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New market garden production as replacement of imported vegetables and fruits : a strategy for rural… Bazley, Bruce Ian 2019

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	  NEW MARKET GARDEN PRODUCTION AS REPLACEMENT OF IMPORTED VEGETABLES AND FRUITS - A STRATEGY FOR RURAL RENEWAL IN THE PROVINCE OF ALBERTA CANADA  by  Bruce Ian Bazley  B. Architecture, University of Toronto, 1972  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  Master Of Advanced Studies In Architecture  in  THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES    THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  February 2019  © Bruce Ian Bazley, 2019 	    	  ii	    The	  following	  individuals	  certify	  that	  they	  have	  read,	  and	  recommend	  to	  the	  Faculty	  of	  Graduate	  and	  Postdoctoral	  Studies	  for	  acceptance,	  a	  thesis/dissertation	  entitled:	  	  NEW MARKET GARDEN PRODUCTION AS REPLACEMENT OF IMPORTED VEGETABLES AND FRUITS - A STRATEGY FOR RURAL RENEWAL IN THE PROVINCE OF ALBERTA CANADA 	  submitted	  by	  	  	  	  	  Bruce	  Ian	  Bazley	  	  in	  partial	  fulfillment	  of	  the	  requirements	  for	  the	  	  degree	  of	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  Master	  of	  Advanced	  Studies	  in	  Architecture	  	  	  in	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  Architecture	  and	  Landscape	  Architecture	  	  Examining	  Committee:	  John	  Bass	  Supervisor	  	  Chris	  Macdonald	  Supervisory	  Committee	  Member	  	  Kees	  Lokman	  Supervisory	  Committee	  Member	  	  Additional	  Examiner	  	  	  	  	  Additional	  Supervisory	  Committee	  Members:	  	  Supervisory	  Committee	  Member	  	  Supervisory	  Committee	  Member	    	  iii	  Abstract Despite a robust economy and large agricultural export industry, Alberta's rural areas, confront a number of social and economic challenges: institutional closures, rural flight, and lack of educational or job opportunities. These problems are exacerbated by the presence of large, commodity-oriented, farm and feed lots operations that require few employees thus further limiting the rural population and subsequent range of services. Additionally, production so focuses on forage and commodity crops as to create a scenario out of tune with 'traditional' farm practices, thus forcing Alberta to import $400 million+/- (2018$) of conventional, Alberta producible, fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, little of that grown in Alberta is processed in Alberta. These intertwined conditions gave rise to the proposal that development of an extensive and labour intensive market garden industry, and local processing, might result in the sufficient increase in rural populations to trigger broad social and economic growth.   The investigation focused on the review of primarily academic research and findings in six key areas: 1. Nature of conventional and farm family income-work strategies  2. Evolution, extent, and roles of rural multi-functionalism and off-farm income  3. Rural stakeholder requirements and attitudes towards non-traditional practices 4. Society's attitudes and commitment to the 'Slow Food and Local Food' movements 5. Maximization of production and sustainability on small market garden farms 6. Alternate local distribution and marketing strategies for producers outside the mainstream, integrated, food-value chains  The proposed small market garden approach was then evaluated against these findings plus analysis of achievement in conventional metrics: sustainability, viability, and social contribution.   While	  the	  evidence	  suggests	  that	  Alberta	  based	  market	  gardens	  could	  replace	  $400	  million	  of	  imports	  while	  generating	  six	  hundred	  million	  dollars	  more	  in	  induced	  activity,	  the	  number	  of	  new	  residents	  generated	  would	  not	  be	  sufficient	  to	  initiate	  rural	  	  iv	  renewal	  or	  social	  revival;	  although,	  they	  would	  contribute	  to	  improving	  the	  broad	  rural	  experience.	  	   Concurrently,	  research	  suggests	  that	  significant	  potential	  exists,	  even	  in	  developed	  economies;	  to	  generate	  extensive	  additional	  rural	  economic	  activity	  through	  easily	  pursued	  initiatives	  by	  local	  stakeholders	  and	  small	  entrepreneurs	  operating	  in	  other	  rural	  industries.	  Market	  gardens	  are	  but	  one	  part	  of	  an	  achievable	  rural	  revival.	  	     	  v	  Lay Summary:  This work explores whether multiple small, but commercially scaled, market garden, farms in Alberta could significantly impact provincial rural social renewal and economic development. The approach mates academic writings on the topics of rural problems, past efforts and failures, plus evolving strategies, with those addressing emerging social attitudes and practices such as slow food and rural conservation to ascertain if there is support for province-wide, local, food systems. Found able to replace up to $400 million in imported fruits and vegetables, the work identifies and discusses the techniques necessary to grow, distribute, and market this potential harvest. While the proposed market gardens could generate up to one billion dollars in total annual rural activity, plus contribute to more vibrant rural communities, the small resulting increase in the rural population alone would be insufficient, compared to normal annualized population growth, to trigger significant 'additional' improvements in the broader rural social environment. 	    	  vi	  Preface:  This work is solely the product of the author's efforts, which gratefully builds on the extensive, and insightful, work documented in the publications of the many researchers cited in the various fields which it addresses.    	  vii	  Table of Contents Abstract............................................................................................................. iii Lay Summary .....................................................................................................v	  	  Preface .............................................................................................................. vi	   Table of Contents ............................................................................................ vii List of Tables  .................................................................................................... x	  	  List of Figures .................................................................................................. xi	  	  Acknowledgements ....................................................................................... xvii	  	   CHAPTER 1: RURAL PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS ............................. 1 INTRODUCTION	  	  	  	  ...............................................................................................................................1	  the	  END	  OF	  AMERICAN	  AGRICULTURE	  	  	  ................................................................................	  9	  HOLLOWING	  OF	  THE	  MIDDLE	  	  	  ................................................................................................18	  POWER'S	  POWER	  TO	  THE	  RURAL	  ..........................................................................................	  26	  CONTESTED	  LANDSCAPE	  	  	  .........................................................................................................	  32	  OPERATING	  CONTEXT	  &	  REALITY	  CHECK	  	  	  .......................................................................	  42	  SUMMARY	  	  	  ........................................................................................................................................	  48	   CHAPTER 2: WHY RURAL RENEWAL? .................................................. 49 INTRODUCTION	  	  -­‐	  THE	  THREE	  RURALS	  	  .............................................................................	  49	  "WHY"	  RURAL	  RENEWAL	  	  ..........................................................................................................	  51	  RURAL	  HEALTH	  IN	  A	  HEALTHY	  RURAL	  	  	  ............................................................................	  56	  PROJECT	  GOAL	  ................................................................................................................................	  59	  APPROACH	  ........................................................................................................................................	  61	  MULTI-­‐FUNCTIONAL	  RURAL	  &	  RURAL	  MULTI-­‐FUNCTIONALISM...........................	  65	  	   SUMMARY	  	  .........................................................................................................................................	  79	  	  	  	  	  	  	  viii	  CHAPTER 3: WHAT IS RURAL? ................................................................ 81 INTRODUCTION	  ..............................................................................................................................	  