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land distribution if majority of people become farmers due to peak oil and an agrarian economy.  RSS feed

 
Wesley johnsen
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if the energy crisis is not solved then what type of economy would we have? an agrarian? and if people in big cities were to become farmers then how would they get land to farm? would rural farmers be forced to subdivide to allow people to farm 6 acres with intensive agriculture? would all our wilderness get cleared to farm? these are the questions that have been on my mind for a while. and last what about jobs like what would people do in cities if they were not farming like say the city of france before electricity? would people in ecovillages fight over who gets to farm the land?
 
John Elliott
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What you will see is cities emptying out and people returning to small villages where they can have their field nearby. If you look at maps from 80 to 100 years ago, right at the time when the U.S. was going through a road paving boom, you will see lots and lots of small towns, under 1000 people, that have disappeared from today's maps. Not like ghost towns of the Old West, just one stop sign towns that kind of faded into oblivion. Maybe all that is left today is a cemetery, and you wonder "why would people put a cemetery here, there's no town nearby? Well there was, and now it's gone.

If you want a modern example, look at the country of Poland. Rural Poland has lots of small towns, some just a wide spot in the road with a bus stop. Looks a lot like Iowa or Illinois, but with one big difference. From the air, Iowa and Illinois have huge square fields, some a mile on a side. Rural Poland is a patchwork quilt of long narrow fields, lots of strips of differing sizes. Some are 20m by 200m, others might be 30m by 500m, maybe someone else has divided up his field into smaller substrips of 10m by 100m. The fields are only a couple of hectares (~6 acres), so yes, they are farming that intensively. There people live in the towns and villages and only go out to the fields when work has to be done. They don't "live on the farm" like they do in IA and IL. When the winters are as long as they are in Poland, you don't need to live right on top of your potato patch, since you would have to cross-country ski into town 4 or 5 months of the year.

Even the smallest of towns out in the country can have a lively market on a Saturday morning. People bring what they have harvested, or what they have made, or what they have stored up to trade, and a brisk business takes place during which you can find all manner of items, including the latest cheap trinkets stamped "Made in China" (in English, because English is the language of global commerce). It's pretty much the same story in other agrarian lesser-developed countries. There is one sector of agriculture that is modern and it is geared for export, but traditional agriculture is still at the one farmer, one field level, and he harvests and stores his crop until he can take it to the local market to sell.
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
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Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
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Rural Japan still has tons of tiny farming villages. The average farm is maybe 5-7 acres, and many are much smaller. Houses are clustered into small villages which might be 5-15 houses. In many of these small rural communities, there are still cooperatively organized work activities. Unfortunately, the average farmer is 60+ years old and rural depopulation that has been simmering for half a century is about to boil over.

A big influence that has caused Japan to retain somewhat of a small village farming model, despite a first world economy (high cost of living and high paying city jobs) is land reform that took place following WWII. Prior to WWII, much Japanese farmland was owned by temples or rich families (former samurai class). It was farmed by poor peasants. After defeating Japan, the US wanted to set up a satellite state that would NOT turn communist, so aggressive land reform was pushed through. The idea was that a large base of rural landowners, even if they were small farms, would be interested in property rights and therefore favor capitalism over communism. Well, it worked. Rural Japan helped keep the LDP in power almost continuously for the last 60 years. It is ironic that the US violated property rights in order to create loyalty to the idea of property rights.

If we go through a peak oil collapse, there are many possible solutions, but land reform of some sort will be necessary or we return to feudalism. One possibility is that the break-up of mega farms proceeds due to economic pressures of topsoil loss, plus rising prices for fuel, ferts and irrigation. My great hope for the future is that some form of voluntarism and co-operativism comes into vogue, rather than land being seized by some central authority and inefficiently diced up and split among the plebes. We do have social, financial and governance models that would create win-win-win scenarios, but there are obvious resistances.
 
Tom OHern
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What a long term energy crisis will cause it a return to small farms. The big mega farms will not be broken up by force, but due to the fact that one cannot farm more than about 10 acres without mechanized labor and that with out a constant supply of cheap oil, farmers who had 1000 acre farms will see the vast majority of their land going fallow. They will be forced to sell due to economic reasons in that they will not be able to afford paying taxes on the unproductive land.

