s Saturday Farmer’s Market, has been collecting names and contact info for local folks interested in a cooperative of backyard gardeners/farmers.

I’ve volunteered to spend some time on the tech stuff, setting up a way for those who signed his list plus other interested people to start conversing about what they’d like this project to be and do. We’ve set up a yahoo group (functions, just like the mendocommunity bulletin board and the mendobirds list, as an email group) at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/yokayocoopgardens as a way to share questions and input.

What we have as a starting point is:

Where are the Yo-Ka-Yo Cooperative Gardens? They could be in your backyard, or maybe your neighbors…

If you look around the Ukiah area, there are a lot of trees producing fruit that is falling on the ground, perfectly good food going to waste. Many family gardeners are finding they either have more vegetables than they need or don’t have the time to maintain everything as they’d like. Meanwhile, there is a growing demand for quality local food.

Yo-Ka-Yo Cooperative Gardens is being established as a cooperative membership organization for “backyard” gardeners and farmers in the Ukiah Valley. Our goals are:

1. Establish a networking and mutual support network for members that will include gardening advice, seed trading, bartering of goods and services.

2. Establish a distribution conduit for excess produce, which may include donations to local non-profits and/or sales to the public.
~~

“But, Mom? Where would the monster get its water?” “It would TAKE it from US, dear.”



From MICHAEL LAYBOURN
Hopland
(with emphasis added)

August 26, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

EXCERPTS FROM THE LAFCO REPORT CONCERNING WATER USE IN THE UKIAH VALLEY

[This report clearly shows us that the DDR Measure A plan is asking you to vote against your neighbors and possibly yourself if you need water. The DDR plan is also inaccurate and clearly states that the plan is to bypass any laws or careful thinking about how much water is needed or will be used. This is not about politics, it is about resources and there is not enough water. For the complete report go to http://www.mendolafco.org/files/2009-08-Service-Impact-Report.pdf -ML]

The proposed project will not be subject to the level of review required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) because it is being proposed by initiative.  Therefore, a groundwater analysis is not required to occur and thus any potential impacts to the groundwater will not be fully investigated and reviewed by the County prior to approval of the project.

Water and Millview County Water District (MCWD)

The Ukiah Valley is presently overbuilt to its available water resources. Any new growth will severely impact our existing circumstances. Even in non-drought years we have a water availability problem and are barely able to provide water services to existing development. Drought years therefore cause the requirement of extreme measures such as reduction by 50 percent or more of water consumption. Consider the following: Every time we increase development, we decrease our ability to survive a drought.

Take Action! Sing-Along To DDR Monster Mall Promoters Tonight Wednesday 8/26/09 Redwood Valley (Updated)


From JANIE SHEPPARD
Mendocino County

August 25, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

The Bronnettes singing group strikes AGAIN and all others that would like to participate, are welcome to copy the words below, which (loosely) goes to the Ernie Ford song Sixteen Tons.

DDR is planning a Community Town Hall meeting tonight, 6:15 ish or 6:30 is when we plan to sing.

The place….Redwood Valley Grange, 8650 East Road, near the Fire Station I’m told. Please feel free to make as many copies as you want… pass them around… an unofficial “No on A anthem”? Come sing with us, bring friends, we’ll have a few copies there to pass around too I believe. By the way, I find that snapping my fingers keeps a steady beat through out this piece plus I believe there will be guitar to keep us all “mostly together”.

Vote No on A Anthem
[Original lyrics here.]

some… people say a town is made out of shops,
but a good town has a lotta mom and pops,
mom and pops – not yer great big box -
the money stays here on our own sidewalks

CHORUS
with a DDR mall, what do you get -
another credit card and deeper in debt.
if there’s enuff water for a great big mall
you can be sure that they’ll take it all.

