> biophysical and socio/economic factors. So indeed it may be more
> environmentally and economically effective to give up the illusion that
> back yard plots and small farms have sgilnficantly socially redeeming
> values- any more than hunting ducks has any value other than to be out in
> the great wonderful land of mother nature
I understand where you are coming from, but I'm afraid I
disagree. "Economies of scale" can often be misleading, and it is our
society which misleads us most of the time.
When I grow my own fruit and vegies in the back yard, I don't need a
tractor to pick it. The amount of food needed by a person for a week
can be easily picked in a few minutes with our own body. More to the
point, the stuff being picked is the "fuel" that drives our own
body. This is the cycling of inputs and outputs that are typical of
all sustainable systems in nature.
Similarly when I spread my nitrogen-fixing crop as mulch around my
garden, I can again use my own body, because a family garden is small
enough. Large gardens/farms require either many people, which we know
is economically challenging, or equipment (and fuel) to do the work.
And also when I have finished picking and mulching, I can simply carry
the produce in a short walk to my kitchen (and of course the compost
goes straight back onto the garden). Large farms require, again, a
great deal of equipment and fuel to transport the goods to
supermarkets, etc, and then more fuel for us to pick them up and bring
them back to our house. Some people are lucky (unlucky ?) enough to
have supermarkets the same distance as their backyards away from their
house, but not many.
In terms of costs: the backyard does not require expensive farm
equipment, nor fuel to operate them, nor transport machinery, nor fuel
to operate them, (we'll agree most people have a car), nor fuel to
pick up the produce. There are many other sundry items that I have not
mentioned, such as less road maintenance, smaller shopping centres,
So to me, when I view the system as a whole, there are neither
economic nor environmental benefits in such large scale production.
P.S. For those who are wondering, I am not suffering the delusion that
my backyard has zero impact on the environment. All I am aiming for is
to minimise the impact on the environment caused by the simple act of