Awakening to Agroecology



At first the word “agroecology” hits the human ear with the aloof thud of a complex, intellectual abstraction. But in truth it’s a term describing an approach to agriculture that is real, urgent, positive, earth-based, science-informed, and altogether of the heart. We need agroecology now, and we need it on neighborhood, heartland, and planetary scales.

In the universe of ideals for farms and food, agroecology has in recent decades captured international attention. Now it’s becoming better appreciated in North America. Now it stands out as a range of essential, broad, and wise pathways forward for humanity.

One way to think of agroecology is as an umbrella concept, striving to embrace and unite traditional indigenous wisdom ways, and concepts such as food sovereignty, community food, and food justice with the disciplines of ecology, sustainable agriculture and gardening, permaculture, biodynamics, ethics, economics, biology, agronomy, sociology, and more.

The manifold initiatives that readers of Mother Earth News have launched over the decades also, by my reckoning, fit under the broad umbrella of agroecology. Agroecology is, of course, very much a global work in progress, but the positive potential is formidable. That’s what we need.

Our entire relationship to the wider earth as well as to our specific local environments is being challenged. Hard evidence of these hard facts is mounting. Author David Wallace-Wells has brought this front and center with his new book, The Uninhabitable Earth. As the alarm clocks of climate change and environmental contamination continue to clang ferociously, agroecology exists as a way for people to either awaken to positive action, or to stay woke and amp up their efforts.

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