DDR’s too broke to develop what it owns,
that’s why they want us to pass a re-zone,
they can turn around and sell it to a bigger guy,
and no one knows if the project will fly.

now… other comp’nys work with the peoples plan,
but these carpetbaggers do whatever they can,
we’ll be stuck with it even if it ain’t right,
as we stop on State at the seventh stop light

The Practicality of Morals – Wendell Berry


From WENDELL BERRY
A Continuous Harmony (1972)

August 25, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

…there is only one value: the life and health of the world. If there is only one value, it follows that conflicts of value are illusory, based upon perceptual error. Moral, practical, spiritual, esthetic, economic, and ecological values are all concerned ultimately with the same question of life and health. To the virtuous man, for example, practical and spiritual values are identical; it is only corruption that can see a difference. Esthetic value is always associated with sound values of other kinds. “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” Keats said, and I think we may take him at his word. Or to say the same thing in a different way: beauty is wholeness; it is health in the ecological sense of amplitude and balance. And ecology is long-term economics. If these identities are not apparent immediately, they are apparent in time. Time is the merciless, infallible critic of the specialized disciplines. In the ledgers that justify waste the ink is turning red.

Moral value, as should be obvious, is not separable from other values. An adequate morality would be ecologically sound; it would be esthetically pleasing. But the point I want to stress here is that it wold be practical. Morality is long-term practicality.

Of all specialists the moralists are the worst, and the processes of disintegration and specialization that have characterized us for generations have made moralists of us all. We have obscured and weakened morality, first, by advocating it for its own sake—that is, by deifying it, as esthetes have deified art—and then, as our capacity for reverence has diminished, by allowing it to become merely decorative, a matter of etiquette.

What we have forgotten is the origin of morality in fact and circumstance; we have forgotten that the nature of morality is essentially practical.

A Low Impact Woodland Home


From Simon Dale
Wales

August 24, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

You are looking at pictures of a house I built for our family in Wales. It was built by myself and my father in law with help from passers by and visiting friends. 4 months after starting we were moved in and cosy. I estimate 1000-1500 man hours and £3000 put in to this point. Not really so much in house buying terms (roughly £60/sq m excluding labour).

The house was built with maximum regard for the environment and by reciprocation gives us a unique opportunity to live close to nature. Being your own (have a go) architect is a lot of fun and allows you to create and enjoy something which is part of yourself and the land rather than, at worst, a mass produced box designed for maximum profit and convenience of the construction industry. Building from natural materials does away with producers profits and the cocktail of carcinogenic poisons that fill most modern buildings.

Keep reading here
~~

Report From Eureka: Bayshore Monster Mall


From JANIE SHEPPARD
Mendocino County

August 24, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

Driving to Oregon and wanting to break up our trip, Bill and I stopped at Eureka’s Bayshore Mall.  I wanted to see how the economic downturn was affecting the mall.  Maybe there were some lessons for Mendocino County voters as Election Day approaches for Measure A.

We were surprised to see the parking lot practically full.  Maybe things weren’t so bad after all.

The mystery deepened once we entered the mall because it was practically empty on a Thursday afternoon.

What about all those cars in the parking lot?  We did not solve the mystery, but we did take a few pictures before a very imposing guard informed me that taking pictures was prohibited.  Why? I asked.  Because, he said, there were concerns about trademark infringement, what with all those logos (of extinct businesses?) and store names right out there for anyone to copy.

What It Means To Buy Local – Letter To The Editors


From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

August 24, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

To The Editors:

Over the past 50 years, the expansion of national businesses into local domestic markets with Big Box Stores, Chain Stores, Franchises and Monster Malls has diverted and redirected local circulating money to centralized corporate coffers. There it is spent on large capital outlays, national advertising, overseas goods, executive salaries, loan repayments, and dividends to Wall Street investors.

This interception of funds has depleted local towns and cities across our nation of an important source of funds: recirculated income.

To draw attention to this problem and save their small, locally-owned businesses, towns and cities have instituted Buy Local campaigns. They have been somewhat successful, so the giant international corporations are using big buck propaganda campaigns to claim they are “local” businesses.

