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SUSTAINABILITY Debt, food security and buying local

Outdoor Living
Debt, food security and buying local


Growing your own
Chris Brown


Apple trees, blackcurrant bushes, a ridge or two of fertile soil by your back door that you can call your own – that’s about as close to any real type of food security that you can get; and lucky are those that have such things to hand.
If you live in an apartment on the second floor, or indeed in any other dwelling with no ground able to produce some food, and would like to grow something for yourself, an allotment is what will be needed.
An allotment is a piece of land that can be obtained at a very reasonable cost on a yearly basis, and is usually under the control of a local authority. It can be very productive and a valuable asset to both the grower and others in the community keen to have local fruits, herbs and vegetables to buy. Finding a forward-thinking council that can provide allotments is difficult enough though, it seems.
Obviously digging, weeding, planting, harvesting and all the rest isn’t going to be for everyone. But for those who either don’t fancy it, or are unable for some other reason to work a spade, supporting someone who does by buying or exchanging something for their produce, is more secure than relying on persons unknown (often on the other side of the world) to grow for you.
Almost always, the hands that plant and harvest the rice, tea, coffee, sugar, vegetables and fruits etc (the list is a long one) for our consumption are poorly rewarded for their labour, and the corporations that organise the trafficking of food will only do so if you have the money to pay them. The fact is that the fuel to transport such goods is running short and is becoming ever-more expensive, that available land capable of production is dwindling worldwide and  that there are more mouths to feed than ever before – and this should be of concern to us all.
There is no security in methods of getting food that rely on shifting goods around the world to find the best price: we can’t count on it. Somehow, I don’t think that things will come into focus for most of those buying the groceries until the supermarket shelves go empty; only then will it be realised just how little of what we eat is grown near to home.
Uncertainty abounds right now, and we will not be able to return to the way things were, expecting the same levels of comfort we’ve got use to this last while.

MONEY BAD
Money has always caused grief but it was a simpler creature to understand up until recently (the 1980s). People used to save up for the things they wanted and the cost of goods was relevant to their value. Today, in the toxic-loan money-market world of global finance, money has swung out of control and the governments and their advisors can’t do a single thing to control it.
Millions have become billions, and cash replaced by online screens and the world’s debt grows larger and larger like a boil ready to explode. Political leaders are aware that we have already borrowed way more than we can ever pay back and the best they can come up with is to suggest borrowing lots more at a higher price than before, and that this is a viable solution. Daft!
To suggest that banks providing credit again is a course we should follow when it has let us down so badly already, makes no sense. Borrowing money has got us into a pickle, how can we expect borrowing more of it to get us out of the pickle?
Buying local is not just a whim, it’s an absolute essential. If we are to create any kind of food security we need a demand for local goods – and by that I mean people willing to pay regularly for food grown in Mayo – otherwise we will not see fields of potatoes or oats reappearing. I would urge anyone who produces or buys food to ensure it was grown in the beautiful county, Chontae Maigh Eo.

Thank you to Lynda and Amber for typing up my articles this year.
Happy Christmas to one and all, peace on Earth.
Spare a thought for Pakistan.

Chris Brown runs Brown’s Farm, a small farm in Louisburgh. He is an advocate of sustainable, natural farming methods and buying local.