Arch-localiser Julian Rose, who developed his farm as a mixed organic enterprise selling all its main produce locally, while refusing to sell to supermarkets, has developed a theory of local production and consumption which he named “The Proximity Principle.”
The theme of his website and book [opposite] is “Changing Course for Life – Local Solutions to Global Problems”.
Last week he sent news about the Faringdon Action Plan launched in 2000. Its ambitious goal: to make Faringdon perhaps the first British market town (or just ‘town’) to demonstrate the ability to achieve as near as possible self sufficiency in food and energy with more use of local fibre also a priority by 2015.
The suggestion was, that by looking more closely at the potential capacity of local farms and other productive land surrounding Faringdon, we might discover that almost all the basic food and fuel needs of the town could be met without having to resort to imports.
The validity of this objective is coming a step closer with the substantial rise in food and fuel prices we are now witnessing. If one considers what is behind these rises three things stand out: speculative gambling on global commodity markets, extreme weather intervention and the beginning of the end of oil as a cheap fossil fuel.
Extra foodmiles raise the price and the amount of CO2 into the atmosphere
Every extra mile that food is transported is putting an extra price on that product and an extra degree of CO2 into the atmosphere. It is also having a deleterious effect on the quality of the food being transported – particularly if it is what we term ‘fresh food.’ [More on this subject here.]
Due to our growing awareness of these issues we can now see the advantage of ‘local food for locals’. Once we also feel the effects on our pockets even hardened sceptics are more likely to come around.
Well it’s starting to hurt now, and other than choosing to put our faith and money into the likes of Tesco and Waitrose, which suck money out of the local economy and into the distorted world of global commodity trading, we have little choice other than to look closer to home for our daily needs. And anyone who has picked a vegetable out of their garden and the eaten it soon afterwards knows that this is a pleasurable experience and one which would be nice to replicate.
So, if our original goals are to be realised, we have just 4 years left to ensure that this experience can indeed be replicated – and not just with the vegetables, but with most of our milk, meat and fruit needs as well.
Majority of farms under pressure to survive in the oil dependent, long food mile supermarket culture of 2011
By some seeming act of divine intervention Faringdon is blessed with having some 17 ecologically managed farms right in its back yard. No other UK town can claim such a phenomenal concentration. The majority of these farms are under increasing pressure to survive in the oil dependent, long food mile supermarket culture of 2011. Thousands more are equally afflicted all over the country. They could all be out of business in five years time.
‘Being the market’ for our local food producers - a ‘hub’
There’s one way we can turn all that around: by taking advantage of ‘being the market’ for our local food producers and by gratefully accepting the pleasure of a diet which cannot be matched by any global institution however clever its advertising and PR outreach.
A replicable example?
It will not need big money to make this happen. But it will mean applying imagination and spark – and not squandering a great opportunity, which is asking to be responded to – as a replicable example to communities all over this war torn commercially corrupted world.