In my opinion, if 100% of the people were farming it would be ideal. If each person were given one quarter-acre, that is 1 1/4 acres to a family of five, that would be more than enough land to support the family for the whole year. If natural farming were practiced, a farmer would also have plenty of time for leisure and social activities within the village community. I think this is the most direct path toward making this country a happy, pleasant land.
A farm includes the passion of the farmer's heart, the interest of the farm's customers, the biological activity in the soil, the pleasantness of the air about the farm -- it's everything touching, emanating from, and supplying that piece of landscape. A farm is virtually a living organism. The tragedy of our time is that cultural philosophies and market realities are squeezing life's vitality out of most farms. And that is why the average farmer is now 60 years old. Serfdom just doesn't attract the best and brightest.
A farm regulated to production of raw commodities is not a farm at all. It is a temporary blip until the land is used up, the water polluted, the neighbors nauseated, and the air unbreathable. The farmhouse, the concrete, the machinery, and outbuildings become relics of a bygone vibrancy when another family farm moves to the city financial centers for relief.
...no matter how rhapsodic one waxes about the process of wresting edible plants and tamed animals from the sprawling vagaries of nature, there's a timeless, unwavering truth espoused by those who worked the land for ages: no matter how responsible agriculture is, it is essentially about achieving the lesser of evils. To work the land is to change the land, to shape it to benefit one species over another, and thus necessarily to tame what is wild. Our task should be to delivery our blows gently.
I do not particularly like the word 'work.' Human beings are the only animals who have to work, and I think that is the most ridiculous thing in the world. Other animals make their livings by living, but people work like crazy, thinking that they have to in order to stay alive. The bigger the job, the greater the challenge, the more wonderful they think it is. It would be good to give up that way of thinking and live an easy, comfortable life with plenty of free time. I think that the way animals live in the tropics, stepping outside in the morning and evening to see if there is something to eat, and taking a long nap in the afternoon, must be a wonderful life. For human beings, a life of such simplicity would be possible if one worked to produce directly his daily necessities. In such a life, work is not work as people generally think of it, but simply doing what needs to be done.
The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago. Until then, where was all the food? Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard.
The only truly dependable production technologies are those that are sustainable over the long term. By that very definition, they must avoid erosion, pollution, environmental degradation, and resource waste. Any rational food-production system will emphasize the well-being of the soil-air-water biosphere, the creatures which inhabit it, and the human beings who depend upon it.
If 22 bushels (1,300 pounds) of rice and 22 bushels of winter grain are harvested from a quarter acre field, then the field will support five to ten people each investing an average of less than one hour of labour per day. But if the field were turned over to pasturage, or if the grain were fed to cattle, only one person could be supported per quarter acre. Meat becomes a luxury food when its production requires land which could provide food directly for human consumption. This has been shown clearly and definitely. Each person should ponder seriously how much hardship he is causing by indulging in food so expensively produced.