Whether we go willingly or not, market forces, peak oil and climate change will eventually push us towards adopting a de-industrialised, decentralised and sustainable model of food production. It is a rational response to the challenging issues we face in the next few decades, if not sooner. I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently and wondering what growing system will best replace the present dinosaur and feed 21 million Australians. In World War II Americans planted backyard Victory Gardens that supplied 40% of the nation’s fresh food requirements. Cuba produces around 50% and up to 80% in areas where urban and suburban spaces are used. Australia should be able to achieve at least 50% from our backyards. But what about the other 50% - those who can’t, for one reason or another, grow their own year-round? The alternatives for commercial food production in the future, as I see them, are: 1. Permaculture 2. Organic farming 3. Biodynamic farming While I’m a big fan of permaculture, I wonder if it can jump the backyard and small-acreage fence and be implemented on a much larger scale – like to feed, say, 10 million people that can’t grow their own food? By its very nature permaculture is ..... well, messy. Not to my eyes – a thriving permaculture garden is a beautiful sight – but if you need to get equipment of some sort in there – even if it’s a horse or donkey cart in the future – a large permaculture farm doesn’t lend itself easily to this. You can change the design, but I believe you’d be compromising the ecosystem if you did. Another problem with permaculture on a fully commercial basis is that a permaculture design doesn’t come to maturity for 20 years. Organic farming is already being used in large scale operations, but is criticised as just being broadacre or monoculture without the chemicals. This is true of some operations, but not all, however it does produce nutritious, chemical-free, food that is commercially viable. It can also be got up and running, fully certified, in only 4 or 5 years. Another criticism, usually levelled by biodynamic people, is the amount of inputs it requires in the form of mulches, compost and fertilisers – often grown nearby by a specialist provider for several organic farms. This too is a valid criticism. Biodynamic growing is proven to work in small-scale, usually specialised operations such as vineyards, but how would it work on a big scale? It has much reduced inputs, compared to organic farming, but is an intricate and complex system. With the mystical aspects of biodynamics, I wonder if there would be sufficient people prepared to take it on? Then there is the aspect where the astronomical planting calendar doesn’t always fit in with practical requirements, such as outside market commitments. Assuming we will still have a free market economy in the future, all these systems will be competing commercially for the consumer dollar, or barter token, or whatever. All the systems are sustainable, environmentally friendly (although some are arguably more so than others) and all produce healthy chemical-free food. If human nature doesn’t change, consumers will probably go for the best value in financial terms. I can’t remember who said it, but it’s true that perfection isn’t possible and compromise is always necessary. So, perhaps our national food security in the future will depend on a blend of all these systems - as I'm moving towards on my present property. Perhaps we could call it Aussieculture?