Is a Culture Based on Gardens Rather than Farms a More Sustainable Path?

Pulitzer-prize winner Jared Diamond calls agriculture “the worst mistake in the history of the human race.” We know that farming in its industrial manifestation destroys topsoil and biodiversity. Recent discoveries show that humanity has paid a steep price for farming’s easy calories in health, longevity, leisure, and even freedom. However, there are ways to live sustainably without going back to the Stone Age. Many societies have lived in harmony with other species and yet have developed art, music, philosophy, medicine, and the other hallmarks of a rich culture. These horticultural societies practice methods that look a lot like permaculture. This session will show us what makes agriculture, and the industrial society based on it, so unsustainable and how permaculture offers us a better way.


Toby Hemenway, Center for Pattern Literacy, Sebastopol, CA.