Why farmpunk?

A farmpunk could be described as a neo-agrarian who approaches [agri]culture, community development and/or design with an anarchistic hacker ethos. "Cyber-agrarian" could supplant neo-agrarian, indicating a back-to-the-land perspective that stands apart from past movements because it is heavily informed by conceptual integration in a post-industrial information society (thus "forward to the land" perhaps?) The art and science of modern ecological design—and ultimately, adapting to post-collapse contexts—will be best achieved through the combined arts of cybermancy and geomancy; an embrace of myth and ritual as eco-technologies. In other words: the old ways of bushcraft and woodlore can be combined with modern technoscience (merely another form of lore) in open and decentralized ways that go beyond pure anarcho-primitivism. This blog is an example of just that. Throughout, natural ecologies must be seen as the original cybernetic systems.

**What we call for at the farmpunk headquarters**
°Freedom of information
°Ground-up action + top-down perspectives
°Local agricultural systems (adhering to permaculture/biodynamic principles) as the nuclei of economies
°Bioregional autonomy
°Computers are optional but can be used for good—see peer to peer tech, social media for direct popular management of natural or political disasters (e.g. Arab Spring), or the mission of the hacker collective Anonymous

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"This is Not a Farm"

Below I'm pasting my girlfriend's most recent blog post on her rehabilitated Tumblr account!

She definitely speaks for both of us with her core sentiment - that we are seeking to do something that perhaps isn't as accurately described by "farming" as we once thought.

I thought it was, but I was wrong.

What I’m doing, and what I want to do, is not the same as farming. I thought it was, but I was wrong. To me, farming is production agriculture. The activity of farming is to seek to extract profit from the soil, in the form of food products. When I began this journey I thought that’s what I wanted, and so farming was a stand-in for any sort of profit-seeking activity. It was my job.

It’s a hard job. For a year I worked as an intern or apprentice on small farms that were operating at (and beyond) the limits of what can be extracted from the soil by human energy with a minimum of fossil-fueled assistants. So I hoed a lot, I crawled a lot, I scratched the soil with my own two hands. A lot. I baked in the sun and shivered in the morning frost. By the end of the 13 months I was understandably burned out on the whole farming thing. My back developed a very painful protest to the action of bending, lifting, weeding, and especially to walking on my knees while lifting.

I had learned a lot about vegetable production in the only way I really like to learn: through experience. But I also had decided it was not a feasible career for me. It wasn’t just because it hurt so much. I figured a good routine of weight-lifting and yoga could fix that. It was also because I deeply felt that the acts of farming, unless accompanied by near-religious composting, were detrimental to the soil. At the end of my farming summer in Vermont I could see the tired, compacted, dried up naked earth complaining. I could see that the tons of crops we had extracted from this soil had not left the place better than when we found it (and as this is the golden rule of girl scouts, I don’t take it lightly!).

For the past year I’ve been mulling over my gleeful exodus from the “farming” of production ag. Since May my partner and I have been playing with the land in a new way, and now as the growing season comes to a close, I feel the need to articulate what’s meaningful about this leg of my journey with the earth.

I’m not the only young person I know who is engaged on a similar path. Many still call what they do “farming”, and this name remains meaningful to them. But to others I know, the models of production agriculture are not satisfying. They’re not enough.

We may be growing edible plants and raising livestock animals for food, but we’re not seeking to extract profit from the land. We are seeking something else, and we are doing so through an ever-deeper relationship with the land and natural processes. But it is the seeking something else that really matters, and it is, I think, what guides our work—more than the desire to grow food to sell.

So what are we doing? What are you doing? What does it look like? What does it bring you beyond delicious meals? I want to know. Let’s put images and thoughts into this framework. Help flesh it out.

Perhaps if we do so, we’ll help create a new set of options for other seekers. You don’t have to be a “farmer”, there are many ways to seek nativity to the land, to a place. But seek for answers from the land itself, instead of just from culture.


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