All posts by Rasmus

Om fødevareproduktion: Nyelenis nyhedsbrev Maj 2011

Hvem er Nyeleni?

In the last years hundreds of organizations and movements have been engaged in

struggles, activities, and various kinds of work to defend and promote the right of people

to Food Sovereignty around the world.  Many of these organizations were present in

the Nyéléni Forum 2007 and feel part of a broader Food Sovereignty Movement, that

considers the Nyéléni 2007 declaration as its political platform. The Nyéléni Newslet-

ter wants to be the voice of this international movement.

God (engelsk) introduktion til ny rapport om landbrug og biodiversitet

Participatory Research and On-Farm Management of Agricultural Biodiversity in Europe


Colin Tudge

It should be fairly straightforward to feed everyone who is ever liable to be born on

this Earth, and to feed them to the highest standards of nutrition and gastronomy. We

should be able to this without wrecking the rest of the world and driving our fellow

creatures to extinction – farming can be wildlife friendly; for many creatures, farmland

is a serious component of their habitat. Worldwide, agriculture is still by far the

world’s greatest employer, and so it could – and should – remain. The jobs it supplies

should be among the most absorbing and agreeable of all, and of high prestige. Most

of today’s farmers work, as most farmers have over the past few hundred years, on

small, mixed family farms – which still supply about 70 per cent of all the world’s

food; 90 per cent in countries like Nigeria. Industrial farming that is now called

“conventional” is anything but. It accounts for only 30 per cent of the total world

output and has existed for only about a century – less than one per cent of the total

known history of agriculture.

Of course, all farming could benefit from good science and appropriate technology –

this is true for all human endeavours. But we could easily do the basics right now. To

a very great extent the necessary knowledge, methods and skills are what traditional

farmers have and practice as a matter of course.

But we are not feeding ourselves well. An estimated one billion out of the world’s seven

billion people are chronically undernourished. Another billion suffer the “diseases of

affluence”, of which obesity is the most obvious and diabetes is probably the most

widespread and destructive. Our farming is not Earth-friendly. We are in the midst of

a mass-extinction, for which agriculture is largely responsible. Half of all our fellow

plant and animal species are estimated to be threatened. All the non-renewable main

ingredients of crop production – soil, fresh water, phosphorus – are being squandered.

Industrial – “conventional” – farming depends absolutely on oil, which is running

Participatory Research and On-Farm Management of Agricultural Biodiversity in Europe


Participatory Research and On-Farm Management of Agricultural Biodiversity in Europe


out. However, this may be just as well because if we go on burning it at the present

rate, we will wreck the climate, as is already obvious. There is a horrendous loss of

farmers worldwide as family farms which were traditionally small and complicated,

producing mixtures of crops and livestock, give way to big, ultra-simplified estates

and plantations that are monocultural to the point of absolute uniformity, and that

employ as few people as possible. Even most farmers in rich countries today are poor,

being among the lowest-paid in their respective societies, almost always stressed,

sometimes despised, often in poor health, and prone to suicide. Yet a handful in

Europe and the US are very rich indeed – heavily supplemented by government or

European subsidies.

The entire global food industry is extremely lucrative – one of the world’s biggest, as

indeed it should be. Food remains the key to human existence as it always will—but

the actual production of it has been virtually sidelined. Most of the wealth has shifted

these past few decades out of farming and into food processing, distribution and

retail. This is mostly under the heading of “value adding”, largely controlled by a few

giant corporations and very rich individuals who swallow up more and more of the

production and build increasingly bigger and ever more specialised industrial units,

often with direct or indirect help from governments. Overall, this shift of wealth from

the many to the few can, and should, be seen as a giant, systematised exercise in


In essence, food production is a matter of biology: how much does the human species

really need, and how much can the world produce—not just for the next few decades,

but at least for the next 10,000 years. Food production is also, of course, a matter of

morality: do we actually want to provide everyone in the world with good food, or are

we content that the Devil should take the hindmost? Some, it seems, feel that while

mass hunger is not exactly desirable, it is at least inevitable. If people are starving it

must be because there are too many people.

However, agriculture is perceived these days not as an issue of biology and morality.

It is seen, as the chill expression has it, simply as “a business like any other”. There

is nothing wrong with business per se – we need not be anti-capitalist to abhor what

is happening right now to the world – but it is surely wrong to add “like any other”.

Many would say that access to good food is a fundamental human right: that to

devise a system of farming that leaves people out in the cold – let alone a very fair

proportion of the human race – is an absolute breach of human rights; an offence

against humanity.  This thought underpins Michel Pimbert’s report, and is endorsed

by various branches of the United Nations.

Still worse, the concept of business, which should be agreeable enough, has been

corrupted. Nowadays all business is obliged to operate within the economic framework

of “neoliberalism”. In all countries, all businesses of all kinds—including farms—are

conceived as components of one vast “global market” which is supposedly “free”.

