As the term itself suggests, agroecology is the science of applying ecological concepts and principles to the practice of agriculture. It asks a basic question that has a number of complicated answers: how can we produce food while living in harmony with God’s creation?
The core principles of this science include:
- conserving and using resources, such as manure, on the farm rather than bringing them in from other places;
- generating and conserving energy on the farm;
- rotating crops and livestock, thereby lessening reliance on fertilizer, pesticide, and fossil fuels;
- practicing agroforestry where plants, shrubs, and trees are used to increase productivity;
- diversifying genetic resources by cultivating multiple plant and animal varieties and by saving seeds.
At its foundation, agroecology is about listening to the small farmer. Learn more about the struggle of the small farmer.
Agroecology and the PC(USA)
The Presbyterian Hunger Program has been engaging in agroecological work in Haiti with The Road to Life Yard and Moringa Project since 2004. With a small group of local farmers, technicians and agronomists from the Mouvman Peyizan Papaye (MPP), Mark Hare, a mission co-worker in Haiti, has been helping to develop a program that focuses on integrated,diversified agricultural production, including moringa, vegetable tires, rainwater collection and fruit production, in the yards of rural homes, which permits families to provide for their own needs and beyond.
Additionally, agroecology is at the heart of the The West Africa Initiative, a program initiated and supported by the three PC(USA) One Great Hour of Sharing programs (Presbyterian Hunger Program, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and Self-Development of People). The WAI was later joined by the United Methodist Committee on Relief, the United Church of Christ and Christian Church-Disciples of Christ, making this a truly ecumenical effort. The WAI program began in 2008 to assist rural communities in Liberia and Sierra Leone recover from a decade long civil war in both countries, which resulted in destruction of the physical infrastructure and massive population displacement. In both countries, 33 farmers groups are currently participating in the program, with a total membership of some 1700 farmers and 7500 persons directly benefiting. At the same time 15 community facilitators have been trained and deployed.
Agroecology as Resistance by Berenger Frehaut and Seema Rupani, Surplus People Project, PHP Post
Agroecology and You by Andrew Kang Bartlett, PHP, Presbyterians Today
Small-scale Sustainable Solutions to Global Hunger by Christine Campeau, Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, PHP Post