One of the world’s largest international banks is now claiming to be “The World’s Local Bank” and Lay’s Potato Chips is seizing on citizen’s desire for locally-grown food with a “Lay’s Local” advertising campaign.

And, sure enough, the Masonite Monster Mall folks are also claiming that passing Measure A will be supporting Buy Local. Ha! Because they say it does not make it so! The Monster Mall can mail a million pamphlets, and make a million local phone calls, but the Masonite Monster Mall with Measure A is the antithesis of buying local and will sweep up even more of our money and send it elsewhere.

Buying groceries at Ukiah Natural Foods Cooperative, locally-owned by its members, is buying local.

A little daft?


From MICHAEL LAYBOURN
Hopland

August 24, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mandocino, North California

The word was out. It would be better to not have a green lawn.

Thirsty home landscaping, particularly lawns, will suck up an increasingly burdensome amount of water in California over the next 25 years unless big changes are made, according to a new report by the Public Policy Institute of California. “Do the math,” said study co-author Ellen Hanak, Landscaping currently accounts for at least half of all residential water demand, according to the report.

Even at the state level, Victoria Whitney, a deputy director of the state Water Resources Control Board, justified the staff proposal to ban irrigating commercial turf, a statewide issue that the water board has had on its radar as a way to save water. “A third of urban water use is irrigation,” Whitney said. “Given the issues that they face, it seemed now was the time to point out to folks this is an easy fix.”

So this drought is the real deal and the City of Ukiah orders mandatory water rationing.

As I was driving around looking at ways to redesign my own grassy yard and saw all the many civic minded people not watering, redoing the landscaping if there was enough money, I thought: “Good Citizens”.  Refreshing, so to speak.

But maybe not to Ukiah residents who did their good deed and now face an increase in water bill rates, because they stopped using so much water causing a 35% drop in water use revenue. Just like they were advised to do by the City of Ukiah. It surely seems ironic or maybe even daft to punish the people doing the right thing. I hope to soon read in the Ukiah Daily Journal or Anderson Valley Advertiser that “We wouldn’t think of raising the rates for water use, at least for people that have cut their water use.”

It would make a lot more sense for Ukiah and the County to arrange low cost loans for those wishing to landscape with native plants, providing jobs and real revenue.
~~

Our House Frog Liked Beethoven


From GENE LOGSDON
Upper Sandusky, Ohio

August 21, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

Living close to nature, I learned long ago there were mysteries as yet unexplained by science or even by the art of farming. Or maybe I just don’t read the right books. Anyway one of those things that science calls a phenomenon occurred again this morning. We have witnessed this occurrence so many times that it can’t be happenstance. When the hummingbirds run out of sugar water in their feeder right outside our kitchen, one of them flies up to the window and gently bumps it. Doesn’t run into it as if by accident, but hovers right at the pane and deliberately bumps it. The hummer seems to be saying: “The feeder is empty, you dolts. Get with it.” And they never bump the window unless the feeder is empty. They know. How do they know?

But a stranger mystery occurred last winter when a frog got into our house. It happened this way. We have a Christmas cactus that as far as we can figure is at least a hundred years old. My grandmother owned it and cussed it. Then one of my aunts owned it and cussed it. Somehow we inherited it. And cuss it. The pot it grows in is almost as big as a bushel basket and that’s why we cuss. Plant plus pot equals at least eighty pounds. All of us being inveterate farmers and gardeners, none of us have had the steel courage to get rid of it. We have tried starving it to death to no avail. It will not die. We time its movements into the house as winter approaches and back out as summer arrives when our son and son-in-law are visiting. Now they cuss it too.

Anyway, the frog evidently burrowed into the the Christmas cactus pot one summer and was still in it when we brought the plant inside. We never did see it— it being a tiny, tan creature that takes up very little space— but its song came loud and clear from the depths of cacti leaves and roots.