Allegedly the market operates on a “level playing field”, but in reality it is controlled by

Participatory Research and On-Farm Management of Agricultural Biodiversity in Europe


the biggest players, and is heavily tilted in their favour. In practice, a few multinational

corporations run the global market virtually as a cartel. In this they are supported by

the world’s most powerful governments, including Britain’s, who nowadays seem to

see themselves as extensions of the corporate boardroom. Indeed they make a virtue

of this; they call it “realism”.

If the global, neoliberal market actually delivered the things that are good for humankind,

for our fellow species, and for the fabric of the Earth, then we – people at large – could

reasonably say: “Fair enough!” We could happily, or fairly happily, go along with the

fiction that the glitzy bright supermarkets with their rows of breakfast cereals and “buy-

one-get-one-frees” really do serve us well, and that they, and the farms that supply

them, really do represent progress, modernity and the future. Legitimately we could

feel sorry for all those people in “poor” countries who do not yet have a supermarket,

but must rely on market stalls where the fruit, spices, chickens and cuts of lamb and

goat are not all exactly the same, nor vacuum-packed, and are not brought in from the

far corners of the Earth in the interests of customer “choice”. We could accept, too,

that the farmers who find they cannot supply the goods that the supermarkets need,

and so go out of business, are well out of it: that their way of life belongs to the past;

that they were probably unhappy in any case, and are now free to find more civilised

employ in any one of the world’s many vibrant and ever-growing cities. All this, after

all, is what we city people are given to understand. It is the message of the TV ads

which for more and more people worldwide are a prime source of information.

But actually, when we look beneath the glitz, we find that the modern food chain—

beginning with the monocultural high-tech estate and the multi-story pig factory,

and ending at the supermarket after many a contortion—is not serving us well at all.

Indeed it is the main cause of the world’s primary ills: the core reason why the human

species is now in such dire straits – why there is hunger, why there are food riots, why

everyone is wondering whether we can get through the present century in a tolerable

state, never mind the next 10,000 years of human development.

For within the global, corporate-dominated economy, all farmers are required, above

all, to make money. And because the economy is global and ultra-competitive, all

farmers must try to make as much as possible within the shortest time, or they

will lose out to someone else who can make more. In principle even this could be

acceptable. Money ought to be a measure of something real and worthwhile – of a

person’s ability to do something well, or of general excellence. A little competition, at

least in the form of friendly rivalry, is indeed a good spur. But in the modern economy,

money is not a measure of underlying excellence, but is an end in itself. Indeed, it is

the sole purpose of the whole endeavour; and the competition is ruthless, no-holds-

barred, and to the death.

But what really matters is that the kind of farming that makes most money in the

shortest time is absolutely at odds with the kind of farming that could feed us, and

that could continue to feed us. Indeed it is diametrically opposed to such farming.

Participatory Research and On-Farm Management of Agricultural Biodiversity in Europe


If today’s industrial, neoliberal farming was providing us all with good food, and

was looking after the fabric of the world, it still would not be perfect. We still might

consider it unjust, and unpleasant, and seek to reform it on grounds of morality and

aesthetics. But the present reality is far worse. Neoliberal farming is threatening to

kill us all off. It already accounts for the death of a fair proportion of humanity and

an even larger proportion of our fellow species, and is wrecking the planet—our only


This may seem an extraordinary claim, yet the facts are clear. The corporates,

governments, banks and their attendant experts who now dominate the world, claim

that their strategies and policies are “evidence-based”. Yet the most fundamental

Participatory Research and On-Farm Management of Agricultural Biodiversity in Europe


facts, which are the guts of evidence, are ignored completely. A fiction, based on

abstractions, scientific and economic dogma, is substituted. All in all, the defence of

the present neoliberal food system is the most astonishing example of what George

Orwell in a different context (although only slightly different, when you look closely)

called “double-think”.

For if we truly want to feed ourselves, and to go on doing so, we must apply the principles

of biology. Those principles tell us that the most productive and sustainable farms – the

ones that can continue to produce the most crops and livestock per unit area over the very

long term – are mixed, tightly integrated, and, in general, organic. Many these days call

this “agroecology”: the farm is conceived not as a single-product food factory but as an

ecosystem, with many different animals and plants interacting synergistically. There is a

huge literature worldwide to show that such synergistic systems are the most productive

by far – and are certainly the most productive over time. Industrial, monocultural farms

may outstrip them in yield from time to time, but only when the inputs are enormous and

the crops are heavily protected with artificial pesticides and herbicides. Yet somehow,

when official bodies produce official reports on the future of farming, this literature on

agroecology is ignored in favour of brochures showing some industrial crop bursting at

the seams in the idealised conditions of an experimental farm.

