TED Conversations

Brady Forrest

Tech Evangelist, O'Reilly Radar


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Can biodynamic farms scale?

I am struck by the system that Dan describes in his talk:
A fish farmer says "We farm extensively, not intensively. This is an ecological network. The flamingos eat the shrimp. The shrimp eat the phytoplankton. So the pinker the belly, the better the system."

It's reminiscent of the biodynamic farm that Michael Pollan describes in his book The Omnivore's Dilemma. The cows eat the grass, the chickens eat the worms from cow patties, the grass grows from the nitrogen-rich chicken droppings.

These systems are both beautiful in their simplicity, but are they scalable?


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    Feb 17 2011: As one of the founders of sustentator.com and a Permaculture student and fan I would answer YES.
    But the real question is HOW? How can these be done in a scalable way. And the real answer is that it can only be done through extensive education. In my opinion this would mean that kids turn out of school knowing about creating edible landscapes, about realtionship of the elements in a farm, about the connections needed to develop a low work, high output system that requires very little from outside.
    I would say that to have our kids go out of school without even knowing how to grow there are own food is preparing them for slavery. They WILL have to work to eat. It's as simple as that.
    Why are we doing it? Because, as Sir Ken Robison explained so brilliantly in his TED Talks, current education was built in the 19th century, when we needed a lot of factory workers to fuel the industrial revolution. That course of action, which was correct at that time, has to be modified to allow a more integral education system that teaches the basic skill of observation of relationships in an ecosystem. and how to take advantage of them. Indigenous people around the world know about this and pass it along to their kids. They all can survive with surrounding resources.
    Why are we creating people that doesn't even know how to live in this earth? It really puzzles me and separates us from the earth in ways that creates enormous harm.
    So, can these farms scales? YES. What we need is a change in sensibility and only through a change in education to respect the value of integration with our planet, we will achieve this.

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