Discussion on disappearing farmland ( Environmental)greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
The last few days while listening to the Paul Harvey commentaries, I have heard him covering the topic of "disappearing farmland in America". The gist of the info is that a combination of changing social values, economic hard times, acceptance of new technology and plain old fashion greed and determination of material success has resulted in a dramatic increase in value of farmland in close proximity of urban sprawl areas of the U.S. Mr. Harvey's reports indicate that should this trend continue, this country's reputation of being agriculturally self sufficient will end. If this were to happen, it could affect our modern homesteading value lifestyles also. This is why I thouhgt to submit it as a discussion topic.
IMO- A solution has to come about that will be able to meet both needs of our society. The agricultural and the industrial concerns are both important elements . Each depends on the other for the best environment for pursuit of its own interests. It takes farm machinery and technology to produce the yeilds neccesary to feed the people building the equipment and providing the technology. I have thought for some time that buildings with rooftops designed to accomodate agricultural growth could be a step in the right direction and could be a step toward not only producing foodstuffs but also lowering urban thermal conditions by increasing green belt dimensions. I saw a site on urban gardens sponsored by a Canadian city that shows real potential of city gardening and farming. I can almost see in my mind an industrial food animal containment farm constructed in such a way that the animals are in a clean underground environment with all sewage and gases being composted and digested on site to produce ready fertilizer for fields that are tended on the roofs of the barns and natural fuel sources for industries in the area. Sorry if I sound like one of those old Popular Science "world of the future" articles, but I am just "looking outside the box in my dreams a little". What are some of your thoughts on the disappearing farmland and possible solutions?
-- Jay Blair in N. AL (email@example.com), September 30, 2001
Let's all become vegetarians!
USDA figures state:
about 90% of soy grown..... about 80% of corn...... about 66% of exported grain......
is livestock feed!
Talk about "disappearing farmland in America".....that's where it's being used!
Or at least eat only the meat that you have grown on you own homestead.
I am not one who does this....but it wouldn't be a stretch for me to convert. In fact I am making a vow to myself to accomplish the goal of producing ALL the meat my family consumes on our homestead. We have a pond (fish)...chickens(eggs only for now)....rabbits seem to be the next step.
I read somewhere....can't recall where (and I know someone here will correct me if I'm wrong)....but it said 1 acre of good cattle pasture land could grow 10,000 lbs of carrots AND 15,000 lbs of potatoes....far exeeding the food value of the beef it would produce.
Urban sprawl is ugly....but "outside the box" are other reasons for it.
Roof top gardens and underground animals sound fantastic...I'd love to see a city like that!
-- Jason (AJAMA5@netscape.net), September 30, 2001.
Some years back I read an article about an experiment in Japan where a hydroponic operation was on the roof of a 3 story building, the basement was a fish tank for tapalipa (sp?), the family lived on the ground floor, second floor was for chicken and rabbits and a green house was on the third floor for container grown fruit trees. The fish wastes supplied the hydroponic needs for nutrient, as did the hydroponic folage supplied the livestock, wet and dry. The family benifited from all sources and had excess to sell.
As for the land issue, this has all ready happened in Orlando. The appearance of Dismal World, The Tragic Kingdom; has caused such growth that there is no more orange groves in the area, the last of them froze out in 1988 due to changing thermal patterns. And ten cows on twenty acres do not pay as much taxes as does fifty $250000.00 houses occupied by people, some wearing turbans, others with names you cannot pronounce. But never fear, nature is correcting that as we speak; Florida is running out of water and in 30 to 50 years it will be a useless desert. Orange County (Orlando) politicians were so intent on running out farmers that they required a permit, certified drawing, mulitipal inspections, for farm barns and fences in ag zoned property; the state finally steped in and put things back to normal after the farmers withered away. And property has shot up beyond belief.
-- mitch hearn (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 30, 2001.
I agree, Nature is and will re-take what man has arrogantly thought he had under his control. I just read a few articles regarding the overpumping of groundwaters worldwide. In places such as India, China and yes, the U.S., groundwater aquifers are being pumped to a FAR greater degree than they are being recharged. Yup, it is only a matter of time before humans see that their current way of life (and their current numbers) are NOT sustainable. Unfortunately, given man's history and personality, he will not learn this lesson until he has pumped the last drop from the last aquifer and then experiences a drought!
-- Lisa (email@example.com), September 30, 2001.
Jay- I've been interested in this topic for a very long time, early eighties in fact, I have read a great deal about sustainable agriculture, and my sister has done S.A. projects in Dominican Republic as well as urban community garden projects. I'm not paniced about it,(maybe I should be) but I find it interesting. We've done some things as a family to adress this problem-We are eating much less meat-and have given up McDonalds-(a curious note-we hadn't eaten anytype fast food in months-we did last week and it made two of us sick!) I don't want to sound like a goodie two shoes here and say-lets all give up big macs and save the rainforest-diminishing farmland,its difficult, but it can be done. I have experimented with container/rooftop gardens, and I'm currently working on a heavy mulched intensive garden-a la John Jeavons and Co. In fact just today I was reading about growing grains in small areas-theres lots that people can do if they would,-every little bit would help.
-- Kelly (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 30, 2001.
I've worked mostly in a peripheral way with "sustainable development" in my state. Some of the concepts being worked with include more concentrated housing instead of the typical 1-5 acre tracts some of the upper scale burbs get split into. Then leave the remaining tract in it's natural state under the control of the homeowners association as greenspace and a park for the burb. Reduces the conversion to impervious cover drastically while maintaining some habitat. Much more effort needs doing in redevelopement and "recolonizing" the crumbling inner cities. Sprawl housing is just one aspect, don't even get me started on mini-malls and big box retailers! Their parking lots and roofs should are essentially point sources of pollution. Storm water issues drive a lot of this work in the different muninicpalities so "impervious cover" is the buzz word in these circles. Did you know that a mowed lawn on suburban backfill soils is nearly as imprevious to water as concrete? The more hard surfaces you have in a watershed the more and faster (and more polluted) the storm water becomes.