The epithet “organic” implies that artificial inputs are kept to a minimum— nitrogen-

fixing plants provide the basic fertility, and livestock keep the nutrients cycling. In

such systems the organic content of the soil builds up quite rapidly, meaning that the

soil acts as a carbon sink. Organic-rich soils are spongy, too, and so retain water—

irrigation becomes largely unnecessary. Such farms improve the soil year by year.

They are indeed sustainable.

Farming also needs to be flexible, resilient. The world is changing and we need to

be able to change with it. This will be especially necessary in the next few decades

and centuries, as the climate continues to fluctuate. The key to resilience, as Charles

Darwin made so clear in On the Origin of Species, is variation. Above all we need a

diversity of crop and livestock species; and within each breed of crop and livestock

we need as much genetic diversity as possible. Of course, we can’t just grow a

random selection of plants and animals as if they were wild: our crops and animals

have to be tailored into forms that can be managed to produce good food. But it is

perfectly possible to produce crops and animals that are all more or less the right

size, shape and flavour; and that mature at the right sort of rate – but which, beneath

the surface, at the level of the gene, are tremendously diverse. This possibility has

been demonstrated abundantly over the past 10,000 years of agricultural history.

Monocultures and clones are not necessary – and they are extremely vulnerable. A

disease or a quirk of climate that kills any one individual will kill the lot.

But there is a snag – at least as far as the neoliberal economy is concerned, geared

as it is to the maximisation of profit. Farms that are mixed, integrated and primarily

organic are inevitably complex. So they require a high level of husbandry by farmers

Participatory Research and On-Farm Management of Agricultural Biodiversity in Europe


who are experts: day-labourers trucked in from some disadvantaged economy will not

do. When farms are complex and labour intensive there is little or no advantage in

scaling-up – the appropriate units, the ones that really could feed the world and go on

doing so, should generally be small to medium-sized.

There is a further biological advantage in the complex and the small-scale. When

you look closely at a landscape – when you walk the ground, and especially when

you work the land – you find that each field, each slope is different in terms of soil,

drainage or microclimate. Even in today’s economy, growers of crops that command

high prices appreciate this. Wine-growers attend to the smallest detail, and take

advantage of each caprice. Small farmers in traditional societies (in which farming

was appreciated) applied the same level of care to their beans and potatoes. Multiply

this local knowledge a billion times and we can see how we could raise the quality,

the sustainability and the resilience, of all the world’s food.

But farms that are intended to maximise wealth must be designed quite differently.

The first requirement when profit is the motive is to maximise turnover – which in

agriculture means yield.

Participatory Research and On-Farm Management of Agricultural Biodiversity in Europe


Thus, official report after official report tells us that we must maximise yields – and as

a matter of urgency. Britain’s Chief Government Scientist, Sir John Beddington, told

us in his recent “Foresight” report on The Future of Food and Farming that we need

to raise the global output of food by 50 per cent by 2050 to take account both of

future population increase—to an estimated 9.5 billion—and of increased individual

“demand”. Sir John also gives us to understand that this can only be achieved with

new technologies, including genetic engineering (to create “genetically modified

organisms” or GMOs). In many a report, those who oppose these technologies are

deemed to be “irresponsible”, “Luddite”, “elitist”, “unrealistic” – and so on.

Yet the basic statistics—what ought to be seen as evidence—present a quite different

picture. The same UN demographers who tell us that the world population will reach

9.5 billion by 2050 also tell us that numbers should then level out – not because of

catastrophe but because that is the demographic trend. After a few decades more, or

perhaps a few centuries, numbers should decline. So the problem is finite: we need

to feed 9.5 billion, and to go on feeding them.

Is this really possible? Well, a few basic statistics – including some in the Foresight

report – suggest that it should be positively simple. For The Future of Food and

Farming also tells us that the world includes about 4.5 billion hectares of agriculture.

Participatory Research and On-Farm Management of Agricultural Biodiversity in Europe


With a world population of around 9.5 billion, we will need to feed two people per

hectare. The average wheatfield in Britain, yielding 8 tonnes per hectare, provides

enough protein and calories for about 24 people. The mixed, integrated farms of

SE Asia probably produce enough food per hectare for about 50 people. Even the

sorghum fields of the Sahel, producing about one tonne per hectare, provide enough

macronutrients for two people—the world’s projected average requirement.

Furthermore, Hans Herren of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge,

Science, and Technology for Development (IAASTD) tells us that the world already

produces enough food to provide each person alive today with around 4,800 kcals

per day. This is about twice the average need. Putting this another way: we already

produce enough food energy for 14 billion people. “Food energy” does not necessarily

imply a good diet. But if we produce the energy by sensible means—cereals rather

than sugar beet—the rest can follow. Fourteen billion is 50 per cent more people

than we will ever need to feed. So why do we need to increase yields by 50 per cent

over the next few decades? This claim is taken to justify the biotech industry and the

government policies that support it. But it looks like pure commercial hype.

