The “Regional Mosaic” of Permanent Agriculture
As we navigate through this Monsanto-free minefield for six weeks, we have the overt goals of getting people to stop eating genetically modified foods and to contribute to international efforts at having GM products clearly labeled. Yet, the foundation of that goal is seeking transformative social justice in which people reclaim autonomy and power over the food systems which sustain us from the multinational corporations which have appropriated them. What does that transformation look like? How do we get there?
At last Saturday’s Northeastern Organic Farmers Association, New Jersey’s (NOFA-NJ) annual winter conference at Princeton University, Andrew Faust of the Center for Bioregional Living hosted a workshop on the concept of a bioregional economy that encompasses a confluence of issues: restoration ecology, land use equity, sustainable agriculture, responsible economy, and social justice. It is about development of agricultural practices in context with a deeper look at the landscape of the region, appropriate to the geography and heritage of the place. It is about accountable stewardship of urban cityscapes to dramatically reduce the enormous waste generated by those spaces.
Andrew asks, “How do we retrofit this infrastructure to be more ecologically sound and socially responsible?” He seeks the answer to this question in permaculture, articulating the interconnectedness of ecology and economy and describing tangible, simple, and yet somehow revolutionary urban and rural designs .
Ultimately, Andrew Faust wants us to begin to “nurture our nature” rather than our culture, as our culture often has misguided ideas. So as we think about a people-focused food web to replace the corporate-dominated food chain, it is to insightful and brilliant thinkers and doers like Andrew we could turn for guidance and inspiration.
As overwhelming as this Monsanto-free endeavor feels at times, we can take heart in knowing people like Andrew are out there, propagating a wisdom from which all of us can benefit.