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A local source of food that sustains the community

I'm not sure it is true, but if the band actually did continue playing as the Titanic was sinking, this amazes me to the core. I was once on a boat that I thought was sinking. I guess you can call it my NDE which might partially explain my deep care for this planet and every spirit on it.

When I thought the boat was sinking I was incredibly focussed on the life raft and how to deploy it. If I had more experience, like my step-father did, I would have first focussed on how to best save the boat from sinking. Simply attach your harness to the life line and clamber to the front of the boat and let the sails free fly freely from the boat and out of the all might force of the gale. Boat sits upright, head below, batten down the the hatches, pour everyone a whisky and read Shakespeare. Something like that.

I see our planet as a type of boat that is taking on water much the same. What is our best effort to right the boat? While studying the Philosophy of Technology my professors largely agreed that top-soil erosion is one of the biggest leaks in the boat.

Both our Food and our Shelters at this point are the leading cause of this leak.

I left University understanding that my goal is to learn how to grow food and build shelter without eroding the top-soil of the earth which amounts to the sheen on an orange. It is so thin, and carries the life support system of the planet. 

Clear-cutting our forests for lumber and paper is a direct cause of this erosion. The dramatic decrease in salmon habitat is a direct cause of this practice of forestry. This is why we support woodlot owners who only do selection logging and small patch clear-cutting where erosion cannot occur. This is why we have purchased our own woodlot. To lead by example.

In the 1960s there were 49 hypoxic zones in the world's oceans, and that number has doubled every decade since. Dead zones are caused by nitrogen, phosphorus and top-soil, largely from agriculture. As the nutrients run off farm fields and make their way into the ocean, they fertilize the blooms of naturally occurring algae. When the algae naturally die and sink to the bottom of the sea, bacteria feed on them and consume the dissolved oxygen that is needed to sustain fish and other life. As the bacteria continue to eat, the level of dissolved oxygen declines to the point where the ocean in that region is no longer able to support life. The most infamous of dead zones, extending over 8,500 square miles is in the Gulf of Mexico, fed by nutrient runoff from large-scale agriculture along the length of the Mississippi River. I hazard a guess that there are larger ones off the coast of China.

All this to say that food, being one of our closest relationships is one of the easiest places to make change for the better.

I committed to an organic food diet while in University on a very limited student loan budget. I just had to drink a bit less beer :) and learned to shop at second hand stores for everything but shoes, socks and underwear.

Even on a carpenters wage with a wife and three children to feed we still found a way to support local organic farmers.

The story I like to share most is when we lived in the interior I helped to start the farmers market in Rock Creek, BC. I learned that by steadfastly attending the farers market each week I did two things. I built a relationship with the farmer which allowed me to ensure the food was actually organic (not sprayed and the animals were healthy and happy). I did this by asking if I could come to the farm sometime to buy produce. The response was usually a resounding yes and welcome. 

The farmer greatly appreciates our support and the money from the market or farm gate goes directly into his/her pocket. Countless times as I was leaving with my produce the farmer would say, "hey I have an extra box of peppers I didn't sell at the market or would you like a box of these seconds apricots?"

At the end of the season I probably spent less money on many things, got greater quality and built rewarding relationships with the people that do all the hard work to grow healthy food than walking in a soul-less super market looking at food from around the world sprayed and irradiated with God only knows.

All this while learning myself at home how to grow as much food as possible. The new revolution in agriculture which is looking to biomimicry as First Nations have mastered over the centuries to Restoration Agriculture and Permaculture that has us focussing on more perennial food crops and learning how to slow down, soak and spread all the water that covers the building site from high to low.

This is all part of the healing process.

Our goal is to now merge the food security system with the building design. In Permaculture they speak of zones radiating from the center of zone 1 which is the house, kitchen garden, wood shed and all the daily use spaces. We design a food forest polyculture in zones 2 and 3 to partially surround zone 1.

In this way we can build and provide food locally in our quest to eliminate top-soil erosion from the list of leaks that threaten our most beautiful boat.

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