To be sure, there are problems – but they are not, in general, those of productivity;

and they do not, in general, require much in the way of more technology. About

50 per cent of the food that could and should be grown in the world’s fields is lost

before and after harvest to pests, including fungi. To a great extent the necessary

technologies are simple – silos or better barns – but they require investment of the

kind that just is not forthcoming. It is clear, too, that if we really did want to raise

productivity then we need not turn first to high tech, and certainly not to GMOs. All

who know Third World agriculture well, including the farmers themselves and those

outsiders who have truly become involved, insist that small, mixed, family farms the

world over could generally double or triple their output. The means to do this are not

always technological – they include guaranteed prices for crops so that the farmers

know how much to invest. But guaranteed prices are the anathema of the free market

(although the richest countries, including those of the European Union, make their

own rules on this).  None of this means that small, mixed farms would not benefit

from “high”, science-based technologies. Indeed they often stand to benefit most. But

the technologies need to be appropriate: geared to the real needs of the small farmer.

GMOs are certainly not.

In truth, the real problem for those who would maximise yields is that it is too easy to

feed everybody well. Even the richest people cannot eat much more than the poorest,

so the market becomes “inelastic”. The easiest way round that problem is to waste

most of the food before selling it. The standard method is to feed staple foods—which

could be feeding us all and are the basis of all the world’s great dishes—to livestock.

Hence we feed half the world’s cereals and well over 90 per cent of the soya to animals

– including cattle which are not designed by nature to eat such fare. In truth we could

raise all the cattle and sheep we need on grass and browse without encroaching

Participatory Research and On-Farm Management of Agricultural Biodiversity in Europe


on the main crops at all, and all the chickens and pigs we need on leftovers, as we

traditionally did. But this is less profitable (within the present economy). So the fiction

is maintained – and ratified from on high – that there is a global food shortage, and

that only high-tech intervention, organised from on high, can put it right.

Merely increasing yields, though, is not enough for those who seek to maximise profit.

Value must be added. Again, in principle, there is nothing wrong with this. Why not

turn cacao seeds into chocolate? But “value adding” in the modern market has virtually

become the prime focus. It manifests in endless packaging and selling fruit out of

season. It manifests too in all the specious “choice” in the supermarket – which, when

you look closely, is largely composed of endless variations of palm oil and corn syrup,

grown in vast monocultures cheaply, thanks to the artificially low cost of oil.

The third essential requirement for those who would maximise profit is to reduce

costs – and this, in the context of agriculture, is the most damaging of all. For the

most expensive input in traditional farming is labour – because traditional farming is

labour intensive. So labour and all the expertise that should go with it are replaced

by heavy engineering and industrial chemistry (nowadays abetted by biotech). In

such industrialised systems there are enormous advantages in scaling-up – the bigger

the combine harvester, the better – so the fields and the estates become bigger and

bigger. (There are “farms” of 300,000 hectares in the Ukraine – and some feel they

are not yet big enough). With almost zero labour and vast fields, complexity goes

right out of the window. The name of the game is monoculture. The vast estates

are each dedicated to a single crop – which, in the interests of predictability are as

genetically uniform as possible. Many are clones. Or we have vast livestock factories

for pigs, poultry, and even these days for cattle. They too are as genetically uniform

as possible. There is even talk (echoed in Beddington’s Future of Food and Farming

report) of cloning livestock. Indeed it is more than talk. It is already happening.

All this is the precise opposite of what common sense, common morality, and basic

biology tell us should be done. Yet it is the norm. It is what is now called “conventional”.

And there is worse. The free market is not really “free”, to be sure. It is manipulated

and in effect controlled by the big players. But the big players are nonetheless obliged

to slug it out. Each seeks to enhance its own “market share”. Each in principle

would like monopoly—and some of the biggest companies, despite laws ostensibly to

prevent this—have already achieved it.

When all the big players start fair, then the battle of the giants to gain supremacy

becomes rather difficult. This is where high tech really comes into its own, and

the patenting laws that go with it. For if one of the big players can come up with

a technology that the whole market perceives to be essential, then truly they can

fill their boots. All those who do not have the new technology are perceived to be

disadvantaged. “Perceived” is the key word. This is a game, the market is an artifice,

and perception is all.

Participatory Research and On-Farm Management of Agricultural Biodiversity in Europe


This is the true purpose of GMOs. They do not, except in favoured circumstances,

increase yields. They do not, overall, reduce reliance on herbicides, pesticides, or

fertilisers. Indeed they can increase reliance. One of the world’s leading GM crops,

“Roundup Ready” rape (also known as canola) is designed expressly to be used

alongside a herbicide (namely Roundup). But the biotech companies are very good

at public relations. Moreover, to an increasing extent they finance and, hence, control

agricultural research. It is now quite difficult to find agricultural research that is not

commercially financed, commonly by biotech companies. Governments go along with

this for a whole variety of reasons, one of which is that high-tech agriculture that veers

towards monoculture is highly profitable. The profits are seen to increase GDP, which

means they contribute to the “economic growth” that has become the principal goal,

and indeed the raison d’être, of the world’s most powerful governments. It is also far

easier for governments to deal with a few large corporates than with thousands—or,

worldwide, with billions—of individual farmers. Bureaucracy, the neoliberal economy,

and various forms of high technology, fit together very well. They are the components

of top-down control.