-- Susan (email@example.com), September 30, 2001.
Urban is crawling fast in Tulsa, okla. I use to work on the east side of tulsa. When I first started our company building was right on the edge of any developement. After 6 years of employment, development had passed us about 2 miles east. Now after about 20 years total the development has passed the old company about 6 or 7 miles. And on the edge of that there is more and more farmland up for sale. 200 to 500 acre farm/ranches are being busted down to 30- 40 acre developments. I figure that in about 100 more years Tulsa will have reached the Arkansas state line.
-- r.h. in okla. (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 30, 2001.
Kelly and Susan both address interesting points on depleted rain forests and the large parking lot and asphalt troubles in metro areas. We had a fat chewing discussion at work once and decided to do a little net searching on both topics. What we found was quite interesting. One of the urban garden sites suggested that if at least 30 percent of urban roofspace world wide were to be made capable of sustaining plant growth, rain forest depletion effects could be practically under control while reducing thermal chimney effects of the urban areas. The other site we accessed suggested that large parking areas could be used as potential thermal energy collection sources to provide electrical power through use of greenhouse type collectors.
-- Jay Blair in N. AL (email@example.com), September 30, 2001.
OK- heres a thought-does anyone remember mass transit? Yeah, its not as convienent, or as statis-y (I just made up that word) as driving yourself but if we had a decent Mass Transit system in this country- at least in cities-and if people would use it- that alone would way reduce square area of asphalt. My husband lived in inner city Baltimore-car insurence-registration were so expensive, and traffic so bad, he put his car up on blocks for six months! He was able to go anywhere he wanted to go on the bus system-or his own two feet- think of how many parking spots alone that would save? My Grandmother tells about when she was a young woman in 1920's, her family took the train to the nearest town-about ten miles away to do saterday shopping. She rode the train to town on Mondays, to do "Town shopping" When my children were small, we would sometimes want to visit Grandparents who lived two hours away-how we would have loved to have taken the train, where you could walk a fussy babby or intertain a toddler and not have a grumpy spouse shouting "Quit kicking the Seat" What about bicycles? It would be more difficult in rural areas,I suppose. Another option, if you have computer access-is online shopping, which we are doing more and more of, which would eleviate parking apace, I can't remember the last time i've been to a shooping mall-you can take my parking space and plant greenery there!-just a thought. K
-- Kelly (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 01, 2001.
kelly - I made up a similar word in another post - statusfying, as in "Riding a bus may not be as statusfying as driving a Lexus, but neither is having to eat tasty "Bar-O-Nutrients" made from algae because your McMansion ate up the last piece of arable farmland."
-- Soni (email@example.com), October 01, 2001.
We are surely a like-minded group. Seems we all moved outside the city limits for the life: less people/traffic/hassles and more involvement with providing our basic, daily needs: home/food/family connections. My area is, like so many others it seems, becoming encroached upon by the ever-spreading city limits. And as more and more farm land is sold off to developers, the future promises more of the blight we thought had been left behind. Our county is devided on the issue of preserving the agricultural areas that are left. Those who fear the spread of urban development are in favor of the proposition (a California creation),but the land owners are dead set against anyone passing legislation that limits their rights to do as they please with this farm land. They feel that if they can make $50-100 K per acre by selling to developers, then you better stand clear of them. If you want to "save the farm" then buy it from them yourself. Well, my neighborhood (5-mile radius) has been in and out of court over the past 3 years fighting this very issue: A developer bought 12 acres in the center of our community and wants to build a strip mall and office mall. In order to do so, he had to get the nearest city (1/2 mile to the city limit) to extend its sewer to the site and then get the county to change the zoning. Well, it seems that the city thought it could just run its sewer out into the county until we went door to door and raise the money to challenge them in court. The court found in our favor and the sewer deal was cancelled. The city didn't think it needed to do an environmental impact study since they intended to annex the land once the development was completed and do it then. So we won round one against the developer, but we had to raise $30,000 to do it. (Yes, the court ordered the city to pay back 75% of it, but that was another court case). Now the developer is going straight to the county to get the zoning changed so he can do the project on septic. I guess our fight is not over yet. We may prevail, but then we have a county supervisor who has done everything in his power to aid this developer. They have a long history of business deals together. So you see, its not a matter of farm land disappearing because most people don't care. We have over 650 people listed in our group that opposed this developer, one person. But we had to take it to court and prove, on a legal basis that it should not be allowed to go forward. But money speaks louder that words and the city and county officials are looking for increased tax revenues. Farm land doesn't bring in much in comparison. It would have been a done deal if a group of 5 people hadn't had the tenacity and commitment to hold this neighborhood group together for 3 years and to fight city hall. Cities are the law unless challenged and proven otherwise. I think that this will be the scenario in most agricultural areas within 50-100 miles of any major city limit as more and more people move outwards for bigger homes and less crowded developments. There is a huge financial incentive to build on this land and take it out of production. Its an endless cycle.
-- Dwight (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 01, 2001.
In response to the vegetarianism idea... fact is, that most land used for grain production should not be plowed at all. That land was designed for grass production. And on one acre of grass, you can produce far more calories of meat, than you can calories of grain or other vegetables. Farming for meat production doesnt have to be destructive to the environment. In fact, I reccommend Joel Salatin's books "Salad Bar Beef" and "Pastured Poultry Profits" for an explanation of how it is done.
-- daffodyllady (email@example.com), October 01, 2001.