Agriculture

The End of the Earth or Reconciliation? The Choice is Ours.

This is a post about the gently rolling hills of the shallows of an ancient lake, that are no more.

It is a place where herons survived cold winters by hunting mice. No more.

The coyote family fed themselves off the mice as well. It’s over.

As for the deer?

In the name of separating human life from the earth, they are going to have to starve up on the mountain. The 12-foot-high fence is going up.

And the dream that the human species can socially get its act together and stop poisoning land to grow pumpkins, in celebration of a harvest that is not harvest anymore?

Oh, that’s doing just fine. Now, I don’t know about you, but that land looks, like, usable space. A city could re-imagine its relationship to the earth there, and maybe stop doing this …

…in the name of the mythology that any land can be private, or that industrial agriculture and its poisons …

… is somehow farming, or family farming, or that we are growing past it with a push towards organic farming, or de-industrialized agriculture, well, it’s over. The technology of the oil patch has arrived. Here’s Coyote’s field now. All the soil has been scraped up and piled up in a mountain, the underlying clay has been spread out, without the rolling hills that tie us to geological history, and the soil will soon be spread back out, making it more usable by machines.

Fences, and their symbols of wealth and exclusion, are the new view of the valley, in the name of environmental protection.

Presumably, by environmental protection, is meant the scraping…

… and the loading up…

… and the trucking up hill.

Somehow, “farming” means broken plastic pipe jumbled up in the soil…

… and the hard work of removing wetlands so that they don’t have to be protected.

In this age of awareness that soil is a living community of organisms, just as human bodies are, and the new understandings of the century it takes to rebuild those communities, which are the only source of nutrients for plants, all that has just been thrown away. Who gives a damn that the soil compaction of a tractor reduces crop yields by 25% in an industrial orchard when giant trucks …

…pack the soil down as hard as concrete, day after day?

Did you ever dream of living on Earth? Of having your children experience her? Well, forget it. The petro state has arrived.

This is the time of going backwards…

… and dumping the earth…

Clay, plastic, subsoil, top soil, glacial till, rock, it doesn’t matter. It is all mixed together in one big sterile jumble that some industrialized fertilizer, nitrogen, pulled from the atmosphere, will fix, right, to grow export fruit, or maybe wine, who knows, who cares.

The enemy is here, among us. For some, it is the Earth. For others, it is the fence that symbolizes colonial power.

And the fences are winning. They are shutting us out of the Earth.

We can watch, but we cannot touch, because the notion of private property is so basic to Canadian colonial culture that there is no Canada without it, although the flip side of that is also operative: the notion of private property is Canada…

… and when exercised too aggressively is so destructive of the living Earth …

The orchard on the hill grows cherries for the Chinese market, using Mexican Labour.

… it is a mockery of life itself.

Whatever is grown here will be the sap of the enslaved earth. But I have been unfair. Canada is not the Earth. It is capital. It is not alive.

To it, the Earth is just a tool. Step by step by step, the land and the people, who are becoming closer to the land over time, become more and more estranged.

Technology and wealth have given us the power to destroy ourselves. We can stare through the fences at our betters in awe, but that’s about it. It is time for reconciliation. At the moment, all the effort of three generations that has gone into protecting agricultural land means very, very, very little. It is our collective shame that our environmental protection laws were so weak that they not only have allowed this abuse but appear to encourage it.

We don’t get a second Earth. The one we used to have is slipping from our grasp.

1 reply »

  1. Harold, I am so moved by this article. We just drove by this destruction on Bella Vista Road and were shocked and saddened at the folly. I feel your intense anger in your words and thank you for speaking up.

    Like

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