Participatory Research and On-Farm Management of Agricultural Biodiversity in Europe


Fortunately, there are protestors: and some of those protestors present arguments that

are in all ways superior to those that defend the status quo. The moral and metaphysical

base of those arguments is obviously stronger than those that support the status quo.

It is founded in a real desire to improve the human condition and make the world a

better place. These protestors also take account of the statistics which show, beyond all

reasonable doubt, that there are better ways of doing things – and in particular that we

must build on the knowledge and expertise, not to say the brilliance, of the traditional,

complex, agro-ecological, small farming that, mercifully, still exists.

Such are the arguments you will find in this report. Michel Pimbert is an agroecologist

who has worked in both national and international agricultural research systems. He

is now based at IIED where he facilitates participatory action research on policies and

practices for food sovereignty, agroecology, and citizenship.

In particular Michel tackles two crucial and related themes. First, he looks at the specific

but huge influence of the European Union’s (EU) Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) –

and especially the revisions planned for 2013. Secondly, and more generally, he asks

how the world can and must engage more directly with the people who really can

produce enough food for all of us, and who know how to do it: the world’s vast battalions

of small farmers.

His account of the CAP makes for dismal reading. As is well known, the CAP flouts the

rules of the global free market by handing enormous subsidies to Europe’s farmers. In

Participatory Research and On-Farm Management of Agricultural Biodiversity in Europe


truth, the “free” market model is deeply flawed, especially when applied to agriculture,

and some kind of control of the market is highly desirable. But the present system of

subsidies is crude to the point of perversity and well beyond. It does not reward the small

mixed farmers whom the world needs. Instead, at huge public expense, it rewards the

biggest – encouraging them to become even bigger, which pushes the small farmers out

of business. And as I’ve mentioned above, vastness is the enemy of the complexity and

synergy that are vital. As well as the CAP, current seed laws are increasingly restricting

the range of crops that can be grown. By insisting on uniformity, which is more and more

tightly defined, they are reducing, drastically, the genetic diversity within each crop. By

the same token, the laws of intellectual property are pushing us towards a world in which

no farmer will be able to grow any crop or raise any animal that does not carry some

patent. He or she will be forced to pay royalties to the company that holds that patent.

This amounts, in effect, to a handover of farming that should belong to all of us, to a few

big commercial players, working in concert with a few powerful governments.

Varietal and genetic diversity is the key to future food security: it is what will enable us

to change direction as the climate continues to change – in ways that we cannot predict.

Today’s GM wonder-crops with their narrow genetic base are all too likely to be nine-

day wonders. To reduce the diversity of our most fundamental of resources—food—is to

place us all in danger, especially our children and grandchildren. This should surely be

seen as a human rights issue, and be dealt with by human rights law. Even more grandly,

endangering the human race—albeit by this indirect means— should be seen as a crime

against humanity. We – people at large – should be angrier than we seem to be; and we

should be asking deep questions; not simply about the nature of the economy, but about

the nature of governance. How do we have elected governments that clearly do not act

in our best interest? Truly we need to re-conceive what we mean by democracy.

Michel’s second theme relates directly to this. For, he says, the small, traditional farmers

of the world who, if given the chance, really could feed us and take care of our fellow

creatures, are routinely sidelined. No-one listens to them. At best, they are patronised;

but usually they are ignored completely. Yet (and as the IAASTD report acknowledged)

the experience and local knowledge that small farmers have accumulated are essential

to our future wellbeing. The world’s traditional farmers should be consulted as a matter

of simple justice. But if humanity really cares about its own future, we should not merely

consult the small farmers, we should seek them out as key participants. For the most

part, they should set the agenda. To a very large extent they already know what we need

to know, and can already do what needs to be done.

In truth, there has been a recent trend towards consulting farmers when planning

agricultural research. But as Michel points out, the term “consultation” covers a spectrum

of involvement which at the bottom end is virtually meaningless. Administrators and visiting

experts often claim to have “consulted” the locals when all they have done is tell them

what is about to happen – or even, what has just been done. Participation must mean far,

far more than this: a true dialogue between modern science and traditional knowledge.

Participatory Research and On-Farm Management of Agricultural Biodiversity in Europe


This report spells out what such dialogue entails, and how it can be brought about.