81	  DATA&	  ANALYSIS	  ..........................................................................................................................	  91	  	   Perception	  of	  Perception	  	  	  ............................................................................................	  91	  UNIT	  COUNTS	  &	  DENSIT...............................................................................................................92	  DENSITY	  CONCLUSION.................................................................................................................	  97	  PREFERENCES	  IN	  CHANGE	  ........................................................................................................	  98	  WHAT	  IS	  A	  FARM	  .........................................................................................................................	  101	  SUMMARY	  .......................................................................................................................................	  105	  	  	  CHAPTER 4: NEW WORK, NEW WORKERS & NEW LAND ............. 106 INTRODUCTION	  	  &	  DeGROWTH	  	  ..........................................................................................	  106	  SHARING	  ECONOMY	  	  ...................................................................................................................109	  COMMON	  KNOWLEDGE	  FOR	  THE	  COMMON	  GOOD	  	  ....................................................113	  NEW	  WORLD	  OF	  THE	  "NEW	  WORLD"	  ...............................................................................	  119	  NEW	  LIFESTYLES	  -­‐	  NEW	  IDEAS	  	  ............................................................................................127	  STAKEHOLDER	  OBJECTIVES	  &	  ENABLING	  POLICIES	  .................................................	  137	  	   Water	  Matters	  Matter	  ...................................................................................................138	  	   Land	  Use	  Planning	  	  ........................................................................................................154	  	   Rural	  and	  Agricultural	  Development	  (GoA)	  .......................................................160	  CLIMATE	  CHANGE	  .......................................................................................................................	  170	  SUMMARY	  	  ......................................................................................................................................	  181	   CHAPTER 5: WHAT-WHY- and HOW ..................................................... 182 INTRODUCTION	  ...........................................................................................................................	  182	  HOUSING	  	  ........................................................................................................................................	  185	  ORIGIONAL	  THESIS	  CONCEPT	  (2012)	  ................................................................................186	  WATER	  .............................................................................................................................................	  189	  FARMING	  (FOOD)	  .........................................................................................................................204	  	   But	  What	  Is	  'Local'	  ........................................................................................................	  213	  SIZE,	  GROW	  WHAT	  DISTRIBUTE	  HOW	  ?	  ............................................................................224	  GROWING	  WHAT	  .........................................................................................................................	  233	  MULTIPLE	  JOB	  HOLDING	  ..........................................................................................................236	  NEW	  FARMERS	  .............................................................................................................................	  247	  NEW	  LAND	  	  ...................................................................................................................................	  	  251	  MORE	  WATER	  ...............................................................................................................................	  256	  	  	  	  	  ix	  	  CHAPTER 6: : FARMING ........................................................................... 262 INTRODUCTION	  .&	  FARMING	  PHILOSOPHIES................................................................	  262	  WHAT	  CAN	  GROW	  ......................................................................................................................	  269	  TREES,	  BUSHES,	  &	  SHELTERBELTS	  	  ....................................................................................273	  PLOUGHING	  AHEAD	  -­‐	  'HOW	  TO'.............................................................................................286	  TOOLS	  &	  EQUIPMENT.................................................................................................................300	  MARKETS	  	  .......................................................................................................................................	  311	  ESTABLISHING	  A	  FOOD	  HUB	  ..................................................................................................	  346	  	  	  CHAPTER 7: SUMMARY, EVALUATION,  & CONCLUSIONS .............. 363 TARGET	  MARKET	  &	  TARGET	  PRODUCE............................................................................	  363	  AVAILABILITY	  QUANTIFICATION	  ........................................................................................	  366	  FARM	  LOCATION	  ANALYSIS	  ...................................................................................................	  373	  ANALYSIS	  ........................................................................................................................................	  376	  	  NON-­‐ECONOMIC	  BENEFITS	  .....................................................................................................385	  EVALUATION	  ACROSS	  DIVERSE	  CRITERIA	  .....................................................................	  392	  	   External	  Evaluation	  .......................................................................................................392	  	   Internal	  Evaluation	  .......................................................................................................	  401	  PROJECT	  OBJECTIVE	  EVALUATION	  ....................................................................................	  406	  CONCLUSIONS	  -­‐	  AN	  ALTERNATIVE	  VISION	  ?	  .................................................................	  408	  	  	  CITATIONS:      ........................................................................................... 413 APPENDICES ............................................................................................... 422  Appendix A: Original Thesis Concept (September 2012) ................... 422  Appendix B:  Food Hub Information Resources .................................. 426     	  x	  List of Tables TABLE 1.1 Preferences For Rural Housing - Percentages ....................................................................... 33  TABLE 1.2 Pleasures of ‘Country Living’ - Percentages  ......................................................................... 34 	  Table 2.1: Comparative Yields Between Large and Small Farms $/Acre .............................................. 80  TABLE 3.1:  Rural Density - Comparative Analysis .................................................................................. 93  TABLE 3.2:  Diagonal Corridor – View Analysis Data .............................................................................. 96  TABLE 4.1: Community Return on Investing in or Holding Residents ................................................... 112  TABLE 4.2: Typical Crop Yields in Variable Units ................................................................................ 151  Table 4.3: Medium Scenario Projected Climate Change Conditions ................................................... 174  Table 4.4:  Averaged Seasonal Changes in Basin Precipitation ............................................................ 176  TABLE 5.1: Fortier – Start Up Costs ....................................................................................................... 227  TABLE 5.2: J.M. Fortier – Typical Crops and Gross Annual Return (2014$) ........................................ 228  TABLE 5.3: [Repeat of Table 2.1] FARM SIZE – VS- YIELD / ACRE – US 1992 ................................................................. 230  TABLE 5.4: Total and Net Farm Incomes – Canada & Alberta 2016 ..................................................... 242  TABLE 7.1 Alberta: Consolidated Fruit & Vegetable Import Data (Working) ...................................... 