Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

    Organic farming and the sustainable agriculture revolution

    Laney students gathered on Sept 11 at The Forum to hear Juliana Birnbaum speak about the subculture of sustainability and resiliency. She also helped write the book “Sustainable Revolution” and traveled the globe from India to Africa to research environments and their people’s food systems. The focus in this month’s series was on food and agricultural practices since the 1960s.
    Birnbaum studied anthropology at California Institute of Integral Studies, and through her journey and meeting other people in her field, saw that the soil has been possibly utilized in a negative manner.
    The agrochemical corporation Monsanto is a big developer of industrial methods of farming that disrupt the soil’s carbon content. This method also releases carbon into the atmosphere by stirring up the ground, while depleting the carbon in the soil to a point where crops cannot grow.
    Industrial agriculture, according to Birnbaum, has created monocultures systems that produce much higher crop yields by growing a single type of plant on a piece of land.
    “The way that we farm has everything to do with global warming as well,” was the point that Birnbaum emphasized the most during her talk.
    The series, where Birnbaum spoke, is one of four lectures that addressed solutions to alleviate some of the negative effects from mono-cropping. Recognizing that burning fossil fuels was a factor in climate change, Birnbaum told her listeners that looking back at how our ancestors’ techniques worked shows a group living in balance with their environment. She followed up with pictures from Hong Kong that highlighted an example of rooftop agriculture, which is a great method of taking the sun’s solar energy and directly exposing it to the farm planted on top of any home.
    In Tanzania, she saw social and environmental solutions practiced together at a place called the SOS Children’s Village, a network for children without parental care.
    Children were taught how to sustain themselves using farming methods that were practiced long ago, and together learned to empower their own through this knowledge of sustainability.
    “The answer has to do with cycling our fields,” said Birnbaum, and creating a poly-culture of bio-organisms. This is what she considered to be the opposite of mono-cropping. ”Instead of growing just a field of corn, as our ancestors grew, they figured out that different crops can actually benefit each other.”
    The next lecture in October, which will be held in The Forum will deal with growing food and factory farming. November’s lecture will deal with the health effects of eating organic, and what it means to eat conventional foods. December’s lecture will bring in the social justice aspect and the urban farming happening in Oakland.

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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