Little tips about DIY and plantation from a punk farmer!
PREMISE: Before talking about “do it youself” applied to plantation, it is necessary to make a little premise, a sort of historical introduction about the topic: first of all, the most fundamental thing is to know when farming was born. A lot of people never asked themselves such a question, but it is extremely important: agriculture was born no more than 10.000 years ago, in the area that nowadays we refer to as Iran and Iraq, that is Mesopotamia.
During the human being evolutionary process, from his appearance on earth to present days, farming has always played a marginal-final role and it has to be considered, according to this point of view, a very young and recent practice (take into account that, at the moment, following the Christian calendar, we just passed the year 2000).
The human being, before establishing and setting himself up, time after time, in various territories, was a nomad who got food and sustenance from nature and hunting; he also moved cyclically, according to the climate conditions and food necessities.
Once having domesticated the first animals and the first vegetal species, he started to build bigger and bigger settlements, until creating sedentary communities and abandoning the nomad life-style, which was no more considered convenient.
From that moment on, the human being started to develop the agricultural (and pastoral) practice, creating a series of links with nature, as well as spiritual relationships based on knowledge of pratices that indissolubly weave together with his life.
Proof are the numerous ancient religions and myths that have the power and vitality of nature as the main subject. Worshipping a natural aspect, like the existence of the sun, was at the basis of spirituality within the majority of pre-industrial civilizations.
This does not mean that, before the arrival of agriculture, these populations did not have spiritual wisdom, but starting from that specific moment, their path towards modernity begun, and we can start making reference to the human being provided with “reason”. Indeed, with the birth of agriculture, we define the beginning of the “modern era”.
POST-PREMISE: At this point, a question is spontaneous: what is then agriculture? The answer is pretty easy: a compromise with nature, a sustainable meeting point for nature itself and humanity, from which both parties can benefit. In these terms it could sound clashing, but it is the practical evidence of facts.
I hope to be more clear providing a practical example: let us analyse an ear of wheat (or any other kind of cereal).
What can see today in that ear is the result of hundred years of farmers’ selections, made on the basis of a plant’s productive capacity, of its grading, of its ability to adapt to the territory and, last but not least, on the basis of flavour.
Imagine also an ancient community, which moves from an area to another because in that specific place food is becoming scarce. Then, some individuals consider that specific ear of wheat, which grows in that specific place, as not that bad, maybe a little bit bitter but it is good, and so they decide to bring some eas with them (this is an additional confirmation of the human being intellectual faculties development, as he understands that a seed equals a plant).
At a later time, those seeds will be planted in another area and will provide ears with similar characteristics to their parents, but still different: maybe some ears result thicker and with more grains, incredibly some ears could be also less bitter, thus more desirable.
The human being continuously selects the characteristics that best suit to his taste and excludes those that he likes less. In this way the selection that brought us all those plants and vegetables that we all know nowadays has started.
Providing an additional example: a big and juicy tomato has an ancient parent which is a plant that, with respect to today’s tomato, only shares the colour and maybe the shape of the fruit. Although, thousand years ago, somebody picked up the same wild varieties and started to develop a harmonic process with them, where man should have satisfied his food necessities (and, why not, also his spiritual necessities!) and nature should have modified itself little by little, in order to meet the needs of an animal.
Do not perceive all of this as a forcing act from man’s perspective. Nothing could be wronger.
The extreme respect with which human being, from the antiquity to the pre-industrial era, has demonstrated to nature has always been at its maximum level.
Wisdom, together with a reverential component with respect to natural forces, have guaranteed a balanced development and an objectively and reasonably sustainable growth for both parties.
Man has gained wealth while nature has taken new paths in order to modify itself, as it is always and constantly subject to changes.
DIY AND PLANTATION
It is absolutely possible as well as necessary to establish an exact moment in human history when things have started to get progressively and drastically worse, not also concerning farming, but all aspects of human lives and not only: this moment corresponds with the industrial revolution.
Farming methods have increasingly been sterilized and denatured, the earth started to be seen as an entity to exploit and consume, a source from which to gain wealth, man has become a robot who acted on the basis of chemical products’ captions.
The Earth has lost its magic alchemy and turned into a mere biologic mass to exploit and to extract food from.
Nobody cares about the fact that the damages caused by humans are huge and, most of the time, irreversible: the earth is seen and lived only in a contemporary dimension, the future seems not to be considered anymore, and there is no trace of the ancient wisdom, all have been cancelled by economic lies and by a crazy run-up to a false food safety.
