Cooperative Farming or Ag Libre

Rather than writing a new blog post, here’s an email I sent on December 28, 2010. Like most of what I post on this website, this post comes with a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license — meaning you can reuse it as long as you give me credit for my work and you share your creations with the same license. (At some point I might go full-commons on this and make it Public Domain — if you want me to, leave a comment saying so.)

Brian Bankston — Keyline Cowboy
Cliff Davis — Spiral Ridge Permaculture

course ideas

Brian and Cliff,

Here’s some thinking about what we might offer in a course. It’s a bit wild-dream-flavored at the moment, and the shape of the course is sort of geared towards launching a social movement, so some parts of this might be out of our reach at the moment or beyond the scope of this course. Anyhow, use whatever makes sense, this is a conversation.

yay! ~ Patrick

Cooperative Farming
Cooperate with the place you inhabit, including humans and the rest of the community of life.

How can a person cooperate with a place? Why would a person want to cooperate with a place? What’s a place?
Life happens in places, and those places are alive. Each human is part of the place they inhabit, and their primary relations are in that place. Each place is alive: birds, plants, water, humans, air, soil, sunlight, rodents, and more interact with each other to perform the cycles of life in a place.

Cooperate With Whom? Your Place, including:

– Self
– Family + Colleagues
– Friends + Neighbors
– Suppliers
– Clients
– Other Farms (coopetitors)
– Social Movements (Via Campesina, Real Food Challenge, Re-Mineralize the Earth, Transition Network, Sarvodaya Shramadana, Campesino a Campesino, permaculture, peer-to-peer, bioregionalism)
– Institutions, Corporations, Governments

The Rest of Life:
– The 4 ecosystem processes of Holistic Management:
– mineral cycle
– water cycle
– energy flow
– community dynamics
– the great spirit / god / the spirit in all life / the spirit of each life

Cooperate How? By…:
– anchoring in place, with bioregional worldview
– applying permaculture principles
– using Holistic Management
– composting!
– wise use of a Yeoman’s Plow with compost tea injection, following keyline design
– communicating compassionately
– engaging in flows (gifts and trades)
– sharing what I know about farming in this place:
– knowledge about how to farm, software, data about each farm, data about cash flow and business models, forms and procedures, etc.
– other folks who are sharing: CRAFT Farm Profiles; Open Source Ecology / Factor e Farm; Apios Institute forest garden wiki; Earth Action Mentor.
– continuing to work for liberation of all life — this means that cultural healing is necessary

– farmer is a role, I am a human (and some say I’m a spirit having a human experience… at any rate, right now I’m a human, I think).
– the universe is a single multiform event
– farming is an act of cooperation
– share like I mean it: accessibility for deaf, blind, illiterate, multi-lingual (not just English)

Other titles to consider:
– Freedom Farming / Liberty Farming: farming that respects the freedom of all life and encourages self-expression of all life.
– Ag-Libre / Open Farming: free/libre agriculture, this borrows ideals from the free/libre/open-source software movement — everything that can be shared is shared (knowledge about how to farm, software, data about each farm, data about cash flow and business models, forms and procedures, etc.)
– Compassionate Farming
– Multi-Farming: practice agriculture for many reasons, with many benefits. Instead of the conventional focus on maximum dollars, multi-farming produces a balance of materials and experiences that satisfy human needs by focusing on the health of the entire environment, the whole place.
– Integrative Farming: farming that integrates people into the place they inhabit.
– Farm Here Now: taking inspiration from Buddhist teachings, practice farming as a deep meditation and communion with the soil, the plants, the insects, and yourself.
– Place-based Farming: pay attention to where you are, and the place will guide you towards farming in a way that makes sense with that particular place its unique flow of life.
– Influence Farming: this comes from Dennis Limon’s Influence Gardening — farm by relating respectfully to the influences/spirits of the plants, the soil, the place. Listen to those influences for guidance in how to farm.
– Peer-to-Peer Farming: treat everyone and all life as peers, working with the commons, co-producing with my peers.

Flow of the Course

  1. Establish a frame to show how life is cooperation.
    1. show where competition, parasites, symbiosis, co-evolution fit into the picture.
    2. show film, “The Universe in 40 Leaps”.
  2. Show that life happens in place, and each place is alive.
    1. show that places relate with each other via cooperation.
  3. Life-dance is autopoiesis.
    1. help each holon express itself, become more itself.
    2. Joel Salatin: help the pig express its pigness.
    3. Navajo / Diné: may all beings live according to their nature.
  4. Responsibility rather than ownership.

Agreements of the Teachers / Facilitators

  • Welcome the phrase “I don’t know.” Do not pretend to know things we don’t.
  • Now: share our experiences.
    • Future: share this experience with others.
      • This means we talk about you (students), share stories of this place (your farms, where we do the course), and stay in touch. This means folks might start visiting you, wanting to learn from you.
      • Maybe we ask that you help teach another group, maybe teach a course, or mentor a course (inspired by Transition Network, Sarvodaya Shramadana, Campesino a Campesino)

Wild Dreams that this Course could embody



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