|"Apology: To some of my friends who read this and are farmers. I imply no criticisms of or judgements on their farming methods and beg their forgiveness if anything I say is taken amiss. They are operating in this sad real world and have to comply with the New Economic (dis)Order and, with things as they are, they can do little else if they are to survive."||
MICROFARMS AND THE NEW ECONOMIC (dis-)ORDER
Microfarms are - have to be - labour intensive.
They are too small to justify any investment in expensive equipment so the microfarmer is a manual worker working square metres rather than hectares.
This misleads conventional economists into believing that they must therefore be inefficient and wasteful and therefore discouraged.
But what do they actually waste? On a per square metre basis, the machine is usually more wasteful than a manual worker.
Or do they just waste time? Wasting their time on such small plots? Time that could be spent farming a bigger area using a machine and producing marketable surpluses?
Look at this more carefully:
What is the cost of this time? What would the microfarmer be doing if he or she was not microfarming? What, in other words, is the Opportunity Cost of this time?
Farmers' Market in Queenstown, Sithandiwe in charge, ready for opening
There is a further issue here, too. One of the salient features of the New Economic (dis)Order is its own inherent wastefulness.
I suggest that it may be close to zero from the large numbers of apparently idle young people hanging around today. Or look at the un- and under-employment stats (often understated), to see just how many people are unemployed. On top of that, some countries even provide such unemployed people with social grants funded from general taxation, so giving this opportunity cost a negative value! But for ALL countries, mass unemployment and zero-hours contracts seem likely to dominate the future as Globalisation drives the race to the bottom - the NEW Economic Disorder.
So, scaling up, as the economists would like us to, will require a bigger piece of land, but not necessarily hiring more labour - machines are available also.
Farming hectares rather than square metres means going into the Land Market - either formally with money to buy or rent, or informally by agreement with traditional bureaucracies (Chiefs, Sheikhs etc), friends or relatives.
Neither route is easy, and land market value often greatly exceeds its production value. Remember Mark Twain: "Buy land, they ain't making it any more."
On the other hand, staying small and farming square metres rather than hectares means finding, and then borrowing, hiring or just occupying odd spaces in towns or on other people's land. Or a Revolution with the big estates being broken up.... Or use your own yard if it is big enough, or rent a municipal allotment. This avoids issues with banks, chiefs, and bureaucracies - although friends and relatives can change their minds. A bit insecure perhaps, but less insecure than unemployment and being hungry.
VG operating our 'Ultimate recycler' - the Fertility Cycle's New Economic Order
All the above - if we continue to allow this waste - could be processed on the spot:
- Vast amounts of food must be, or are, thrown away - best-before dates and our constant need for dietary titillation drive this and food thrown away is still rated as part of GDP
- Elaborate sewerage systems conduct our excreta safely away into the distance, carried along on pure water - draining reservoirs and spoiling rivers
- Garden "waste" is banished by fire or joins the wasted food in landfill - good on the eye but not for greenhouse gas emissions.
- Waste food, if not composted in a rodent-proof container, can be fed to a biodigester (methane recovered), residue bagged and supplied to local microfarmers (jobs created)
- Replacing flush sanitation with compost toilets in rural areas and microfarms would be the ultimate recycler. In cities, urine-separating toilets would enable this most valuable fraction of our excreta to be recovered (job creation again) for (micro)farm use and so reduce general water use and pollution of rivers.
- Garden waste can be treated as food waste, but it can also be composted on a neighbourhood scale and used by local microfarmers.