A person practising small-scale, mixed, energy-efficient, fertility-conserving farming designed chiefly for local subsistence. It is integrated into local culture. It is the defining practice of the community. This model of agriculture, however, became briefly obsolete as the market economy, with its abundant cheap energy, enabled a different one to develop which did not need to supply its own energy and sustain its own fertility.

Peasant farming is a skilled and efficient way of sustaining food production within the limits of the ecology. It is an eco-ethic, sustaining the measured synergy with nature that we find in Taoist philosophy. It has the five properties of resilience.

But it has a flaw. It is highly productive, so it yields a surplus, and this is a tempting resource for the gradual evolution of an urban civic society, with its unstoppable implications of growth, hubris and trouble.

Is there a way of learning from that dismal cycle, and sustaining, instead, a localised, community-based, decentralised society, without the seeds of its own destruction. . . ?


Related entries:

Lean Economy, Lean Food, Intentional Waste.

« Back to List of Entries
David Fleming
Dr David Fleming (2 January 1940 – 29 November 2010) was an economist, historian and writer, based in London. He was among the first to reveal the possibility of peak oil's approach and invented the influential TEQs scheme, designed to address this and climate change. He was also a significant figure in the development of the UK Green Party, the Transition Towns movement and the New Economics Foundation, as well as a Chairman of the Soil Association. His wide-ranging independent analysis culminated in two critically acclaimed books, Lean Logic and Surviving the Future. A film about his perspective and legacy - The Sequel: What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilisation? - was released in 2019, directed by BAFTA-winning director Peter Armstrong. For more information, including on Lean Logic, click the little globe below!

Comment on this entry: