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The role of farming in societies (Part III: The Future)

By: Rebecca Aréchiga
There is no going back to the way early humans lived—before our “great mistake” of agriculture. As a species, we will never again be a migrating, foraging, gathering and hunting people. There are approximately seven billion six hundred ninety million too many humans living on earth to be supported by that way of life, according to scientists’ estimates.

Today on traditional farms, seeds come from a very few “Big Ag.” companies, the cultivation is done by machines, the harvesting is done by hired laborers, the packaging, shipping, processing, and the selling of the food product is all done by separate entities with their own interests in mind. This system does not benefit many, in fact in benefits very, very few.  It further pronounces foregone knowledge about growing food, holding up a curtain to humanity’s roots in living with nature, adhering to the seasons and the animals and plants which are local. This system keeps those who produce our food struggling to put food on their own tables. It creates a disconnect between our food and ourselves. Perhaps at its worst, this system compels communities to believe that there is no alternative, that big solutions to these very big problems cannot be leveraged in our modern world.

So then, if farming is here to stay for the sake of sustaining the human population, and the agricultural system is currently broken, where do we go from here?

Here’s some food for thought: what if the future of farming was about more than just a better way to source food, or even just the knowledge of where the food is coming from? What if the future of farming went beyond the common understanding of an actual farm? What if the farm of the future is the place to build the future of community?

Common Ground is building “the farm of the future.”

 A cornerstone of “the farm of the future" is a circular economy and a vertically integrated supply chain, one where every person—every link in the chain—is advantaged. Beyond just growing food (and we are doing that, with an economically viable agroforest), Common Ground’s “farm of the future” examines the impacts of food systems and continues to explore better ways forward. It tells the story of the entire food system and supply chain, celebrating the ingredients and the people that play a role in growing and making the food that we eat. It demonstrates how a system can be built in harmony with the land and most importantly, how this new path can be replicated elsewhere to ignite a global shift.

Common Ground also understands that a part of “the farm of the future” and regenerative communities relies on the change-makers, thinkers, and doers that come together to “break bread” and find common ground through food—the great connector. This includes art and culture, which are vital for thriving communities and therefore important components of the improved future we continue to pursue. “The farm of the future” takes a holistic approach to the many facets that nurture a community, through bellies, minds, human connection and support, and beyond.

The impacts of “the farm of the future” go beyond the immediate farm location. This means supporting other local farmers and makers, connecting people through stories and gathering thinkers to leverage solutions to big problems through media and events. Each individual, every link in the chain, is advantaged.

Humankind spent 187,000 years perfecting the art of gathering, foraging and hunting. We’ve been tilling the soil for only 12,000 years now. It is safe to say we have not perfected the art as of yet. But we are humankind—we are resilient, we learn from our mistakes, and we move forward.

So perhaps instead of seeing our shift toward agriculture as our first “great mistake,” we can see it as the dawning of “the farm of the future,” the first very necessary step toward learning how to truly build regenerative, thriving communities and in turn, finding common ground.
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