We might ask in passing why it is that the powers-that-be have created a system of food

production and distribution that is so obviously bad for the human species in a dozen

different ways, which is killing people in huge numbers; and which, for good measure, is

wiping out our fellow creatures and threatening to send the whole world into ecological

tailspin. We might ask why the powers-that-be still insist that we continue with more of

the same. We might especially ask why they systematically ignore the people who really

could do what needs doing. Not just ignore them—insult them and put them out of work.

Why, indeed, do they favour abstract economic and scientific theory and dogma over

real empirical knowledge while claiming, at the same time, to provide strategies that

are “evidence-based”? Are they – the powers-that-be – wicked? This is hard to believe.

Are they, simply, profoundly ignorant? Certainly, people in high places generally seem

far too specialised. Economists rarely understand biology and operate as if they believe

that the Earth and all the creatures within it, including humans, can be thrust into

any economic mould that may be devised. Even worse: scientists who are now called

biologists are increasingly no such thing. They are technologists, chemists manqué,

adept in the manipulation of DNA. This is not the same thing at all. Very few of those

in power seem to have any robust metaphysical or moral base. They are not skilled in

asking what is good, and why.

What matters most, however, is false belief. The powers-that-be really do believe, or

have persuaded themselves to believe, that what are now perceived as the ways of the

Western world are the right ways.

The Western world is not on the whole obsessively “secular”: religion and, more broadly,

spirituality, have played a huge part in its history and in psyche. But the modern age is

certainly hard-nosed. It emphasises what it calls “rational” thinking at the expense of

intuition – human sympathy and common sense. Science is taken as the exemplar of

Participatory Research and On-Farm Management of Agricultural Biodiversity in Europe

rationality, and is perceived as the royal road to truth: if we are not omniscient already we

soon will be if only we do more research; and with omniscience will come omnipotence.

The modern Western view rejects any notion of transcendence: the philosophy that

prevails is materialistic—wedded to stuff. Indeed the belief is evident in official reports

on everything—from the economy to climate change or health care—that personal

enrichment and increasing physical comfort are the essence of “progress”. Sometimes

we are even told in flights of political and industrial rhetoric that “to conquer nature” for

our own comfort is “Man’s destiny”. The Earth and our fellow creatures, in the absence

of any metaphysic, are perceived as “resources”. The point of human life, apparently,

is to turn these “resources” into commodities which can be sold for money, which (by

definition) makes us rich. At present, to be sure, the wealth stays at the top – the

rich are growing richer while the poor growing poorer. But, we are assured, the wealth

will inevitably “trickle down” to the rest of humanity. All we need to achieve this very

particular version of Nirvana is more science and high tech, set free by the market.

This philosophy is crude in the extreme but it’s the view, nonetheless, that prevails.

Defenders of the status quo argue that this view prevails because it is true – and

that it really is good for people. But that is obviously nonsense. The crude defence of

materialism and the brutalised version of science and the dogma of neoliberalism that

are invoked to support it prevail because those who cling to it really do become rich and

powerful, at least in the short term; and those who are rich and powerful dominate the

rest. It’s a simple tautology.

In August 1650 Oliver Cromwell wrote this plea to the parliamentarians of Scotland: “I

beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken”. I don’t

believe that the people who are now in the most powerful positions will ever think it

possible that they may be mistaken; and those of us who give a damn about the state of

the world, and our children, and other people’s children, and our fellow creatures, have

to take matters into our own hands and do our own thinking.

This is what millions of men and women worldwide are already doing, and have been

doing since humanity began. In large part they have shown what we really need to do

to solve our problems, and to create a better life. They are the people we ought to be

engaging with. Michel Pimbert’s excellent report tells us how. It needs to be read, and

acted upon. By all of us.

Colin Tudge, Wolvercote, March 18 2011

Colin is co-founder of the Campaign for Real Farming and the College for Enlightened

Agriculture. His latest book, Good Food for Everyone Forever, is now available from

Amazon or from Pari Publishing:


Tysk hilsen og info om Nordisk PermaKultur festival i Danmark til August

hi dansk friends

maybe this is for interest to you
hope you are flowing well…

love robert

Robert Strauch
Permakultur Designer
diploma of applied permaculture design
Dragon Dreaming Trainer
Tischler, Gestalter
Kleinkrausnik 21
03249 Sonnewalde

fon/fax 035323-60966
empfohlene webseiten:

From: sandra
Date: 1 June 2011 14:34:12 GMT+02:00
Subject: [Pk-liste] Fwd: NORDIC PERMACULTURE FESTIVAL 26.-28. August in Denmark
hej ihr,

vielleicht gibt es leute, an die ihr diesen termin weiterleiten wollt?

liebe grüße,
sandra 🙂

——– Original-Nachricht ——–
Betreff: NORDIC PERMACULTURE FESTIVAL 26.-28. August in Denmark
Datum: Tue, 31 May 2011 14:35:05 +0300

You might be interested in:

– solutions for a sustainable future-
26-28. August 2011

Location: Hegnstrup, Gl. Københavnsvej 14, 3550 Slangerup, Denmark

The Nordic Permaculture Festival is an event aiming to facilitate and
broaden the knowledge of sustainable solutions in our modern world.
The festival will act as a forum for people already engaged in sustainable
businesses, construction, agriculture, and other activities to share
amongst themselves and the general public.