I think we can look at Cuba as a good example of what will happen in the cities. They had an artificial energy crisis happen to them when the USSR collapsed. We saw that they had their city dwellers tearing up their lawns to grow food and lots of community farms started popping up. Farmers started becoming much more valuable. And I think people who move out of the cities now and start adapting land for non-mechanized farming before an energy crisis will be well positioned to take advantage of the situation as well as be a teacher to others who will follow.
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
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Tom OHern wrote:What a long term energy crisis will cause it a return to small farms. The big mega farms will not be broken up by force, but due to the fact that one cannot farm more than about 10 acres without mechanized labor and that with out a constant supply of cheap oil, farmers who had 1000 acre farms will see the vast majority of their land going fallow. They will be forced to sell due to economic reasons in that they will not be able to afford paying taxes on the unproductive land.


I agree many will be forced to sell. But who is going to buy their land? Legions of poor urbanites fleeing the cities because they can't afford to eat? Or neo-fuedal landlords who will farm their land with armies of modern serfs?

Tom OHern wrote:I think we can look at Cuba as a good example of what will happen in the cities. They had an artificial energy crisis happen to them when the USSR collapsed. We saw that they had their city dwellers tearing up their lawns to grow food and lots of community farms started popping up. Farmers started becoming much more valuable. And I think people who move out of the cities now and start adapting land for non-mechanized farming before an energy crisis will be well positioned to take advantage of the situation as well as be a teacher to others who will follow.


The Cuba example is a hopeful one, but that occurred in a socialist country where all resources were owned by the state, making the transition a relatively straightforward shift in policy. The US is well down the road to outright oligarchy. So far, rising resource prices have only increased the devastation caused by global finance capitalism, and the poor suffer inflation while the ultra-wealthy benefit from asset inflation and continue to consolidate their grasp on more and more of the world's resources. I lack confidence in the 'invisible hand' of the market to correct the imbalances, and even less confidence in US government to make wise policy.

By no means am I a 'doomer', but I believe it will be up to 'us' to design creative solutions to transition from a finance capitalist empire to a agrarian permatopia.
 
Tom OHern
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yukkuri kame wrote:
I agree many will be forced to sell. But who is going to buy their land? Legions of poor urbanites fleeing the cities because they can't afford to eat? Or neo-fuedal landlords who will farm their land with armies of modern serfs?


There are laws preventing neo-feudal landlord situations from occurring and an energy crisis will not nullify those laws. That is only going ot happen in a doomer-type With Out Rule of Law situation and I don't think that is likely. But there will be lots of farmers that will set up share cropping agreements and others that will sell outright to urbanites fleeing the cities. The difference between what will probably happen and a feudal system is that people will have options. If you don't like the first situation you get into, there will be other places you can go. I can imagine there will be plenty of farmers that will do a WWOOFing type arrangement and that will evolve into many other forms of landownership.

yukkuri kame wrote:The Cuba example is a hopeful one, but that occurred in a socialist country where all resources were owned by the state, making the transition a relatively straightforward shift in policy. The US is well down the road to outright oligarchy. So far, rising resource prices have only increased the devastation caused by global finance capitalism, and the poor suffer inflation while the ultra-wealthy benefit from asset inflation and continue to consolidate their grasp on more and more of the world's resources. I lack confidence in the 'invisible hand' of the market to correct the imbalances, and even less confidence in US government to make wise policy.

By no means am I a 'doomer', but I believe it will be up to 'us' to design creative solutions to transition from a finance capitalist empire to a agrarian permatopia.


I can imagine that there will be states/cities/jurisdictions that will use eminent domain laws to cease land from corporations that put a lock-down on resources if the imbalances get too out of control. And if that turns out to be effective, then other jurisdictions will follow suit. That is the cool part of living in a federation of states; experiments in the various states will show the best way forward. It won't be the federal government that fixes the issues you bring up, but the state land local governments.
 
Wesley johnsen
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do you think we can have majority of people farming while not clearing any forests? and do you think farmers could still own like 20 to 150 acres of farmland if an agrarian economy were to come back? conservation easements prevent subdividing and to much development.
 
S Bengi
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Easement and laws are made to be changed/broken. Without fuel there is no use for a 10+ acre farm per family, now as to how you want to legally partition it.
It could be serfs, or sharecropper, workers, the gov could use eminent domain and resell it in 6acre parcel or for free or just socialize/communize it with paid workers, it could be sold by the land owner.

