Back to the Garden…

 We are stardust, we are golden,
and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.


“What we do to the land, we do to ourselves.”  -Wendel Berry


Agriculture was the original sin. We took the forbidden fruit and cultivated the shit out of it, and in the process, we also destroyed many of the world’s great soils and ecosystems. It was with this dramatic change in our relationship to the land that the devilish issues of land ownership, personal property, money, exploitation of human labour, overpopulation, diseases, pandemics and all other joyous aspects of civilised life have arisen. Prior to the advent of agriculture no one person owned land or animals, there was little need for money as a medium of exchange, lifestyle diseases were unheard of and no one lived in sedentary townships, which would eventually become overpopulated, and disease ridden. Agriculture has taken us down a long, winding and often chaotic path and it has fundamentally changed who we are. We no longer exist as an extension of the landscape from which we would hunt or gather, instead we mould and shape our landscapes to the needs of a dominator culture which seeks to control when, where and how plants and animals grow. Not only do we try and control every aspect of our agricultural systems, but we also dominate and control each other in a frivolous fight over land and resources.
Many civilisations have fallen on the sword of agriculture, a result of ‘declining marginal returns.’ Populations explode as a result of cultivating fertile soils, conquering new land and reaping good harvests. As more resources are needed to feed an ever-growing population the land begins being exploited and new land is required for cultivating. The demise of many great civilisations is often quick and dramatic. Often attributed to war or some climatic or environmental change, the smoking gun is likely the degradation of the landscape and a resulting diminishing of returns. Two great civilisations give the perfect example: The Mayan civilisation in Central America and the Mesopotamian civilisation that spread across modern day Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq, both rose and fell at around the same time, the end of the first millennia. Both these civilisations were epicentres of technological and agricultural techniques at the time, and both came to very abrupt and dramatic ends. Archeological evidence has shown that as their populations ballooned, and they needed ever more resources, their soils paid the price. After a millennia of growth, they both collapsed relatively quickly. It’s important we learn from the mistakes that past civilisations have made.
Even today when the majority of people in the Western World have never stepped foot on a farm or have very little connection to the food that sustains them, we are still very much an agricultural society. Every aspect of who we are is still defined by our ‘original sin’ of agriculture; the greed, the inequality and the exploitation. If we continue down the path of assuming we have infinite resources and that declining marginal returns is a thing of the past, we are in for one hell of a ride. It is essential that we can, at a bare minimum, build soil as quickly as we are losing it. Or ideally, build more soil than we erode.
As Joni Mitchell wisely put it:

 We’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.

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Jackie & Elliott Paradoxa


First generation farmers who believe that soil health & nutrition is not only important but also very cool. Our minimalist philosophy carries from our feet on the earth, through our hearts and to our vines.

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