It is a common belief that we need large industrial farms to feed a growing world population. That's not the case. In fact, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Trade and Environment Review 2013), small scale farming can feed the world and greatly improve the environmental effects of farming activity. Increased small-scale farming is needed in remote or isolated communities, where most of food consumed is brought in over long distances or by the increasingly expensive and unreliable ferry service. Food transportation and carbon costs, as well as nutrition and local economic resilience, are issues that most communities share in common.
The environmental impact of industrial farming is enormous, especially compared to traditional, sustainable methods. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO 2000) reported that about the equivalent of one barrel of oil, 6,000 megajoules (MJ) of energy,
is used to produce one ton of maize in industrial farming. A barrel of oil is 159 liters. The production of maize by traditional methods uses the equivalent of just 4.8 litres of oil (180 MJ). In modern rice farming, more energy is consumed in the growing process than produced by the crop. In comparison, traditional production of rice gives a return of 60 to 70 times on energy invested (FAO 2000). And these figures do not include the energy used in food transportation.
To address the needs of the local and global community on agriculture, I have been part of the effort to establish Full Circle Farm. Full Circle Farm is conceived as a way to promote agriculture by establishing a model mixed use farm designed to showcase the principles and methods of organic, sustainable agriculture. Full Circle Farm has the objective of increasing local food availability and, at the same time, using environmentally friendly methods.