Keep reading at our food and farm blog OrganicToBe
~~

Local Currency Directory U.S.



From E. F. Schumacher Society

August 21, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North Californa

CALIFORNIA

Humboldt Exchange
Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap
P.O. Box 858
Eureka, CA 95502
info@humboldtexchange.org
http://www.humboldtexchange.org
First issue:
January 2003
Currency:
“Humboldt Community Currency” is a paper local currency in Eureka. Individual participants agree to accept half payment for their goods and services in a local currency made just for Humboldt. Many local businesses also accept Community Currency.
Participation:
67 businesses.
Information updated March 26, 2009


MASSACHUSETTS

BerkShares
BerkShares, Inc.
Asa Hardcastle, President of board
Susan Witt, Administrator
P.O. Box 125
Great Barrington, MA 01230
(413) 528-1737
info@berkshares.org
http://www.berkshares.org
First issue:
September 29, 2006
Currency:
BerkShares are a paper currency printed in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 and are traded in the southern Berkshire region of Massachusetts. They are distributed by local banks and are backed by federal dollars. They are purchased at $0.95 per BerkShare from the bank, spent at a value of $1 per BerkShare with participating individuals or businesses, and traded back for federal currency at $0.95 per BerkShare, providing a financial incentive for both individuals to get and spend them in the first place and for someone who has recieved BerkShares in a transaction to spend them again rather than return them for federal currency.

Keep reading at the E. F. Schumacher Society
~~

Letters to the Editor: Another better idea for the Masonite property


From LINDA CARR
Ukiah

August 21, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

Ukiah Daily Journal
To The Editor:

I have heard many ideas for the use of the old Masonite property and have given it much thought myself. I know many think it’s perfect for a shopping mall, but I disagree.

A mall uses a great deal of natural resources, only supplies minimum wage employment that cannot support a single person let alone a family, and encloses an area for crime and loitering.

I propose that we look into a retirement facility that addresses aging “baby boomers.” Mendocino County does not have enough graduated health facilities and the need for such is an important and necessary reality. Plus, the employment in this avenue offers wages that can support a family. More fast food and fast shopping is not what we need.

Let’s take another look at our future in Mendocino County and do the right thing by allowing those who have lived here, worked here, and paid taxes here have the opportunity to stay here in their hometown. Mendocino County is growing and we need to choose a responsible and profitable way to utilize the property.

Supervisors, give another thought about the realities of our future here and look beyond the same run down decisions. There is so much more to quality of life beyond immediate gratification.
~
Thanks to Steve Scalmanini
~~

An Interview with Gene Logsdon



From A Nation of Farmers (2009)
by Sharon Astyk & Aaron Newton

August 20, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

Along with [his good friend] Wendell Berry, Gene Logsdon has been a central leader of the American agrarian movement for decades. He is the author of many books, both practical and philosophical, and it is impossible to read any of his writing without being overcome with the desire to grow food.

Spring 2008

ANOF: Given the rising cost of fossil fuels because of their declining availability, the climate change associated with using those fossil fuels, the problems of soil erosion and water degradation and all the other problems with the way we grow food and eat it at this point in history, what do you think is the biggest challenge facing the American agriculture? And how can we address it?
Gene: The biggest problem in my opinion is that our society, our culture, does not understand that food is everyone’s business. We have decided, as a society, to let a few people worry about our food while the rest of us worry about money. And so food production has more or less become the domain of a few very large international corporations. The only cure for it is what is now happening. Food prices and food shortages and fuel shortages will force people to take back their lives. There’s an old saying that goes “People won’t do the right thing until they have no other choice.” I’m afraid that is true for the majority.

ANOF: Do you think it makes sense to grow food in the suburbs — in former farmland turned neighborhood? And do you have any suggestions for people interested in this sort of suburban homesteading?
Gene: Yes, this kind of “homesteading” is possible and admirable, and if you watch what is happening as food prices climb, it is taking place more and more.

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