Farming for the Long Haul: Resilience and the Lost Art of Agricultural Inventiveness

Michael Foley

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It’s all but certain that the next 50 years will bring enormous, not to say cataclysmic, disruptions to our present way of life. World oil reserves will be exhausted within that time frame, as will the lithium that powers today’s most sophisticated batteries, suggesting that transportation is equally imperiled. And there’s another, even more dire limitation that is looming: at current rates of erosion, the world’s topsoil will be gone in 60 years. Fresh water sources are in jeopardy, too.

In short, the large-scale agricultural and food delivery system as we know it has at most a few decades before it exhausts itself and the planet with it. Farming for the Long Haul is about building a viable small farm economy that can withstand the economic, political, and climatic shock waves that the 21st century portends.

It draws on the innovative work of contemporary farmers, but more than that, it shares the experiences of farming societies around the world that have maintained resilient agricultural systems over centuries of often-turbulent change. Indigenous agriculturalists, peasants, and traditional farmers have all created broad strategies for survival through good times and bad, and many of them prospered. They also developed particular techniques for managing soil, water, and other resources sustainably. Some of these techniques have been taken up by organic agriculture and permaculture, but many more of them are virtually unknown, even among alternative farmers.

This book lays out some of these strategies and presents techniques and tools that might prove most useful to farmers today and in the uncertain future.

Copyright 2019 • Softcover • 272 pages

About the Author

After twenty years in academia, Michael Foley began farming first in southern Maryland, and then in Willits, California, where he, his wife, and oldest daughter currently operate the small, diversified Green Uprising Farm. Foley is cofounder of the School of Adaptive Agriculture, a farmer training education program where he is a board member and teacher. He currently manages his local farmers market, and has served as the vice president of the Mendocino County Farmers' Market Association and president of Little Lake Grange.

Praise for Farming for the Long Haul

"Foley's passion and his lifetime of research and lived experience comes through in this primer of agricultural history and personal philosophy that is sure to prompt an important dialogue about the future of agriculture and the political economy." -Dorn Cox, farmer, founding member of Farm Hack

"A peasant's manifesto!...(This boo) extends, expands, and updates Wendell Berry's The Unsettling of America, then puts forth a vision of a land of resilient small famers ready to survive the present and thrive into the future." - Carol Deppe, author of The Resilient Gardener

"There's a heft to this book that speaks of hard work - both in the study and on the land - but there's also a lightness to the writing that makes it a pleasure to read. The world badly needs more farmer-scholars like Foley." -Chris Smaje, Small Farm Future, Somerset, UK

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