365  TABLE 7.2:  Comparative - 'Corridor View Analysis' .............................................................................. 391	    	  xi	  List of Figures 	  FIGURE 1.1: Decline in U.S. & Canadian Rural Population as % of Whole ................................................ 2   FIGURE 1.2 Iowa Farmland – Abundance in the middle of 'nowhere' .......................................................11  FIGURE 1.3 Percentage of Farmer Directed Conservation No-Till Practice.............................................. 17  FIGURE 1.4 Hollowing of the ‘Middle Farms’  - % Change Iowa 1987 -1997 ..........................................19  FIGURE 1.5 Hollowing of the ‘Middle’ in Canadian Farms ...................................................................... 19  FIGURE 1.6:  Primary Study Area – Southeastern Alberta  ......................................................................... 42  FIGURE 1.7 Historic Urban & Rural Population Movement - Alberta ...................................................... 45   FIGURE 2.1: "NEW/Old West" - Western Optimism! ................................................................................ 62   FIGURE 3.1:  Comparison of Northern & Southern Alberta Landscapes ................................................... 85  FIGURE 3.2:  Comparative Densities ........................................................................................................... 86  FIGURE 3.3:  Basic Aerial Image & Aspects – Southern Alberta ............................................................... 87  FIGURE 3.4:  Diagonal View Corridor - Southern Alberta........................................................................... 90  FIGURE 3.5:  Perception Problems at Various Scales .................................................................................. 92  FIGURE 3.6:  Comparative Structure Density / Square Mile ....................................................................... 94 	  xii	   FIGURE: 3.7: Southern Alberta – Diag. Analysis  Northwest To Southeast ............................................... 95  FIGURE: 3.8 Sussek, England – Diag. Analysis  Northwest To Southeast ................................................. 95  FIGURE: 3.9 Delaware - Diagonal Analysis  Northwest To Southeast ....................................................... 95  FIGURE: 3.10 Georgia- Diagonal Analysis  Northwest To Southeast .......................................................... 95  FIGURE 3.11:  Lemington Ontario – Typical Aerial Views .......................................................................... 98  FIGURE 3.12 Canadian Farm - Infographic ............................................................................................... 103    FIGURE 4.1: Decline in Extractive Industries by Percentage ................................................................... 110   FIGURE 4.2: Creative Destruction-Enhancement in Agriculture .............................................................. 126  FIGURE 4.3: Rural Business Attributes and Overlaps .............................................................................. 136  FIGURE 4.4 Allocation - vs - Use - vs- Entitlement ................................................................................ 146  FIGURE 4.5 Allocation by User Group .................................................................................................... 148   FIGURE 5.1 Ebenezer Howard’s Three Magnets of Attraction ............................................................... 185  FIGURE 5.2 Original Concept for ‘Housing Based’ Rural Development ............................................... 186  FIGURE 5.3 Water -vs- Non-Water Environment Preferences ............................................................... 190  	  xiii	  FIGURE 5.4: Christo’s Walking Water Exhibition - Lake Iseo, Italy , June 2016  ................................... 195  FIGURE 5.5 Alternate Canal Activities .................................................................................................... 197  FIGURE 5.6: HYDROVOLT’S In-Canal Micro-Generator  ...................................................................... 199  FIGURE 5.7: Headworks Open Main Canal  .............................................................................................. 202  FIGURE 5.8: Linear, Canal-Side Villages ................................................................................................. 202  FIGURE 5.9: CPR's Opening the West Vision .......................................................................................... 203  FIGURE 5.10: Alberta’s Trade Deficit – Vegetables & Fruits .................................................................... 208  FIGURE 5.11: Food Travel Miles – Typical –vs- Necessary ....................................................................... 214  FIGURE 5.12: Coleman [Four Season] & Fortier [Les Jardins] - Small Farms .......................................... 226  FIGURE 5.13 Alberta Produce – Current Availability ............................................................................... 233  FIGURE 5.14: Centre-Point Irrigation System  & Irrigation Pattern .......................................................... 251  FIGURE 5.15: Under-Utilized Land with Centre-Point Irrigation .............................................................. 252  FIGURE 5.16: Under-Utilized Land - Overlaid with Fortier Market Garden Farm .................................... 254  FIGURE 5.17: Potential Closures of Under-Utilized [Unnecessary] Roads ................................................ 255      	  xiv	  FIGURE 6.1: Integrated Asian Small Farm Operation .............................................................................. 263  FIGURE 6.2: Comparative Weather for Key Fruit-Vegetable Areas ........................................................ 269  FIGURE 6.3: Alberta Field- Crop Availability Season & Dates ............................................................... 271  FIGURE 6.4: Shelterbelt Effects - General ................................................................................................ 272  FIGURE 6.5: Shelterbelt Effects by Attribute ........................................................................................... 272  FIGURE 6.6: Shelterbelt Affects on Crop Yields – Spring Wheat ........................................................... 273  FIGURE 6.7: Daylighting With Attendant Riparian Rejuvenation ........................................................... 278  FIGURE 6.8: Bed Spacing - To accommodate 30" wheel walking tractor ................................................ 286  FIGURE 6.9: Tight Bed Spacing - Advantages ......................................................................................... 287  FIGURE 6.10: Hoop House & Hoop Tunnel Protection .............................................................................. 292  FIGURE 6.11: Hoop Tunnels & Plastic Fabric Cover ................................................................................. 293  FIGURE 6.12: Moving Hoop Housing & Relocation Strategy .................................................................... 294  FIGURE 6.13: Hoop House & Winter Use Division ................................................................................... 296  FIGURE 6.14: Allen’s Aquaponics Green House – Section ........................................................................ 297  FIGURE 6.15: Allen’s Aquaponics Setup ....................................................................................................  298   	  xv	  FIGURE 6.16: Allen’s Upper Area Use – Hanging Plants .......................................................................... 298  FIGURE 6.17: Walking Tractor with Rotating Handles .............................................................................. 300  FIGURE 6.18: “Tilther” ............................................................................................................................... 301  FIGURE 6.19: “Greens Harvester” .............................................................................................................. 302  FIGURE 6.20: “Quick-Cut Greens Harvester” ............................................................................................ 303  FIGURE 6.21: “Harvest Star”  ...................................................................................................................... 304  FIGURE 6.22: Broadfork ............................................................................................................................ 305  FIGURE 6.23: Modified Plant Spade – More Efficient & Comfortable ...................................................... 305  FIGURE 6.24: “CoolBot”  ............................................................................................................................ 309  FIGURE 6.25: Food Dollar - Farmer's Share & General Disbursement ...................................................... 