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Composting at the Gill Tract

Compost Poem

Worms, spiders galore

Piles of dirt to feed the plants

We love our compost

When we went to the Gill Tract on February 27th I learned a lot about compost and about the importance of compost in building up the soil. These photos and the haiku are from our wonderful and informative time at the farm.

In our class on March 6th we focused on agroecology and had the pleasure to learn form a panel of highly intelligent people in the fields surrounding agroecology. The article by Professor Miguel Altieri expands upon the definition of agroecology to include “social, cultural, political, and economic dimensions”. He says that the definition for agroecology is “the application of ecological concepts and principles to the design and management of sustainable agro ecosystems”. The panel from class was extremely helpful with furthering on their definitions of agroecology and it’s importance to modern agriculture. The study of agriculture is more then just scientific analysis; it also involves social systems and the global economy and environment. We need to take in a wide range of factors in order to obtain a more sustainable system of agroecology. During the panel Professor Iles mentioned that agroecology has many more benefits then biotechnology, including that agroecology is much more adaptable because farmers can observe ecologies in real time and make year to year adjustments. However, it is difficult for farmers to transition from industrial agriculture in the U.S. because they are trapped in contracts and policies, and are reliant on subsidies. Our current federal and state agricultural policy systems don’t provide many incentives for agroecology, but they do for industrial agriculture. I found it very interesting that the panelists said that we can’t solve a problem with the logic that created it, so need to include social movements and to adopt a different way of thinking about our agricultural process.

The presentation on agroecology in class was also extremely helpful in expanding on our knowledge on the principles of agroecology. The principles from Professor Altieri’s reading supported the idea of moving away from using agrochemicals including pesticides and herbicides, which I think is crucial to keep the earth and the soil fertile for years to come. I also agree with the panelists that GMOs are not a great solution to increasing food production because they inhibit people both socially and economically. After the panel, I am in complete agreement that it is necessary that we move away from heavy chemical and energy use and towards a multi-dimensional view of agro ecosystems with the focus on science, practice, and social movement. This panel and the reading by Professor Altieri on agroecology were extremely useful on furthering my knowledge on the subject and has furthered my interest in agroecology. It also caused me to think more about what sustainable agriculture fully means and the multiple areas that are affected by it.

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