I’ve just returned from the Soil Association Annual Conference, to which I was invited to speak about Transition Town Lewes. (I also showed Keith’s short film of Lewes people and our oil dependence). The conference was called ‘Preparing for a post-peak oil food and farming future’, and it was an urgent call to action to farmers nationally to look at a very different reality. It brought home just how dependent we are on farmers for our survival. (Growing your own is a skilled job - believe me, I’ve tried it). Our current culture has made us massively de-skilled and vulnerable, in the face of great uncertainties. We’re also dependent on transport and supermarkets. Remember the lorry strikes of 2000: the supermarket shelves started to empty after two days and within a week, local food supply would have dried up completely.

Our leaders are talking, theoretically at least, about a 70% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and unless we segue to nuclear, this means a crash diet from oil use. What on earth will that entail? It’s encouraging that a major body such as the Soil Association is starting to look this issue in the eye. If we are to eat in the coming decades, and in order to stop the planet burning, we will need a massive shift in habits. One speaker said up to 20% of the population will take up farming. There was a strange sense of optimism at the end of the conference. Are we ready to let go of our addictions? There’s everything to lose.

Listen to keynote conference speaker Vadana Shiva


Soil. You probably have some in your garden. Go and plant
something in it