312  FIGURE 6.26 Source of Alberta Produced Food Purchased  ...................................................................... 314  FIGURE 6.27 Source of School Food Purchases (U.S.) ............................................................................. 315  FIGURE 6.28: Hub – Product Offerings ...................................................................................................... 351  FIGURE 6.29: Hub – Product Offerings  by Dollar Percentage of Sales ..................................................... 351   FIGURE 6.30: Hub –  Services Offered ....................................................................................................... 353  	  xvi	  FIGURE 6.31: Hub – Customers by Percentage of HUBS Engaging ........................................................... 355  FIGURE 6.32: Hub-vs-Business Survival Rates .......................................................................................... 359  FIGURE 6.33: Hub-vs-Business General Resilience ................................................................................... 360   FIGURE 7.1 Alberta: Raw Fruit & Vegetable Import Data (Portion) ...................................................... 364  FIGURE 7.2 Consumer Expectation of Seasonal Supply & Quantitative % Available From  Field Crops in Albert ........................................................................................................... 367  FIGURE 7.3: Market Garden - Distribution Options at Maximum 2064 ................................................... 373  FIGURE 7.4: Maximum Rural Density with Added Market Gardens - 2064 ............................................ 374  FIGURE 7.5: Road Closures Generated  'New' Neighbourhoods, Walkways, & Habitat Corridors .................................................... 386  FIGURE 7.6:   Density Comparison Alberta Max to Non-Canadian Minimum .......................................... 388  FIGURE 7.7:  Maximum Potential Market Garden Density ....................................................................... 389  FIGURE 7.8:  Alberta Existing - 'Corridor View Analysis' ........................................................................ 390  FIGURE 7.9:  Alberta Maximum Density in 'Corridor View Analysis' ..................................................... 390  FIGURE: 7.10 Georgia- Diagonal Analysis  Northwest to Southeast ......................................................... 390    	  xvii	  Acknowledgements 	  I	  wish	  to	  acknowledge	  the	  contributions	  of	  Dr.	  Jennie	  L.	  Moore	  and	  Dr.	  Tim	  McDaniels	  through	  whose	  courses	  I	  respectively	  discovered	  a	  new	  way	  of	  viewing	  the	  environment	  and	  then	  evaluating	  any	  decisions	  to	  be	  made	  within	  it.	  As	  'teachers'	  in	  the	  broadest	  sense,	  these	  instructors	  helped	  to	  both	  lay	  the	  foundation	  for	  this	  work	  and	  establish	  a	  process	  through	  which	  it	  could	  be	  realized.	  	  	  I	  must	  also	  recognize	  the	  assistance	  provided	  by	  my	  faculty	  advisor	  Prof.	  John	  Bass	  whose	  work	  and	  writings	  on	  the	  Sacramento-­‐San	  Joaquin	  river	  delta	  provided	  an	  early	  matrix	  through	  which	  to	  evaluate	  interrelated	  questions	  and	  theories	  of	  water,	  irrigation,	  and	  rural	  lifestyle.	  	  	  I	  also	  wish	  to	  thank	  my	  thesis	  review	  committee,	  Professors	  Chris	  Macdonald	  and	  Kees	  Lokman,	  for	  their	  feedback	  during	  the	  review	  process.	  	  	  	  	  	  Finally,	  I	  wish	  to	  thank:	  CL,	  CM,	  CJ,	  LW,	  AND	  WB	  for	  their	  continuing	  support	  and	  endless	  encouragement.	  	   	  1	  CHAPTER 1: RURAL PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS Get big, or get out! Ezra Taft Benson1 U.S. Secretary of Agriculture (1953 – 1961)  U.S. Farmers have the highest suicide  rate of any occupation group  U.S. Center for Disease Control & Prevention2 July 1, 2016 INTRODUCTION:  It would not be much of an exaggeration to suggest that it is nearly impossible to find contemporary literature that either extols the success of today’s agriculture or heralds a bright future for rural areas, communities, and societies. Whether one is discussing current rural areas in general or agriculture specifically in developed or developing nations the literature is somber in tone, at best, and almost apocalyptic at worst.  Concurrently, the literature is ripe with positive works suggesting how changes in each writer’s own area of interest can reverse rural disruption. The trick lies in applying the technologies and practices of the latter to correct the problems of the former without destroying agriculture and rural societies in the process. This work explores these issues as they relate to the context of south-central Alberta and in particular to the irrigated farmlands found within the Calgary-Lethbridge-Medicine Hat triangle.   Predictably, writings on North American rural and agriculture scenes, henceforth the area of reference for this work, run the gamut of views. Blank (1998) predicts that American agriculture will totally disappear as an industry, while Power (1996) believes that it is essentially fine and following a normal course of industrial, social, and rural evolution. The most positive vision of an achievable agricultural future can be found in the farm practices 	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  1	  This	  quote	  is	  generally	  attributed	  to	  Earl	  Butz,	  US	  Secretary	  of	  Agriculture	  (1971	  -­‐1976);	  however,	  he	  merely	  expanded	  upon	  the	  idea	  and	  exhorted	  farmers	  to	  “get	  bigger,	  get	  better,	  or	  get	  out”.	  2	  	  Access	  at:	  	  www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6525a1.htm	  (July	  /	  2018).	  This	  occupation	  group	  includes	  fishermen	  and	  foresters,	  all	  workers	  from	  extractive	  industries.	  	  2	  and writings of Joel Salatin, discussed in chapter 6 whose half-century of ‘traditional’ farming on his Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia generates bountiful harvests of high-quality, chemical-free crops and superior, grass-fed, hormone-free animals.  It is widely offered that the disruption in modern agriculture, and the associated decline in rural population, Fig. 1.1 is due to the adoption of neoliberal ideas in agricultural practices, government policies, and world trade. However, one must acknowledge that the on-going disruption found it roots in changes associated with the application of the industrial revolution’s principles to agriculture at the end of the 18th century. Hundreds of millions of horses would have overrun North America replacing 275+/- million (2015) cars and trucks without that revolution. Agriculture may flourish under such a ‘traditional’ regime; however, society would drown under the resulting equine ‘pollution’. Neoliberal policies did not cause rural social and agricultural disruption they merely accelerated them.    FIGURE 1.1: Decline in U.S. & Canadian Rural Population as % of Whole  As research would eventually show, North America's rural societies and economies are entwined in an intricate interwoven fabric encompassing often competing threads of traditional lifestyle values and cutting-edge agricultural technology; mega farms with vertically integrated value 	  3	  chains and small holdings where parents work off-farm solely to preserve the family farm; a market system where a mega-farm, export oriented, commodity producer serves Rhode Island turkey, Canadian cucumbers, and Mexican tomatoes at Thanksgiving while their traditional farming neighbours scrape by at near subsistence levels.   While this work explores these circumstances and seeks to offer solutions, at least in an Alberta context, one must first address the generally unspoken question, "Why bother?"  This question is explored in the second chapter from the perspectives of: (i) the natural rural which is self-healing and not requiring our attention, (ii) the resource rural, mainly agricultural, which feeds the nation, and (iii) the social rural comprised of those seven in eight rural residents who are not dependent upon the agricultural rural.   Obviously, any society will protect its food sources, whether domestic or foreign, a position which this work accepts while questioning that sourcing. Even preserving the rural as it currently exists, to protect although not enhance the present population, is justified on pragmatic terms alone, No society can, nor would dare, abandon some 16-18% of its population; especially, if they are the ones who till the fields and gather the harvest. That is not to say that they cannot do better by its rural brethren, it is to say that they can't do less; they must preserve the rural.   However, chapter two moves beyond the mere justification for saving or renewal of the three rurals "Because it's there." and explores the role that nature, now often in the form of managed agricultural landscapes, plays in the cultural psyche and general well being of the human species. It explores the link between trees, and surgery recovery times, why psychiatric patients vandalize abstract paintings but not rural scenes, and how people seek out and respond to nature as a balance against the stress of urban life. Finally, the work drawing on observations and past research offers a direction in which farmers in the specific and rural societies in the general might move aggressively in their search for solutions to existing rural problems.  That direction is multi-functionalism, both on the farm and within the broader society. Multi-functionalism as pursued within this work acknowledges three realities and one conclusion:  	  4	   i) society needs food and will continue to require it in ever increasing quantities  ii) current agricultural regimes are not, in general, supply a sufficiently high    economic return to sustain its surrounding social environment, and  iii) urbanites want more by way of environmental services from nature i.e. the   rural, than just grain and space; therefore.  iv) within their existing land base, rural societies must find a means to generate:   more food, more economic activity, and increased amenities. This triumvirate of goals can only be met through multi-functionalism, the overarching theory or approach that lies at the heart of this work.  While one can easily task the rural with doing 'more', it is somewhat more difficult to define exactly what that 'rural' is. Obviously, there are many versions of what the rural entails but whereas it is also a socially constructed environment there are equally numerous diverse conceptions of what is 'should' be. As with any locale, Alberta's rural or agricultural landscape is 'what it is'. However, as this work anticipates changing the rural landscape in some form, rather than defining what is rural in Alberta, we need to determine how much change can be introduced before what 'is' becomes what 'was'.  How much can one add or detract from the existing landscape without changing the essence of what that landscape should be, or at a minimum is?   Chapter three describes three distinct   analyses that gauge various aspects of humanity's intrusion on the land. Employing aerial images, the first exercise used farm structures as surrogates for rural population to compare the density of farm families in nine Alberta and five non-Alberta settings. Working on the basis of a 36 [6x6] square mile area, which constitutes a county in Alberta, the analysis calculated an average Alberta density of 111 farms per county versus 460 in Georgia, U.S.A., 397 in Delaware, and 453 in the U.K.'s Sussex County. The second evaluation compared landscape features seen within a half-kilometer of two hypothetical diagonal roads that bisected each county. The goal of this comparison being to highlight the typical barrenness of the prairie landscape versus the more traditional trees and field vistas of  	  5	  eastern North America and Europe. Finally, an ad-hoc subjective evaluation was made of driving-landscape interactions wherein the distance between first siting and the subsequent arrival adjacent to a noteworthy rural feature was noted in order to provide a sense of the spatial ordering of affecting, artificial, prairie intrusions.    These three exercises not only provided an immediate and objective comparison between differing rural settings, but established an Alberta baseline against which proposed changes might be judged for degree of impact, comparison to existing alternate rural environments and hence a sense of their potential acceptability.   Determining an appropriate course or range of action within the prevailing culture and regulatory environments is discussed in chapter four which looks at the Alberta context from two distinct perspectives. The first explores broad social attitudes and emerging trends that could either support or hinder rural change and the strategies by which they might be incorporated or avoided. The second documents the goals and objectives of area stakeholders, primarily government agencies, and various water authorities upon whose support all development depends. Included within the stakeholder dialogue is reference to the role which climate change, mainly beneficial, will have on the southern Alberta landscape in general and agricultural production in particular.  In general, the review indicates that both Alberta's current and future rural societies are moving towards a less 'driven' consumptive society in which personal well being and family values are gaining increasing awareness and respect. One can see within the writings threads suggesting a move towards a more caring and increasingly sharing community which while maintaining its productionist output recognizes broader environmental and community goals.  As for the stakeholders, they are essentially unanimous in their calls for rural economic diversity by way of smaller and innovative multi-functional enterprises while also retaining the existing commodity crop environment. One senses that the government is cognizant of, and responding to, both the market uncertainties and intellectual corseting that the mono-crop regime imposes on rural economies and its restriction of the vitality of the communities serving it.   	  6	   Having established Alberta's development goals and evolving social context in which they will be pursued in the previous chapter, chapter five evaluates three primary avenues through which they might be adopted: extensive residential development, diversification of irrigation water uses, and increased agricultural production.   Residential development in the form of clustered housing surrounding new lagoons strung like pearls along the major waterways had provided the initial impetus to the work based on the hope that "If you build it 'they' will come." and the belief that 'they' would trigger the new jobs and additional economic activity underpinning the revitalization of the rural society. However, this approach was dropped in part because subsequent research illustrated that as subsequently noted, the strength of the rural lifestyle is predicated in large measure on its adherence to an underlying pattern of attributes which are as much physical, housing and community design, as they are social by way of neighbourhoods, contacts and community identity. Secondly, when it came to selecting a renewal strategy no theoretical basis could be identified, or constructed, beyond mere urban expansion to justify or underpin such an endeavour. And while the work as a gestalt subsequently provided a possible basis for increased population growth in its own right, such action need still be subservient to and subsequent of other more appropriate rural/agricultural oriented initiatives.  With its vast investment in massive and life-giving waterways, development of a more multi-functional use of Alberta's irrigation canal system first appeared as a potential win-win scenario; use of the water for  irrigation, but along the path to that primary use, using the water for secondary, non-consumptive activities: recreation by way of cable water skiing, in-canal surfing, or fishing, and constricted beaches; commercial activity through in-canal aquaculture or aquaponics, micro-hydro generation; or cultural activities and events such as festivals and periodic tourist attraction such as Edmonton's , 1980 High-Level Bridge waterfall and its successor the 2014 'Light the Bridge', LED installation. Upon review however, these initiatives were found wanting from a number of perspectives. First, such efforts only create part-time jobs which are not only limited to the tourist season, but also fail to impart transferable skills or experience. More importantly, these activities would be dependent upon the approval, good will, 	  7	  and participation of the province and/or the irrigation authorities. Consequently, any long-term rural development would be neither founded in the rural communities it is intended to serve, nor would it operate at a scale or within the regulatory environment through which individuals could initiate private actions, make on-the-spot adjustments, or reap the bulk of the benefits.    Upon analysis, new agricultural activity was considered the most viable option. It would build upon the existing industry's physical and knowledge infrastructure; its patterns and ethos would be consistent with the prevailing rural culture, landscape, and sense of place; and upon investigation, a ready and significant potential market strategy was identified in the replacement of Alberta's imported fruits and vegetables. This market initially estimated to be worth some $400 million (2018) in direct sales and up to $1 billion in induced activity, could be entered cautiously by local producers and processors and pursued more aggressively as their capabilities expand. A goal worthy of pursuit.  The only problems identified were to find the land and water through which to bring such potential to reality.  