Would you do this in your garden?

What I can’t understand is why the conventional approach to growing food has changed so much since my Grandad’s day. Why are we now so much more interested in pushing the land beyond its natural limits, the results of which are evident everywhere. Look at our rivers and lakes, look at the algal blooms that starve the water of its oxygen turning the water to a putrid green in our summers. This was not always the case. The excessive application of fertilisers including liquid manure must end up somewhere.

My granddads farm was a mixed farm, and he grew his own vegetables in his garden. What has happened to our food system since his time, that now as farmers we are actively encouraged to concentrate on monocultures for the sake of efficiency. What has happened to the idea that diversity is the very route to true health on a farm and only through diversity can biodiversity thrive.

Without diversity our planet will start to turn in on itself and we see this globally now, but we also see it in the intensification of the farming practices here in Ireland which are leading to bigger more industrial farming that feed our export driven model of food production.

But what happens to all the little things that are supposed to share the land with us on farms when we continually intensify, all the little things that make all the difference, the little worms in the ground, the little bees and insects that feed the birds, the little fish in the lakes, and the myriad of bacteria in the soil? They disappear.

The increasing application of chemicals on our food destroys biodiversity. We now even have a new name for some of these additions that are added to the sprays, ‘forever chemicals’, as if a systemic carcinogen like glyphosate wasn’t bad enough now we need to package it up in something that never goes away. Are we mad, have we lost the run of ourselves?

Why on earth would we ever consider spraying any of these things on our food. Would you eat out of your garden, having coated your food in an array of chemical insecticides?
The food system is becoming more and more concentrated in the hands of a few, and the whole system is a giant integrated money-making machine: the chemicals, the patents on the seeds we sow, the byproducts from the mass production of crops which in turn has led to the proliferation of the ultra-processed food industry and this feeds an ever-voracious food retail industry ruled by the gatekeepers the giant supermarkets themselves. Where is the place for biodiversity there?

Certainly, when I remember the colour and vibrancy in my grandad’s garden and the way he farmed it was a million miles away from how agriculture looks today. That is what we need to get back to, we need to get back to growing our own food and understanding what goes into that, and why it is so important to keep connected to our how our food is produced.
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