4/02/2011

On the possibility of farming in SoCal

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I have such romantic notions of living in northern California.... Perhaps it's best to not focus all my energy and attention towards that goal in the event that (unfavorable or unforeseen) circumstances occur.  I'll be clear-headed and rational.  I have these grand schemes of how my life will turn out after university... I hope that I will be doing something related to sustainable agriculture (whether it be farming, herbalism, being an educator, etc.) ... in NorCal.

I had a realization tonight.  I think it is profound.  I realized that (with my aversion to the urban southern California setting put aside) I could potentially start a farm here in Los Angeles County.  Perhaps even close to where I live now.  It seems like such a crazy idea, but I know that it's an idea with much potential to come into fruition.  I'm already in contact with fellow farmers and I think with some dedication and planning, this could potentially happen if the right opportunity presented itself. Organic farming is about creating a sense of community while promoting environmental sustainability.  Well, why not create that where I currently live?  Instead of traveling hundreds of miles to fulfill a life of farming in a romantic, woodsy area where, in all likelihood, there is already a network of organic farms established, why not create a sustainable system of farming in my local community--an area scarce in farmland and with no real network of organic farms.  As Gandhi said, "Be the positive change you want to see in the world."  I can be the catalyst for that change.  And that change can happen here, in my local community.

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However, there are some problems that need to be addressed before that can actually happen.  Here, any farm land that exists today is seen as devoid of any value.  Urban developers want to transform any farm land that is left and add value to it by creating an urban space where people can spend money and contribute to the economic system. What value would the urbanization of these farm lands create besides contributing to short-term profits?  (Anyone who is informed knows the current economic/monetary system is imbalanced and unsustainable.)  Why not, instead, preserve the integrity of the land by farming it and providing food to local communities?  It would create long-term sustainability rather than short-term profitability.  In addition, the economic activities that would ensue from the transformation of farm land to urban space would ultimately lead to the degradation of the surrounding environment.  And what is truly valuable about that?  Absolutely nothing.  The real value of the land lies in the soil.  There is much potential to create food security for local communities by farming the land, enriching the soil, etc.  It's obvious Los Angeles County is a food desert.  Would L.A. County even be able to sustain itself with local food were a natural disaster to happen and imports and/or interstate commerce were to be cut off?  In reality, "food security" is probably the last thing on these developers' minds.

I believe these issues about farmland can be resolved by influencing legislation concerning land policies.  In addition, establishing a network that would provide foundation for farming/sustainable agriculture (outside of universities and targeted towards the community) in collaboration with like-minded individuals would be a giant step towards shifting these outdated paradigms in agriculture here in L.A.

Well, writing this just reaffirms my reason in wanting to leave southern California.  1) The environment here is just not conducive to work in sustainable agriculture.  2) The urban landscape here is also uninspiring. 3) I want to live near nature... NorCal has that. SoCal doesn't.

But perhaps instead of abandoning this place, I could contribute to positive change here and create a local food economy that can foster community and get other (young) folks excited about sustainable agriculture.

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