What is micro farming... the eco kind?

Copyright National Lilac Publishing, LLC

What is micro farming... the kind that regenerates the earth and communities? Here at the Center for Micro Eco-Farming, we describe what makes these types of farms more valuable, enjoyable and even more powerful than one might imagine.

  • Micro Eco-Farms (MEFs) most often range from backyard garden home businesses to small acreage farms of one to five acres. But urban balconies and rural acreages of up to 20 or so sometimes operate as MEFs.
  • MEFs that grow food crops explore the 20,000 food plants currently forgotten by the world, including the 1000s of heirlooms on the brink of extinction. They progress with new offerings faster than their larger farm cousins with financial intelligence and stability. Each season, they plant a few beds of something brand new, and educate their current and potential customers on the new items. Those that gain enough popularity in the farmer’s community are continued, others are released.

             One example of this method of graceful progression is a farmer described in Micro Eco-Farming: Prospering from Backyard to Small Acreage in Partnership with the Earth, who grows many unusual peppers on his small farm. He keeps his customers in supply of their established favorites. However, each season, he offers three or four new varieties. He keeps growing the ones that win a new following, and drops any that don't sell well (along with past staple varieties that are dwindling in popularity). He estimates that over ten years, he now grows a completely new group of peppers, but he remained secure with an established market while at the same time being the first to introduce new crops.

  • Eco micro farming taps into the earth's systems and learns to allow the earth to do more and more of the work of creating and maintaining abundant life. Earthworms, for example, do much of the farmers' work once permanent garden beds are established.
  • The MEF movement is in partnership with:
  • The local food revival
  • Fair trade
  • Restoration of strong local economy
  • Nature education and eco-tourism
  • Seasonal eating
  • Restoration of the planet
  • Culinary artisan renaissance
  • Earth-friendly home business and cottage industry
  • Preservation of the culture and flavor of the world's unique bio-regions.
  • Their larger eco-cousins. Micros and larger eco-farms of 30 to 200 acres or so produce different products for different reasons, using different operating systems, complementing rather than competing with each other
  • Micro eco-farms operate financially in several ways, including: as second streams of household income, as partners to another eco- home cottage business, or as full-time businesses whether selling to local community, online to the world, or both.
  • MEFs also partner with larger establishments such as destination eco-spas, spiritual retreats, gourmet restaurants, schools and wilderness campgrounds.
  • Sustainable micro farms produce anywhere in the world humans inhabit, they aren't limited to pockets of pre-existing superior topsoil, because they tap earth systems to accelerate the creation of new topsoil.
  • When MEFs grow well-known food crops, such as tomatoes, they produce and sell garden-varieties that are too tender for shipment, and extremely fresh versions of these well-known products, giving them a secured local market of familiar items. Communities and visitors to the farm's region begin to count on them to offer local heirlooms picked hours before serving.
  • Eco micro farming collectively helps communities, regions and their own countries reach food independence. Historically, the Incans fed 15 million with a three to seven-year surplus. The Chinese once fed one billion on less than 10% of their land base. Russia lifted itself out of ecomonic disaster in 1997 by having its citizens 'farm' 0.6 acre plots attached to the houses in Russian villages. 18 million of these plots totaled 15.3 million acres, and they became the most productive 'farms' in the country. More recently, 2011 data from the Russian Statistics Service reported that Russian dacha communities or peasant farmers produced more than 80% of the country’s fruit and berries, more than 66% of its vegetables, nearly 80% of its potatoes, and almost 50% of its milk, much of which is consumed raw.

              In France, "potagers," or tiny home gardens or gardens allotted to villages, are everywhere. The French government estimates about a quarter of all fruits and vegetables eaten in France are home-grown. In America, today, LocalHarvest.org keeps statistics on successful eco-farm members, 45% of its member farms are less than 15 acres. Also in the US, there are 7864 local Farmers Markets yet only 4100 Walmarts.

  • MEFs are design-your-own. Each micro farm is highly unique and personal to the location and to each farmer who designs his or hers, and they adapt and change with the times ahead of their larger but just as important eco-farming cousins. Unlike corporate and larger formula farming, they are strengthened even more by progress, new discoveries, and restored ancient wisdom. They are meant for those with small business sense and creative spirit rather than those who must operate as a component within a generic, copycat, static formula. The possibilities are endless. When asking the question, what is micro farming, know that they are not just market gardens. They range from micro dairies to angora rabbits in an apartment to pressed backyard-grown flowers for handcrafted greeting cards to old-fashioned rural u-picks growing heirloom beans and tomatoes.

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