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Growing food for systems change: Can it change the world?

Can growing food really help face the waves of crises we face today? This article shares the brilliant ways transforming our food systems can impact the world.

Growing food for systems change Can it change the world

Can growing food really help face the waves of crises we face today? There’s a movement emerging that answers with a loud ‘Yes!’. It is tucked away in community gardens feeding people and creating sanctuaries for wildlife in our cities, in the country where community-supported agriculture and new models of agroforestry are pioneering regenerative ways of growing food at scale, and in the boundaries between, where cooperative market gardens bring together the best of both.

The movement goes by many names depending on scale, ambition and philosophy. Some call it Permaculture, Regenerative Agriculture, Biodynamic or Natural Farming. All are part of what we can call agroecology, and all reject the premise of the so-called ‘Green Revolution’ of the last 70 years that we need vast quantities of pesticides, artificial fertilisers and genetically modified crops to feed ourselves. The people doing it, however, see their work as about much more than growing food. The crises of climate change, ecological destruction, health, inequality and poverty show clearly that something fundamental about how we organise society needs to change. While it’s not clear exactly how this transformation will evolve, this movement gestures towards a new system entirely.

The change starts with the land and ripples outwards. Fundamentally, agroecology means building up the fertility of the land rather than depleting it. It means protecting and adding to soil health, creating habitats for wildlife and breaking industrial agriculture’s dependence on pesticides and artificial fertilisers. It also often also involves alternative ethical approaches to growing that include acknowledging and respecting the whole ecosystem, supporting existing relationships to thrive and shifting our relationship with the rest of the living world from an extractive one to a collaborative one.

Greg Frey

Greg is mostly thinking/writing/talking with pals about resistance in the Anthropocene, living near the Lea River a few miles up from where it meets the Thames, and navigating various chronic... Read more

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