It’s no secret that there’s a divide between the global North and South. Most people know about the huge wealth gap between the industrialized and so-called “developing” worlds, and that rates of pollution, resource use, greenhouse gas emissions – and much more – vary widely between them. But there’s another gap, one that’s rarely discussed in the media, or even by NGOs. It involves changing attitudes to farming, to the land and the soil – something worth considering in this UN-designated “International Year of Soils.’
All over the Western world, increasing numbers of people are leaving their desk-bound lives to rediscover the joys of getting their hands dirty. The passion for soil is on the rise as more and more people grow food on their balconies or rooftops, or turn their lawns into a mixture of wilderness and vegetables. People are also reaching out to farmers, joining Community Supported Agriculture schemes or starting food co-ops. The permaculture, ecovillage and transition movements now have huge followings, with thousands of people undergoing training and reconnecting to each other through growing food. Interest in slow food, organic food, agroecology and regenerative agriculture are also increasing. Central to all these movements is localization– the shortening of distances from the farm to the table. At same time that local food economies rebuild the relationship between consumers and farmers, they encourage highly diversified organic, small-scale agriculture, contributing to sustainable food systems.