The festival intents to open up the field of sustainability to a broader
public view with a hands-on as well as theoretical focus. The festival is
an opportunity for participants from the different Nordic countries to
gather and exchange information about sustainable solutions from their
areas – both on a national and local level.

Do you want to join us? Or are you interested in instructing a practical
or theoretical workshop within your field of experience, present your
sustainable garden, house, community or farm design, or are you up for
entertaining us all at night? Or is your organization or company
interested in sharing your expertise and innovative ideas with the rest of
us? Please contact us on nordpermafest at gmail . com or simply complete
the registration form on our website:

The festival is based on volunteers – and we need more! Do you feel like
helping out, before, during, or after the festival please do not hesitate
to contact us!


(Please note that we’re currently applying for funds, and as yet haven’t
calculated the costs. We promise one thing though, we’ll keep the fee as
low as we can – and the food excellent!)

Informationer om den funky fest

Hvor er det?

Gulereer ligger ved landsbyen Reerslev, ca. 4 km fra Hedehusene, stationen mellem Roskilde og Høje Tåstrup. Man kan tage bus nr. 116 imod Reerslev fra både Høje Tåstrup og Hedehusene station, bussen stopper lige overfor permahaven. Som regel skal man vente lidt længere på den i Hedehusene end Høje Tåstrup.

Man kan sagtens cykle, enten fra København ( 30 km) fra Høje Tåstrup (10 km) eller fra Hedehusene (4 km). Man kan også gå fra Hedehusene station, vejen hedder Reerslevvej og starter lige bag stationen.

Hvis man kommer på ben, med cykel eller i bil, så kører man fra Hedehusene imod Reerslev og kører gennem landsbyen og i udkanten overfor folkeskolen ligger haven, vejen hedder Tingstenen. Hvis man er i bil kan man parkere den på folkeskolens parkeringsplads.

Der er sandsynligvis kørelejlighed med en af de forskellige bil-ejere, det kan I jo lige forhøre Jer om hos mig eller André. 29805826 eller 23297192.

Hvis man kommer langvejs fra og gerne vil kan man jo sove derude fra Fredag til Mandag.

Til GPS-folk. Tingstenen, 2640 Hedehusene.

Hvornår er det?

I er inviteret til at komme op af eftermiddagen, 16-17 tiden Lørdag d. 25 Juni.

Men man er velkommen hele dagen – hjælpe til med  festopbygning, madlavning.

Vi håber nogen af Jer har lyst til at sove derude, vi har lånt naboens græsmark, som er ideel at slå telt op på. Man kan også sove indendørs i drivhusets slyngelstue-afdeling eller i Halmhuset, som vi dog forestiller os skal være børnehus til festen, men hvis du er for gammel og stiv til at ligge i et telt, så finder vi en seng til dig. Så vi har to dejlige dage at feste og hygge og lege og ha græs mellem tæerne.

Hvad skal man medbringe?

Noget at sove med og i. Det kan også være en hængekøje – vi har jo en lille skov.

Vigtigt: En tallerken og bestik – og gerne en kop. (hvis alle tager med slipper vi for skrald!)

Evt. en flaske drikkevand til div. kan være en god ide, vi trækker en haveslange fra naboen, men har ellers ikke rindende postevand derude, og selvom vi regner med at sørge for at der er nok, er det måske alligevel en god ide at medbringe en lille reserveflaske.

Evt. noget til grillen (bøf, fisk, veggeburger ect.) Vi laver en række grillsteder, det lokale folkekøkken laver hjemmedyrkede salater og altmuligt andet godt.

En flaske sprut/vin men kun hvis man har lyst, vi har et lille forråd. Vi tænker på at stille de medbragte flasker i baren, og så servere gratis cocktails og drinks.

Instrumenter. Vi har en scene og et band og nogle Djs,  der vil spille for os, men der er sikkert mange der bare gerne vil jamme omkring bålet. Underholdning…hvis du gerne vil lave et indslag, så er det jo megadeft, sig endelig til …ellers er I velkomne til at tage kroket, frisbees og kængutustyler, hulahopringe mm med.

Børnene! Ja tag dem med, vi har et halmhus lidt afsides, som vi håber kan fungere som børnestue mm.

En ting til vores tombola. Hvis alle tager en eller anden fin lille genstand med, laver vi en flot tombola-bod, sælger lodder til fem kr. og kan dermed finansiere lidt af festen på en sjov funky måde – og du får en sourvenir med hjem.

