The current farming picture is pretty grim. More constant droughts exacerbated by global warming coupled with a history of environmental vandalism mean we might just need to reevaluated the whole concept of farming. Indeed maybe we need to slice capitalism out of this sector once and for all.

So, some questioning of the current agricultural system appears imperative. The environmental cost of farming in Australia is incalculable. The loss of trees in the past two hundred years, millions possibly? Water resources have been squandered, rivers dredged, dammed and redirected, generally in the name of agriculture. Water wasteful irrigation channels smear across vast belts of land. All this coupled with the basic fact that as an ancient continent, this country has a slim top soil layer which farmers plunder. Soil is blown by strong winds from Western NSW across Sydney out into the Pacific and potentially NZ! Sydneysiders mutter, “how dare those Kiwis take our top soil!”

We also know that the days of big steaks, pork crackling, and roast lamb are waining, eventually all will be subject to a carbon tax. It’s the farting, supposedly. Not sure what this means for flatulent humans…? Chooks and vegetables remain on the menu. Fruit is still in the good bucket despite sugar content.

Many Australia’s orchards are grown in an environmentally unsustainable manner. Trees are planted closely maximizing land usage and radically pruned to ensure annual cropping. As a consequence orchards are intensively irrigated. Varieties are minimized to those few species that can exist within ranges of maximum storage and cartage. Such a shame, we are loosing choice and taste!

Ok how do we squirm out this situation.?

Perhaps we need to start in cities and towns. What about pressure on local government to play a useful part? Fruitful gardens could receive a rates discount, following ripping out the rhododendrons etc. and planting of fruits trees. Perhaps council election could engage in a little bargaining on discounts “for a lower rate elect me” and so on, possibly brightening up Local Government elections no end! And indeed Council could lead the way by planted fruit trees in streets and in parks.

Sounds quite promising and with a little digging and effort the householder is off to excellent fruit as well as rates cuts. Some info on trees needs to be provided: peach trees are a little slack in longevity, figs are very resourceful and have long lives. Nut trees are excellent and can have centuries of life. Forget almond trees, they are very dependent on bees and provide little in return for our benevolent little buzzing insects.

Now quite a number of fruit trees can be grown in an average suburban back yard. And vegetables a plenty can also added to the garden. For the new gardener the quest for the most amazing tomato is a grand experience as there is such an abundance of varieties which never appear on the supermarket shelves.

Currently groups of gardeners have swap Saturdays for plants, fruit and veggies. Now this brings into play those folk living in high rise as they can actually process food and come back next week for further processed delectables to swaps. And weekly food swaps are very social.

Now of course larger plots of land, let us mention Battery Point and Point Piper, quite good chunks of urban land potentially suitable, well, not for a dairy cows (and bulls can be quite noisy) but certainly for a few goats. Goats on the Points could be a radical catch cry!

Perhaps some rating penalties could be imposed on Pointer folk who do not engage in goat management.

Fine and excellent, the suburbs providing veges and fruit, the inner city processing the produce and the rich Pointers providing milk.

We might have to accept that grain growers carry on, perhaps not burning stubble and causing soil erosion, but frankly we need our daily bread and malt, yes malt.

As finally we all need to do some brewing. Beer is essential and hops grows like a little trogan in much of Tasmania and Eastern Vic. With hops and malt, good beer is a two week turn around. Fruits are very brewable. Test the alcohol ladder with say medlar or rose petal wine. Perhaps test on yourself first. But potentially no more need for trips to the bottle shop.

The inner city folk currently brew at home so at those Saturday swaps … alcohol might add a very pleasant option.

Socialism for agriculture, grow it yourself, swap it and have a lot of fun. And poke a stick at capitalism as you do it!

Josephine Zananiri lives in the Independent electorate of Indi and currently works in the manual labour arena tending native and exotic trees, so has plenty of time to think. Followed everywhere by her two dogs Percy and Fino who generally agree on all subjects, only occasionally deserting the conversation in the chase for samba deer! Slight differences in logic can therefore be attributed to the two woofers leaving their critical post!