Fortunately, numerous examples in the literature confirm that vegetables and fruits can be grown successfully in intensive, commercial, market garden operations on lots as modest as 2-3 acres (1 ha). Thus, the search for land is greatly simplified as even a cursory review of most agricultural landscapes identifies many under-utilized, even abandoned, lands. This is particularly true in the irrigated lands of southern Alberta where the preference for centre-point irrigation systems leaves many unworked, triangular, corner patches where irrigated crops circles meet square field boundaries. These lots could prove to be ideal homesteads for new market gardens if water could be accessed. Again, the existing circumstances prove fortuitous, for due to increasing efficiencies in irrigation practices Alberta's farmers enjoy a 'surplus' in untapped water allocations that could be directed to these mini-farm endeavours. And, with the existing irrigation layouts, these new lots are, at most, about 1,500' or 460 m from the adjacent centre-point water source.   Finally, the underlying work of chapter five explored the matrix of potential farm income, off-farm work, and multi-functional activities both on the new farms and their surrounding 	  8	  communities finding that the prevailing social context supported, and hard production figures confirmed that a small-farm, imported vegetable replacement development activity is a viable rural renewal strategy.  While the bulk of chapter six addresses itself to the mundane and pragmatic details of small farm, vegetable growing equipment and practices, the critical core focuses on the need for, development of, and operation of 'alternative', local, food distribution networks. Noting that as described in chapter one that the 'farmers-of-the-middle' are being squeezed out of agriculture for being 'too big' to rely on direct marketing such as CSA and farm stands yet 'too small' to participate in commercial markets chapter six discusses the emergence of local food networks, value chains, and associated 'food hubs'. These two processes are seen as a co-operative strategy through which 'middle' farmers can aggregate to serve markets to which they heretofore have been denied individual access. As one author notes, such an approach offers a means to compete with larger entities through 'co-operation' rather than 'consolidation'. Through a co-operative approach, farmers retain their livelihoods, keep their family farm lifestyle and independence while rural communities retain their farmers.   Chapter six provides extensive documentation on the What?, Why?, and How? of establishing alternate distribution networks while concurrently identifying potential pitfalls and the accommodations which will be required of participating producers. Due to its current strength and vast potential benefits which could accrue to small and medium farmers from local food networks, there has been a wealth of information published on this topic, the more central of which is cited and discussed within this report while additional information sources can be found in Appendix B.   The work concludes with chapter seven which provides a detailed analysis of a fully operational imported vegetable and fruit replacement regime. The analysis includes evaluation of its potential impact on associated rural communities, achievements or misses in regard to goals across a broad spectrum of economic, social, and environmental issues. Finally, the evaluation considers whether the proposed market garden strategy could generate a sufficient increase in rural populations to trigger a revitalization of Alberta's rural society and economy. 	  9	   It doesn't.   However, within the discussion of this seeming shortfall it becomes evident that the initial goal "to introducing enough new people to trigger rural renewal activity" was itself flawed for as will be demonstrated, Alberta's rural society, and one assumes most, at least in developed nations, are too complex to be significantly moved by any such simplistic effort. Rather, rural renewal must be driven by local leaders utilizing local resources across a broad range of initiatives to address locally identified needs. What the work does demonstrate in Alberta, and suggests in other jurisdictions, is that many, if not most, rural societies are founded on strong moral values focusing on a family lifestyle which encompasses a willing workforce capable and willing to adopt multi-functionalism as a survival strategy. But these are societies that are bounded, buffeted, and sometimes broken by the presence of vertically and horizontally integrated BIG-AGRI that limits their access to markets. However, there exist both ideas such as local food networks, and technologies: the Internet and food hubs by which local producers can circumvent and successfully compete with BIG-AGRI. And, rural communities are imbued with the intelligence, energy, and social cohesiveness necessary to do so.      It is against the backdrop of these conflicting visions of rural decay and rural potential that the following work explores some of the more pragmatic issues facing agriculture and rural societies today and offers possible solutions.  the END OF AMERICAN AGRICULTURE  While there is an almost inexhaustible supply of works on rural issues, there are two: Blank (1998) and Buttel (2003) which are noteworthy for their extreme position. For Blank, agriculture has no place in America’s future; a position supported by Buttel and his list of seven ‘discontinuities’ in 21st century agriculture.  Analysis of these works at this point will prove beneficial by offering a brief overview of the claims and counter claims3 found in the 	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  3	  A	  number	  of	  the	  counterclaims	  are	  taken	  from	  an	  online	  book	  review	  by	  Neil	  E.	  Harl	  that	  can	  be	  accessed	  at:	  www.econ.iastate.edu/faculty/harl/book_review.html	  .	  (	  Jan	  /	  2018)	  	  10	  agricultural –vs.- service jobs and the rural –vs.- urban debates. In this review and analysis it must be noted that both authors are drawing on research that is now 20+ years old and that it is only through the advantage of hindsight and the impact of subsequent evolving trends that many of the counterclaims can be presented.   Depending upon one’s personal perspective of agriculture’s broad role in society, Steven Blank’s [1998] book, The End of Agriculture in the American Portfolio, is either the most dystopian or utopian view of its future. While the work is somewhat idiosyncratic, even extreme, it encompasses many concerns, which have been expressed, regarding current rural and agricultural environments in developed nations and thus merits discussion.  Blank foresees a future from which food production will disappear from the American landscape as an economic enterprise; replaced by spreading cities, amenity destinations,  and horticultural suppliers. Furthermore most, if not all, of America’s food will be imported from low-cost, warmer climes. The reasons for America's farming doom are underlain by Blank’s philosophical belief that all resources, including farmland land, should, must, be used to its maximum economic return and that in the near future almost any use ‘other than’ agriculture will provide a higher rate of return. Key non-prioritized points include:  Uncompetitive:  The US is seen as uncompetitive against major producers of commodity crops, one of which is Canada, whose vast, under-populated, prairie farmlands will out-compete, and hence eliminate their American counterparts.   It is difficult to understand how a nation with massive surplus harvest and vast export trade can be viewed as uncompetitive. Even within the foreseeable future it is difficult, if not impossible to imagine the American farmers’ competitive advantages in land, skills, and technology being quickly eroded.   Furthermore, should sustainability demands, declining oil supply, or rising fuel prices make agricultural exports undesirable then so too would be imports meaning that local food, from 	  11	  American and Canadian agricultural will be necessary to feed those nations. And, local food already enjoys market preference among those choosing their foods' sourcing.    Bad Investment:  Farming is increasingly seen as a less attractive, investment-based, use of land when compared to development and alternate non-farm uses such as recreation, tourism, and environmental services.   While it is true that land near urban centres can be utilized to secure a higher return than farming, there are vast swaths of land that do not enjoy a peri-urban siting.   Alternate Demands:  Consumers will want farmland for other purposes, such as parks.   With only 46% of their land dedicated to agriculture, Americans will find ample opportunities in the remaining 5+ million km2 to pursue alternate activities. And, given this bounty of land, Fig.1.2, that which lies beyond close proximity to major urban areas will not enjoy higher-use returns. One could be forgiven for having difficulty envisioning the Great Plains, and Prairies given over to golf courses and turf farms.  