Der er ikke nogen rigtige toiletter derude, vi bygger verdens hyggeligste das, men bare så I ved det.


Øhm – næ ikke andet end at det er en grønsags-mm-have, så man skal tænke sig om hvor man går og leger og så’n – men det gir nok sig selv. Ja og pga af børnene, så er det en dårlig ide med hunde, så lad dem blive hjemme. Og vær flinke overfor naboer og landsbybeboere, selv hvis de er underlige, vi skal jo leve med dem mange år endnu. Ellers må I bare ringe/maile og spørge, jeps.

Program for festen.

Ankomst i løbet af Lørdagen

Rundvisninger, Teltopslåning, Leg, Hjælp med folkekøkkenet..

Vi spiser ved 19.30 tiden

Bålet bliver tændt ved 21 tiden

Musikken starter ved 22 tiden

Dansen går


Oprydning og chill


Årtusindets fodboldkamp: Permaholdet mod Verdensholdet, en kam på liv og død..

Måske kan vi nå en Svømmetur, 20 min. gåtur fra haven.

På gensyn

Med Ret til Forbedringer….



Husk at vejret spiller en funky rolle, vi har ikke tagkapacitet til alle…så..


Information about the funky Party

Where is it?

Gulereer is located at the village Reerslev, ca. 4 km from Hedehusene, a station between Roskilde and Høje Taastrup. about 20 min. from Copenhagen Central Station. You can take bus No. 116 to Reerslev from both Høje Tåstrup and Hedehusene station, the bus stops just opposite permahaven. Usually you must wait a little longer for the bus at Hedehusene than at Høje Taastrup, but check the time-schedule yourself. The last bus Saturday night?


One can easily bike, either from Copenhagen (30 km) from Høje Tåstrup (10 km) or from Hedehusene (4 km). You can also just walk from Hedehusene station, the road is called Reerslevvej and runs just behind the station.


Whether you come on feet, by bus, bike or car –  you drive from Hedehusene against Reerslev and continue through the village and on the outskirts opposite the primary school you’ll find the garden. The street is called Tingstenen. If you are coming by car you can park it in the school parking lot.

To the GPS-folks the zip is 2640 Hedehusene.


There will probably be a lift with one of the various car owners, just ask me or André. 29805826/23297192

If you come from afar and would like to stay longer, it is possible to sleep there from Friday to Monday

When is it?

You are invited to come on the afternoon of Saturday June 25th. We hope some of you want to sleep over, we have borrowed the neighbor’s pasture, which is ideal to camp on. There will also be a few improvised beds in the greenhouse’s  lounge-section or in the strawbale house, however, we envision that the strawbale house will be used as a children’s house during the party. But if you’re too old and stiff to be in a tent, let us find a bed for you so that we have two wonderful days to party and be funky and play and have grass between our toes.


What to bring?


Something to sleep with and in. It could be a hammock – we do have a small forest.


Important: A plate and cutlery – and perhaps a cup. (If everyone brings  we wont produce much waste!)


A bottle of drinking water is a good idea, we have no running water out there, and although we plan to make sure that there is enough, it is nevertheless a good idea to bring a small reserve bottle.


Perhaps something for the grill (steak, fish, veggieburger ect). We are making a large grill  and the local folk-kitchen will be making home-grown salads and all kinds of other goodies.


A bottle of booze – only if you like, we do have a little collection. We’re thinking of putting all the bottles in the bar, and then serve free cocktails and drinks.


Instruments! We do have a scene and band and Djs that will play for us, but there are probably many who just want to jam around the fire.


Entertainment … if you want to make a contribution, then that would obviously be supercool … otherwise, you are welcome to bring croquet, frisbees, kites, hula-hoops whatyoucanthinkof …


Kids! Yes bring them, we have a strawbale house, which we hope can serve as a kindergarden bed and breakfeast, perhaps even with somebody there to look after the young ones.


A funky little thing for our raffle. If everyone bring some nice little object, we create a beautiful raffle-stall, sell tickets for five kr and finance some of the festivities in a fun creative way – and you’ll get a sourvenir to bring home.


There are no toilets there, we’ll build the world’s coziest forest-toilet, but just so you know it.



Um – hhmm almost nothing… it is a vegetable garden, etc., so you must think about where you walk and play and be carefull – but that will probably be obvious. Oh yes and because of the kids, it’s a bad idea with dogs, let them stay at home. And be nice towards neighbors and village residents, even if they’re weird, we gotta live with them for many more years. Otherwise, just call / email and ask.



Program for the party.


Arrival Saturday


Guided Tours, pitching tents, playing, fun, Helping in the folk kitchen ..


We eat at around 19.30


The fire is lighted…  21


The music starts at 22


Dancing and boogiewoogie






Cleanup and chill





With Right of Improvements ….