It is surely impossible to deal with such a vast argument in few, rambling and reductive pages, it is a topic that should be discussed in a vast way and involving people, considering the experience exchange as a unilateral cultural growth, so as it happened hundreds of years ago: farmers did not have books to consult in order to learn how to farm or how to treat a specific aversion, they used direct experience deriving from their lives and from their ancestors, they orally exchanged other methods and systems for farming as well as for dealing with “inconveniences”.
The Do It Yourself or “DIY” was born, even before than being present within the punk/HC culture, in the rural and agricultural world: real farmers have always done everything with the use of their hands only, without any external help. Building their houses, their farming equipment, create the tools that would have been used to modify the earth’s products, etc. Houses, sickles, furnaces, wagons, various utensils, all have been created by brilliant and wise minds devoted to practical life.
The contemporary farmer has been reduced to a mere workman who uses tools and machines created by third parties, according to schedules and calendars established by production management.
The first thing to do, when one wants to go closer to the farming world and avoid doing irreparable damages, is to erase from one’s head all the stupid things about “doing things well”, which is typical of the industrial twist and turn that our life has assumed (in general).
We must re-educate ourselves from the wrong idea of plants and animals as simple producers of goods, as something to exploit as much as possible for the entire duration of their lives, without diving emotionally in the act of life creating itself.
The major lack in contemporary farmers is indeed having lost love for what they do, passion for those gestures, both big and small, that characterize the equilibrium provided by the exchange of values between nature and the human being.
It is only in the moment when the mind is ready and available to be flooded by myriads of magic impulses and multi-coloured stimuli and tastes, that it is possible to get closer to agriculture in the right way: this is the first real tip that I want to share with anybody willing to start following the farmer’s path.
Too difficult and too vast to take on. As I said before, this is not the most suitable place, but there are some notions at the basis of a good farming education, which have to be considered as fundamental: first of all, seasons. The biologic evolution of every kind of life form is dictated by seasons turnover.
In a country like Italy, eating tomatoes in January is not natural, so as eating typical summer fruits like peaches, apricots and cherries in the winter period. Not only it is not natural, but the forcing with which these poor fruits grow or are brought to us is so extreme that it completely denaturalizes their nutritive functions and, in many cases, they won’t be healthy at all once eaten.
Seasons are like dresses through which nature appears to us, and the ability to notice and to adapt to their features is the first thing that a farmer should consider. Acting at the right time, using intelligence and wisdom, combined with a little bit of luck.
Obviously there is the need of experience, it is not possible to improvise oneself as a seasons’ expert all of a sudden (nowadays it is even less possible! According to the oddity we are getting used to!), but without such knowledge the fall of labelled agriculture is inevitable.
Second step: how to do it, that is, which methods to adopt. There are different ways and criteria related to agriculture, and all have their pros and cons being more or less effective.
An important thing: there is no best method over the others, rather there are various methods that, taken from time to time and combined together, result suitable for the problem to tackle.
Various farming types were born and have developed in many territories, often different from each other, thus with different seasons trends.
These styles have to be re-elaborated and modified according to the needs of the place where they are adopted: the methodology is just an incipit, then it is up to the farmer to adapt it and model it on the basis of needs.
Also this, just like the seasonality case, it is something difficult to do. One will require years and years of experience and usually, they are even not enough to understand what it is better to do.
It is a matter of patience. And here is my third and last suggestion that I wish to give you: patience.
“Having everything and immediately” is typical modern arrogance’s assumption.
The money tyranny has manipulated culture and now it looks like that wellbeing is quantifiable only through material goods that can be accumulated as quickly as possible.
Mankind is getting used to unnatural and dangerous life rhythms, his biological functions are pushed to the extreme in order to allow him to resist to the cannibal rhythms of modern life.
If you want to be good farmers, depositories of that great wisdom that marked the ancient cultures, you have first of all to consider what you are going to interact with: nature.
Nature has its own time as well as its own ways, orders, its inviolable equilibrium, inalterable cycles and an infinite multitude of experiences that converge altogether in the most harmonic way possible.
The human being has to slowly enter this world and be a particle, he has to become an infinitesimal part of those cycles and has to subdue his mind to all of that. If he is going to do so, if he does his best in the right way, he will gain in exchange the emotion that one cannot do without, love.
This is the way that I took in order to be a farmer. Before being what it is, farming is a beautiful conversation with the mother of all of us. Let’s cringe ourselves and be ready to witness the greatest show that our eyes could ever admire: life in its all infinite manifestations.
Translation by Martina