10+ acre farm per family is doable if you raising cows/animals and not growing plants. In certain ares "desert" you might need 100 acres of farmland but only farm 2 acres because the rest is used as water catchment and one would only farm in the creekbeds/etc.

Maybe we will move to a more water/fish based diet thus needing "less" land. USA is a net exporter of food and a food forest done right is more productive than a monocrop regular farm so we would not need to cut down forestland. But I still see it as something that would be done and I am not really oppose to it.

Wesley johnsen wrote:do you think we can have majority of people farming while not clearing any forests? and do you think farmers could still own like 20 to 150 acres of farmland if an agrarian economy were to come back? conservation easements prevent subdividing and to much development.
 
Wesley johnsen
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what should the blueprint be for this type of system where everyone is farmers and at the same time not build houses everywhere on 6 acres? i have seen and herd of clustered development where they build 30 homes and one communal gathering house all on just 4 acres and the rest preserved as open space and people run their profitable micro farm on the land. how can we balance communal life with a second home/cabin in the woods for privacy? do you think cabins should be allowed? here is a prime example of what i am talking about with development and farms.

http://www.cobbhill.org/main/enterprises
 
S Bengi
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I dont think that they need the communal housing. All they should have is the cabins and they might not even need 6 acres its possible that just 3 acres is needed.
 
Logan Streondj
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I'm really interested in intentional communities, and they are indeed quite similar to primitive tribal societies, and even atoms, averaging about 50-60 members (iron nickel), stable up to about 200 (gold), with majority being small groups, couples or individuals (hydrogen helium).

masanobu fukuoka one of the pioneers of seedball forest gardening suggested as little as a part of an acre of arable land is enough per person. Anastasia material says about a hectare per family is sufficient. Of course robert hart's forest garden was a mere 0.12 acres and was enough to provide them a large amount of produce.

If there was a mass move back to the land, regulators would be pressured to change zoning laws to allow smaller plots. Though even with large plots it's possible using clustered development as someone already mentioned. Clustered development makes sense, especially for intentional communities, since for instance in an atom, the nucleus holds together, and has an area around in which the electron orbits. unfortunately most clustered development however keeps the cluster at one of the edges of the property rather than the centre, so people that have plots farther off may not like it very much, though can always do strip development, for more equitable distribution of land,
some of the closest could be part of the "community commons".
I was thinking that could have golden-ratio split of 40-60 communal to private property land in the community.

With permaculture seedball forest gardening, forests are actually encouraged and it would be similar to a reforestation, with accompanying increase in biodiversity. Deserts can also be reclaimed, and indeed many people have reclaimed deserts with permaculture practices, using a slough and seedballs, once some perennial plants are established they will retain moisture and attract rain clouds.
The main thing is to have a polyculture that has a variety of plants that compliment each other and provide a complete diet, attracting plants, animals and people.

In terms of land distribution, that would mean a lot more of the land would become habitable, as organic permaculture would rejuvenate the planet, reclaim the deserts, and heal the aquifers. It would be a re-greening a reforesting of the planet. For instance many of the places that used to be the most fertile in the past, have now become desert wastelands, such as the fertile crescent, northern africa (sahara), and the dust bowl, all of those with the help of seedball permaculture forest gardening could be converted to back to and beyond their previous states of fertile abundance.

Up here in Canada, most people are hugging the border, mostly because they only know french/english agriculture and plants, and never bothered adapting to the environment that is here. Assuming people do, by growing hardy plants that can grow in cold climates, and learn to harvest the flying insects for protein, it'll mean people could spread out from the border and inhabit farther north sustainably.

Permaculture forestry is also different from current lumber practices, so for instance sick, broken and overly dense trees would be cut out for lumber, and the patch of light that it creates in the canopy would be filled in with berries, annuals and other low growing trees.
Forest gardening usually means maintaining a young-forest all the time, so that all the layers get light, but with large enough tracts, it's possible to allow some to grow taller and older, for mushrooms and old-growth species to flourish more.
 
Wesley johnsen
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there are many options to how the land should be distributed. I saw in a book once that had an areal photo of a town and on the outskirts was farm properties with no houses. while hear in the states it is like every property has a house plus the towns and cities. I want to some day start a conservation business but was wandering if any body can think of a book that talks about how the land should be distributed.
 
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