Image credit: Punkle's Farm
by Sami Grover, Carrboro, NC, USA
From the sustainability benefits of goat meat to what veganic farming actually looks like, there's been much discussion here lately about the proper role of domesticated animals on the farm. (If indeed there is one.) Here's one farmer's beautifully shot, and powerfully argued, take on why humanely-reared animals play a crucial role in maintaining the nutrient cycle on a working farm.
Farms as Ecosystems
Filmed at Punkle's Farm in Ontario, the video above makes a powerful case for careful, integrated and holistic management of farmland for truly sustainable agriculture. "We don't grow veggies, we grow soil." says farmer Matt (Punkle?). Covering everything from careful soil management to potato towers as a means to grow food vertically in less space, this video checks a lot of the boxes for sustainable agriculture even before we get to the topic of animals.
Animal Husbandry in Sustainable Farming
Nevertheless, from chicken tractors to pigs turning the compost (and of course providing heaps and heaps of manure), this is about as good a case as I have seen for why animals can, and maybe should, be part of a truly sustainable farm. True, as the great video from Huguenot Street Farm showed, compost can be made without animals, and a solar powered tractor is a great fossil-fuel free alternative to oil. Nevertheless, well managed animal husbandry can be a great replacement for both human and mechanical labor, not to mention imported nutrient inputs.
Whatever your views on farming and animals, I hope we can all agree that this is streets ahead of the industrial agricultural competition. I can't see Mr Punkle having a problem with anyone photographing his farm.
More on Sustainable Agriculture and Holistic Farming
Growing Rice in Vermont and Designing for Peak Oil
Goat Meat as an Ethical Alternative to Beef
What Vegan or Veganic Farming Actually Looks Like
Eating Your Friends: Homesteading with Animals