All this points to the need to build alternative food production and distribution systems.
Around the world, food systems are going through a transformation. From large-scale, industrialised farms using chemical fertilisers and pesticides growing mono-culture crops. To small scale and urban farms using natural systems to produce a range of crops.

urban_farmThere are three drivers to this transformation: threats to the security of our food supply; the declining nutritional quality of our foods; and a growing awareness of sustainability in farming practices.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that every year 25,000 million tonnes of topsoil are washed or blown away from rural lands. That level of soil loss is simply not sustainable.

The land management practices causing this, range from deforestation through over-grazing to simply tilling the soil too deeply.

In addition to topsoil removal, soils are becoming degraded.

This happens when nutrients removed with the harvest are not replaced, when soils are allowed to dry out or become water-logged, and when soil microbial life is destroyed by persistent pesticide applications.

The nutritional value of food crops grown in industrialised systems is coming under increasing scrutiny. A recent article in Mother Earth News Industrially Farmed Foods Have Lower Nutritional Content reported that the nutritional content of food staples has declined as the use of high-yield industrial farming practices has increased.

And then there are food security issues.  Climate change brings significant impacts for farmers which increase price volatility and decrease product availability.

All this points to the need to build alternative food production and distribution systems.

The United Nations believes that the future of food lies with small-scale, intensive, local farmers using natural growing methods.

Such a change is advocated by Canadian rockstar market gardeners Jean-Martin (JM) Fortier and Curtis Stone. Importantly, they are earning a good living doing it.

Curtis and JM are sharing their methods at a series of workshops around the country this month. Based on their own practical experiences, the workshops cover starting a farming enterprise with minimal investment, harvesting substantial volumes of healthy organic produce, and ensuring the earnings that come with their approach.

Jean-Martin is a farmer, educator and author specialising in organic and biologically intensive cropping practices. His 1.5 acre farm generates annual revenues of $150,000.

Curtis is a farmer, author and consultant on growing, high value annual vegetables for direct-to-consumer market streams. His one third of an acre urban farm makes over $80,000 per year with over half that as profit.

Want to learn how to be a part of this urban farming transformation? The Six Figure Farming NZ Tour is touring the country now and finishes with a one day workshop by Curtis in Auckland on Wednesday 24th February. Check out for more information.