FIGURE 1.2 Iowa Farmland – Abundance in the middle of ‘nowhere’  	  12	  A cornfield in the middle of Iowa in the long run, is probably only worth 'a cornfield in the middle of Iowa'.  Hard Work:   Farming is hard work that American won’t do at the low wage scales necessary to remain competitive against low cost imported foods. But, as will be shown, for most producers, and their families, farming is a ‘way of life’ not just a means of income. Consequently, many, if not most farmers have devised a farming strategy that permits them to continue the ‘hard work’ of farming while enjoying a family-farm lifestyle.    Following a Trend:   Many advanced industrial countries: Holland, Switzerland, and Belgium have already abandoned self-reliance on food and substituted imports to meet their national needs, and the U.S. will follow suit.  Blank chooses countries which are miniscule in relation to the U.S. with areas roughly comparable to Vancouver Island, 32,000 km2 and, in the mid-1990’s had populations in the range of 16, 7, and 10 million respectively with densities in the order of 385, 172, 334 people/km2. Under these conditions, the demand for access to and the non-agricultural use of rural lands is understandable. By contrast in the 90’s the U.S. accommodated 266 million citizens on some 9.2 million  km2 at a density of just 29 people per square kilometer. These national situations are hardly comparable in either scale or national imperatives.  Subsidies:   Voters are fed up supporting seemingly rich farmers with public funds while they continue to produce subsidized surpluses. Blank adds ‘most farmers can’t exist without government subsidies’ for example, 65% of the subsidies go to 17% of the farmers while one third receive nothing. He also provides an example of subsidy abuse such as the 52 farmers in Colorado received $520,000 for not growing anything on land leased from the government under no-grow contracts;   However, logic and math indicate that if one third of all farmers receive no subsidies and fifty percent share the remaining 35% of the funds then despite Blank's assertion that farmers require subsidies, the reality is that farming is general self sustaining and raises questions as 	  13	  to why the subsidy system is so configured that it is the big farmers who receive the bulk of the payments. For his part, Blank offers no remedies; rather, he accepts this situation and fails to suggest remedies which would enable, require (?) subsidies to do what is intended, help small farmers.  Rural Flight, Rural Gentrification:  Blank states that people are fleeing the country – rural flight – leaving it depopulated and underserviced thus driving land prices down, but at the same time he argues that people are moving to the country  - rural gentrification – which drives land prices up and leads to wide-spread farm closures.  He simply can’t have it both ways.   Farm Abandonment and High Start-Up Costs   At the same time,  Blank argues that farming is such a poor business that farms are being abandoned across the nation driving land prices down; however the costs of starting a new farm are beyond the newcomers’ reach. Using California as an example He notes that: “on average, agricultural operations had 1,300 acres of land and $1.75 million in (net) assets.   As will be shown, in 2014, market garden farmers can get into commercial Canadian agriculture with anywhere from 2-5 acres of land and $40,000+/- in equipment costs.   Nobody Cares;  To quote the author:  “America no longer has a rural population and thus, most Americans could not care less if farming and ranching disappear just so long as they get their burgers and fries”  Roughly 16%+/- of Canadians and Americans live in what are classified as rural and small town areas. Given that Canada’s farm population is roughly 2% of the total, assuming the American experience is similar, this means that 14%+/- of our populations living in rural areas are not living on farms. According to Blank these 5.1 million Canadians and 49.5 million Americans don’t exist and furthermore, don’t matter.  	  14	  Blank’s theory is blank of any convincing arguments to support his vision and many of his findings can not be supported, or are in fact rebutted by the data which he provides.  Buttel (2003) expands upon Blank’s basic assertions and adds seven further drivers, which he calls ‘discontinuities’ which will flavour agriculture’s future. In fairness, the reader is reminded that Buttel’s work is based on work that is nearly 20+ years old and it is only through hindsight that criticism is possible.  Like the analysis of Blank’s work Buttel’s assertions are coupled with rebuttals for convenient consideration.   Evolving Food Chains:    For Buttel, the emerging horizontally and vertically food, ‘value’ chains will shut out small and medium producers and processors as agri-business seeks to simplify its sourcing and processing costs.  Under the drive from ‘slow food’, it is the development of ‘local’ food chains and an increase in local small-scale processing which will help to secure the viability of small agricultural entities. As Buttel notes, knowledge and skills are readily transferable and local entrepreneurs and activists have already begun to use IT from BIG-agri to serve the interests of small-agri.   Neo-Liberalization of Agriculture:   In quoting Blank, Buttel notes:. “…everything happening in the development of a global market is good for U.S. agribusiness firms and American consumers.” It is interesting to note that 'agribusiness firms' but not ‘farmers’ are referenced in Blank’s assessment. In other words, international business is destroying national farming but that is OK!. As to being ‘good’ for consumers, participants in the slow food movement would not agree; in just the two months between June 21 and August 21, 2018 the US government4 listed 24 processed food recalls.  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  4	  https://www.foodsafety.gov/recalls/recent/index.html 	  15	  Disorganized Farmers:  In 2003 farmers were seen as having little in common, save their bleak future, and it was assumed that they would be unable to organize and preserve their industry. Furthermore, as a large percentage had adopted multi-functionalism, and off-farm work, they were seen as having little in common with the ‘real’ farmers who earned their keep on the farm.  Claiming that farmers in 2003 had little in common ignores one critical fact, that they shared a way of life which they, to the best of their ability, were willing to defend. Buttel’s observation is now at odds with the current reality wherein farmers across America, and to a lesser extent across Canada, are organizing into local food hubs and value chains that provide a focus for their co-operative activities and a solution to both their isolation and falling market share.   Industrialized Livestock Production:   CAFOs are seen as the inevitable culmination of advances in livestock generation.   However, see ‘Salatin’, chapter 6, a farmer who grazes his cows in the field where the food is and where they in turn deposit manure, fertilizer, where it is required, on the grass before moving onto new feeding grounds. Intensive rotational grazing could well prove to be the way we not only need to raise livestock but it may become the manner in which consumers demand we raise livestock. It is too early to assume that CAFO's are the inevitable final step.  Evolving Technologies:  New technologies will substitute for manpower thus allowing for production to be integrated into the existing integrated seed & fertilizer supply - processing - retailing value chain.   Technology is a two sided sword, or scythe, which swings both ways and which allows smaller production units, first to compete more efficiently in their own right and secondly to more easily organize the aggregation, processing, and marketing in  competition with larger monolithic entities.  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  16	   Public Protection of Agriculture:   In a skewed argument, Buttel suggests that because the ‘public’ are taking a larger role in protecting agriculture that its fate is less assured.  It is odd to suggest that ‘consumers’ – the people who ‘eat the food’ – will be less interested in its production, quality, and safety than the farmers who ‘merely produce it’. One would anticipate that a neo-liberal such as Buttel would argue that the ‘market/consumer’ defines the product and in this case if consumers are weighing in on protecting farms, farmers, and livestock then they add voice, not confusion, to that position.   A prime (beef) example of consumer power can be found in 2012's Pink Slime controversy which started when an ABC news report identified ‘pink slime’ as an ingredient in ground beef. Although pink slime was 100% finely ground beef being used as a pure beef additive, the name – and the consumers’ reaction to it, plus the very idea of the product caused four out of five ‘slime’ factories to close by the following year. In March 2012, 70% of US ground beef contained pink slime, by March 2013 that figure was 5% - due to consumer non-demand.  