At 5pm (in Wales) on Sunday 22nd February 2009 there was perhaps the most significant hour of broadcasting in British television history. In the Natural World's A Farm For The Future, it was explained that our current methods of food production, massively dependent on fossil fuels and purchased inputs is time limited. One day, unless we find another way of growing food or work out how to run tractors on moonshine and prayer, we will starve.
Its not even possible to return to pre-war levels of labour on farms as most of the skills have been lost and the old methods were essentially no more sustainable in the long term than the methods employed today.
The answer to our problem is Permaculture. This is not hippy gardening, this is a rigorously scientific process of food production based on natural ecosystems. The essentials of permaculture are observation, design, minimal inputs and reduced labour. For years I have been aware of exponents of Permaculture such as Chris Dixon and Patrick Whitefield making their case from the fringe. To see them at last on mainstream network television was very satisfying.
Whether Permaculture can feed Britain (as it has in Cuba) is a question yet to be answered, but one thing we know for sure: the way we farm today will not feed Britian. It can not. It relies heavily on fossil fuels, it mines the soil of carbon and nutrients so that these have to be bought in from industry, it breaks ecological webs and reduces biodiversity so that pests and disease organisms fill the vacant niches and in response, the land is sprayed with persistent toxins that enter the food chain.
The way we eat will have to change as well as the way we grow our food. We can not expect to have so much grain and wheat in future and will have to find alternative sources of carbohydrates. Rather than read my words, you'd be better off watching the programme on BBC i-player: