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Permaculture: Farms for the future

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Can she save the farm- without fossil fuels?

Here is a heartwarming story about a woman who grew up on a traditional farm in Devon, England. She is exploring the question of how her family farm can survive in a future without cheap fossil fuels. As she points out, even small organic farms are completely dependent on methods that depend on oil, even if they don't fertilize the crops.

It is an engaging and informative film, worth every minute. My favorite scene is where she takes apart a store bought sandwich and considers exactly how much fossil fuel was required to produce and ship this item to her nearest convenience store.

More than 96 per cent of all the food grown in Britain is reliant on synthetic fertilizer. Without it there would be serious trouble. But without artificial fertilizer there's not enough nutrients for the crops to grow, and without ploughing there is nothing to aerate the soil. So how can to manage without them?

The answers are in nature. As Charles Darwin pointed out, earthworms have been ploughing and aerating the soil for millions of years. And as for fertilizers, just look at how a forest flourishes: by using the natural fertility created by billions of living microbes, fungi, plants and animals.

The non-destructive, low-energy methods are elements of a wider system known as Permaculture, which challenges all the normal approaches to farming. One of its central principles is that you work with the land, rather than against it.

Can she save the farm or not? Have a look!

--Bibi Farber

This video was produced by the BBC