Over the past century, America’s agricultural landscape has become economically and biologically impoverished as policy makers have championed a single goal over all others: yield. Today, with 100s of millions of acres of America’s heartland dominated by subsidized high yield monocultures, these lands are among the poorest of the nation. Rooted in centuries of economic and ecological research and practice, the new book Growing In (link) outlines the bond between diverse agricultural landscapes and a resilient economy (i.e., sustainable, self-regulating, self-reliant). Not only are more diverse agricultural landscapes more profitable for farmers, but they harness more energy, enhance economic stability, improve employment and wages, and grant ecological and societal values that go far beyond mere yield.
What is Agricultural Restoration?
AloTerra defines Agricultural Restoration as “Methods that increase the diversity, productive capacity, and profitability of farmlands.” The methods we pursue are similar to regenerative agriculture, with the exception that Agricultural Restoration must result in increased profitability for the farmer. For it is profitability that attracts investment, and from such investment agricultural restoration methods may be implemented on a scale that leads to meaningful change. The goals of our Agricultural Restoration projects include:
- Vastly increased biological and agricultural diversity
- Increased carbon storage in restored soils
- Greater and more stable profitability, employment, and economic health of America’s rural regions
- Restored watershed health, so as to improve water quality for downstream communities
The Economic, Social, and Ecological Justifications for Agricultural Restoration
AloTerra’s agricultural restoration mission was born out of 25 years of ecological and economic research and practice, which culminated in the book Growing In: the role of diversity, energy, and trade in restoring the American economy. One of the many findings of this work is that the restoration of America’s economy begins with the restoration of its agriculture industry.Read More...
America’s model of global market capitalism, while growing unprecedented levels of wealth and high living standards for some, is built upon a faulty foundation. As a result, like past global capitalist superpowers—Northern Italian City-states, the Dutch, Great Britain—America struggles to maintain its productive capacity and resilience in the face of increasing global turbulence. Our economy’s flawed structure places all Americans in jeopardy of supply chain disruptions, turbulent energy markets, growing social unrest, extensive environmental and ecological impacts, and of course global pandemics. Hanging in the balance is the security, health, and prosperity of every American, the wholeness of our communities, and the ecosystems upon which we all rely.
Until the fundamental structure of the global market economy is known and restored, humanity’s most pressing social, economic, and environmental challenges will remain unmet. For such issues thrive amidst a complex world of intertwined economies and ecosystems, the comingling of disparate values within and between nations, and an expanding human population atop an ever-shrinking resource base. And the fundamental problem is not capitalism or technology. Blaming basic human greed or other raw behaviors would be equally frivolous , as such elements have defined humanity since the birth of humanity.
A principal tenet of Growing In is that ecology, social justice, capitalism, and technology are more allies than enemies. Drawing upon centuries of research in economics and ecology, and from the author’s experience in business and ecosystem restoration, this talk builds an economic framework around three foundational components: diversity, energy, and trade (i.e., resource transfer). While abundant research exists on each of these components in isolation of one another, an understanding of their interactions in a self-regulating economy is missing. As a result, some of our most important social, economic, and environmental efforts have struggled to stay their ground atop a fundamentally flawed economic structure.
If indeed diversity, energy, and trade form the structure of a self-regulating economy, our task is simply to restore these components. In pursuing a path of economic restoration, Growing In addresses questions such as how big of an economy is too big, and how small is too small? Are there thresholds of capital accumulation that threaten an economy’s productive capacity? What are the aspects of economic diversity that are responsible for a nation’s productive capacity, resilience, employment, and security? Which industries and sectors must be the focus of economic restoration? And, finally, are there limits to growth? Or must we simply redefine growth in the image of ecosystems, and discover limits to economic growth do not actually exist?
Leaning on the collective knowledge of evolution, ecological succession, and restoration ecology, part three of Growing In lays the groundwork for economic restoration. And in the process of restoration, a more resilient economy is born, such that humanity’s most important social and environmental solutions may thrive rather than struggle in the face of growing global turbulence.
As we grasp the knowledge ecosystems bring to bear on the structure and restoration of an economy, we may realize a refreshing truth: The greatest American economy is not some golden era of the past. It is that which lies ahead.
~ John Giordanengo, Author of Growing In
Contact Information and More Information
For more information about AloTerra’s Agricultural Restoration services, visit us here call 970-420-7346, or email John at email@example.com.