Sustainable agriculture is a way of raising food that is healthy for consumers and animals, does not harm the environment, is humane for workers, respects animals, provides a fair wage to the farmer, and supports and enhances rural communities. Sustainable agriculture or alternative agriculture is an approach to agriculture that "deliberately integrates and takes advantage of naturally occurring beneficial interactions."
Sustainable agriculture is not a singular approach to production agriculture, but rather a range of practices--a system-- including:
- integrated pest management,
- organic farming,
- crop rotations,
- crop selection,
- planting practices that reduce soil erosion.
Sustainable agricultural practices are also applied to the production of livestock.
The term sustainability refers to economic development that takes full account of the environmental consequences of economic activity and is based on the use of resources that can be replaced or renewed and therefore are not depleted.
(Source: Michael Allaby, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Ecology [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994], 376.)
In 1999, Americans spent $618 billion for foods originating from the U.S. farms. Of that only 20 percent was paid to farmers, the rest covered expenses for transportation, processing and distribution.
Source: Farm Service Agency. www.fsa.usda.gov
There are many websites that explain and suggest techniques of sustainable agriculture or farming.
One company that I would like to reference is Growing Power, Inc. heading by the CEO Will Allen of Milwaukee, WI. This organization with the leadership of Mr. Allen is sustainable agriculture. He has implemented many of these techniques which is feeding the North side of Milwaukee and teaching worldwide these techniques for anyone to re-create anywhere.
Check it out:
Filmmaker Bonnie Bucqueroux and her dog Schmoopsie look at the sustainable agriculture movement, including a visit to Michigan State University's Student Organic Farm, where Dr. John Biernbaum discusses the options people have to grow their own food or to buy from local growers.
Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqNBeSp1MRw