There is no finer feeling than creation – bringing something into existence. We experience this in small ways and large: having an idea, writing a song, birthing a baby, growing food. Few things offer greater satisfaction and worth than creating something, anything, does.
Farming is not only creation, it is creativity. It is the art of making something out of nothing. And this “something” ain’t no joke – food is what sustains us. These creations are necessary for life.
As we’re bombarded with the projections of what 11 billion people will do to the planet, and what it will take to feed them, it can be tempting to fall into the trap of monoculture, large-scale, industrial agriculture. But what if I told you that small-scale farming can produce a yield, using methods designed to return the surplus to the system and reduce pressure on our dwindling resources?
Using only 1.5 acres for garden space, plus fruit and nut trees scattered across the property and pasture area for livestock, Linnaea Farm is not only able to feed the eight stewards that live on site, but sell at summer markets. For 10 weeks they sell their wares almost every single day.
Adam Shaikh tends to the Linnaea Farm gardens and has done for many years. He spent time with us explaining how he observed the land and worked with it, rather than imposing his ideas of how things should happen onto it. During a 3-hour permaculture information blitz, he gave us a taste of the myriad things he has learned while cultivating the land. Time and again, it came back to trying something new, seeing how the system responded to that change and then adapting again. This is the perfect embodiment of a permaculture principle: creatively use and respond to change. Not only was Adam responding to the system itself, he was giving time and observing how the system responded to him. Give and take. Guess and check. Try, fail, and try again. Creative solutions for your perceived problems.
Not only does this allow Adam to gain critical understanding of the techniques he employs, he also said that “small systems are able to respond quicker and with more diversity and creativity to pests and changing climates than large-scale operations”. In the face of climate change, this kind of adaptability is crucial for survival. Natural selection always picks a favourite – which species will carry the genes that enable it to win out over its competitors. By working with the transitioning climate, rather than forcing old methods to work by adding chemical fertilizers and genetically modifying organisms, Adam is able to produce hardy stock that just might stand the test of time.
It sure has so far.