Agroecology for Resilient Communities

Agroecology is a term that’s been around awhile; a scientific discipline developed as an answer to not only counteract the damage caused by industrial farming practices but as a deterrent to causing more harm. It studies how different aspects of the agroecosystem interact. “Sustainable farming practices” is a phrase associated with this discipline. However, I question if the term sustainable is misleading and corrupted. For example, greenwashing, a practice used to sell “green energy,” uses the word in its sales tactics.

Still, agroecology itself is a worthwhile effort, especially because it combines science with social justice practices. I’m particularly interested in the positive impact this approach may have on rural areas. The “Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations” (FAO) has this to say:

“agroecology helps support food production and food security and nutrition while restoring the ecosystem services and biodiversity that are essential for sustainable agriculture.”

Would it be brazen to suggest that every branch of government, right down to local jurisdictions, should have an environmental-spiritual ambassador to encourage decisions based not merely on profitability but agroecology and human impact?

Agroecological practices include utilizing beneficial insects, crop rotations, and integrating livestock and crops to combat deforestation, water scarcity, soil depletion, stabilize yields and increase biodiversity to enhance the planet and feed people. It is not a system to permit polluting, but rather an approach to keep polluting practices and other exploitations on our radar and encourage better decision-making.

African woman with baby on her back while working farming

The ten guidelines outlined by the FAO:

Diversity, Responsible Governance, Recycling, Efficiency, Synergies, Resilience, Circular and Solidarity Economy, Human and Social Values, Co-creation and Sharing of Knowledge, Culture and Food Traditions.

Wouldn’t it be encouraging and community-enhancing if all local governance was developed around these guidelines and used to make decisions? Is it possible we would have better health, housing, and education outcomes? A sense of trust built to push us into the future not based on fear and competition but based on community engagement and commonalities?

African smiling children

When approving an industry moving into a community, changes that impact the land, or enhanced energy generators, what if we considered the impact on social structure, traditions, gender equity, compassion, and diverse, healthy diets?

When considering food production, we reward and penalize farmers based on their contributions through agroecological practices. They are held responsible, just like any other business, for pollution. If they are going to get agricultural property tax breaks, they must farm their land. In return, communities support farmers by designing and utilizing interconnectivity practices through community grants, tax breaks, and sourcing local food banks with quality, nutrient-dense foods.

We need farmers, and they need all of us.

We can’t keep kicking the can down the road. In every community, we need to reframe farming practices’ role to preserve the environment and social justice for farmers, farmworkers, and all stakeholders. Even city and rural dwellers alike must take part. Each of us has to have a voice.

Adopting agroecological practices can help us meet those goals and positively transform communities. Indeed, transform the planet to be, yes, sustainable.