And while pink slime is making a legitimate comeback, it is after all just beef, this situation gives lie to the premise that consumers’ participation will weaken agricultural protection. Consumers spoke, industry listened.  Environmental Strangulation:   Tougher environmental laws and services, being promoted by the public will strangle American agriculture which won’t be able to compete with food grown in less regulated and less safe, agricultural areas.   Throughout the course of this research farmers consistently presented themselves as stewards of the land noting in a sense that they weren’t so much farmers as soil managers. One oft-repeated quote was “We feed the land/grass and the land feeds us.”  	  17	  Evidence of this attitude can be found in the rise of no-till farming. As early as 2013 it was a sufficiently important public issue that the Washington Post5 ran an article on the subject. As seen in Fig. 1.3 from that article, no-till usage is on the rise across all commodity crops.    FIGURE 1.3  Percentage of Farmer Directed Conservation No-Till Practice  By 2012 no-tillage or a variant, conservation tillage was used on 62% of all tillable land. Farmers who saw its benefits, not the environmentalists who legitimately bemoaned soil loss, drove this change.   Furthermore, more environmental concerns result in better farming outputs or associated results. Great biodiversity by way of hedgerows and copses leads to higher pollination rates from adjacent bees and lower pest control costs due to the presence of natural predators. Tree windbreaks, discussed later, increase crop yields and lower energy costs. And, the urban consumers of local tourist and recreational amenities provide the ‘extra’ non-agricultural jobs that many farmers rely upon as part of their multi-functional farm retention strategy.   In brief, Buttel raises issues that merit consideration and which seem to favour agribusiness, but it is these types of misstated facts and misrepresented attitudes that have led in large 	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  5	  http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2013/11/09/no-­‐till-­‐farming-­‐is-­‐on-­‐the-­‐rise-­‐thats-­‐actually-­‐a-­‐big-­‐deal/?utm_term=.c676ab123658	  	  (Jan	  /	  2015)	  	  18	  measure to our misunderstanding of rural problems and society’s inappropriate response by way of ineffectual policies and mis-directed support programmes.   While Blank and Buttel offer seemingly convincing arguments for the forthcoming demise of American agriculture and presumably much of that in developed nations, the reader will appreciate that ‘on the ground’ agricultural and rural issues are both more complex and nuanced. Some of the more pertinent issues are explored in the remainder of this chapter.   As is noted elsewhere, this work focuses on the physical and functional aspects of agriculture and rural development leaving social and economic issues to those more learned in their mysteries; although, their critical, if not primary roles are readily acknowledged. I argue that upon closer inspection, and given the changes arising from the passage of twenty years, that the very issues raised by Blank and Buttel can now be interpreted as the very reasons why American and Canadian agriculture will not only continue but possibly flourish.   "HOLLOWING OF THE MIDDLE"  In an interesting melding of overarching vision and detailed discussion Kirschenmann's (2008)6 white paper “ Why Worry About the Agriculture of the Middle?” raises serious questions about the fate of the ‘average’ farmer and their rural communities. This seemingly modest 21 page paper provides a compelling review of: (i) Who are these average farmers, the agriculturalist of the middle?, (ii) What is causing their plight?, (iii) How can the middle’ be saved?, and (iv) Why it is important to do so?   As shown in Fig. 1.4, the number of farms of the middle in Iowa between 1987 and 1997 shrank while those at the ends of the spectrum grew. The paper includes 10 similar examples for North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Missouri and Mississippi, and even more depressing data on Washing and California. Figure 1.5 offers similar data for the Canadian farm scene from 1987 to 1997. We are losing the middle.  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  6	  The	  website	  www.agofthemiddle.org	  (Dec	  /	  2017)provides	  valuable	  further	  information	  on	  this	  topic	  and	  case	  studies	  which	  may	  be	  of	  interest	  to	  those	  exploring	  similar	  topics.	  	  	  19	    FIGURE 1.4 Hollowing of the ‘Middle Farms’  - % Change Iowa 1987 -1997    FIGURE 1.5 Hollowing of the ‘Middle’ in Canadian Farms  The ‘average farmer’ or the ‘farmer-of-the-middle’, henceforth used interchangeably, enjoy farm sales between $220,000 - $550,000 ($CAD2018) and are not merely mid-sized farms but include farming corporations, and large family farms with sales within that range.  Significantly, they are a critical component of the American farming community and in 2000 constituted 90% (2000) of all farms, controlled most of the farmland, and most importantly 	  20	  supplied 35%+/- of all U.S. food. Furthermore, it is these farms that produce the greatest variety of crops and livestock as the 65% of ‘other’ farms are producing single commodity crops under contract to agribusiness firms and conglomerates.   In a generalization of their problems the authors note that “… they are too small to compete in the highly consolidated commodities markets, and too large to sell (all of their produce) in the direct markets.” While direct marketing such as CSAs and farmers’ markets are gaining market share as P. Martin the Director of Slow Food U.S.A. put it,   “… Community supported agricultural programs, wonderful as they are, can’t by themselves save American agriculture.”  Beyond food, small or middle farms and farmers are seen as providing, or embodying, other benefits which are important to their local communities. These farms and farm families not only support their local social and economic communities but they are seen, and act, as protectors of the environment with most working towards a sustainable future and caring for their livestock in a humane manner. Further, their 35% contribution provides food security and a degree of general food sovereignty in an otherwise perilous and globalized food environment. 4.33 billion bushels of soybeans (2017 US harvest estimate) are of little comfort to people craving a balanced diet.   Conversely, corporate agriculture is not seen as stewards of the land for as the authors note, being driven by three business imperatives: controlled supply chain, maximized bio-manufacturing, and reduced transaction costs – which are achieved by reducing the number of food suppliers, corporations do not make good neighbours and do not make good communities. That mentality was expressed 20 years ago when an official from the US Office of Budgets and Management asked a meeting of the National Academy of Science Board on Agriculture,   “If two or three farmers can produce all the food and fibre   we need, who cares? In fact, if robots can do it who cares?” 	  21	   At the time of writing (2000), some in Iowa were suggesting that the farms of the future would be 225,000 ac (91,000 ha) agri-industrial complexes, or to phrase that differently, Iowa would have just 140 ‘farms’. Farms that we might logically suspect, wouldn't buy their supplies and equipment from the local dealer nor deliver their produce to the local granary or processor. Additionally, based on the industry’s past behavior, such mega-farms would also result in the loss of:  • wildlife habitat & bio-diversity: (Why plow around a natural, wooded obstruction when one can fill a slough or level a hillock to plough over them?)  • clean air and water: (Agri-industry, particularly large-scale feedlot operations, CAFOs, are not noted for their high environmental standards.)  • rural aesthetics:  (Rustic barns, hedgerows, and enticing treed country roads will find no role in mega-farm operations.)  • food sovereignty: (Agri-business grows corn and soybeans, farmers grow tomatoes, carrots, and free-range chickens.)  Agri-business and mono cropping portend other less than desirable changes. Much like the standardization in tomatoes discussed below, agri-operations will focus almost exclusively on those few varieties of plants and livestock that offer the maximum efficiency in production, ease of transportation, and adherence to a preconceived consumer standard. Today’s turkeys are all descendants of just three breeding flocks and were these to be struck with a disease of a scale similar to the white nose fungus now decimating the world’s bats, then Thanksgiving may take on a new meaning, and culinary tradition. This is not idle speculation, for example, the world is running out of bananas.   Despite there being 1000 varieties of bananas, 45% of those gr