The Agave Vanguard
THE AGAVE VANGUARD & AGROECOLOGY
Here's a little bit about what we're striving to achieve here at Hacienda Dominguez & Chelenzo Farms. Not only are we part of The Agave Vanguard, evangelizing the planting of agave, cacti, aloe vera, desert spoon and other succulents in the Southwest, for fiber, food, drink and medicinal purposes, but we are also a start-up research farm employing "Agroecology" to achieve this.
Click the article below to learn more.
From traditional practice to top climate solution, agroecology gets growing attention (published by mongabay.com on April 13, 2022)
Defined in the report as a “holistic approach” to farming, agroecology as a practice includes techniques such as intercropping and planting cover crops, integrating livestock and trees into landscapes, and deploying organic farming methods to enhance biodiversity and soil health while eliminating dependence on external inputs like pesticides and synthetic fertilizer. It’s a nature-based solution that can “contribute to both climate mitigation and adaptation,” the IPCC stresses. It’s also a solution grounded in an embrace of the human rights of Indigenous and small-scale producers, as articulated in the 13 principles of agroecology from the United Nation’s High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition.
Indio Hatuey Experimental Station, founded in Cuba in 1962, uses an interdisciplinary approach based on the principles of agroecology. Photo courtesy of Anaray Lorenzo/Greenpeace.
Indio Hatuey Experimental Station in Cuba uses an interdisciplinary approach based on the principles of agroecology. Photo courtesy of Anaray Lorenzo/Greenpeace.
A science, a practice, and a movement
While its principles trace back millennia, agroecology’s roots in academia originate in the 1920s and 1930s as agronomists increasingly looked at how farming and ecosystems could be integrated. The term itself dates to Mexico in the late 1970s: It was there that a group of researchers were beginning to raise the alarm about a suite of relatively new agricultural practices being promoted there and in other key regions of the world. Dubbed the “Green Revolution” and underwritten initially by the Rockefeller Foundation, the approach centered on high-yielding hybrid seeds, whose vigor was only possible with annual seed purchases and massive investments in irrigation systems along with heavy use of fossil fuel-based fertilizers, herbicides, and other pesticides.
As Liz Carlisle, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, describes in Healing Grounds: Climate, Justice, and the Deep Roots of Regenerative Farming, Mexican scientist Efraím Hernández Xolocotzi, Mexican plant pathologist Roberto García Espinosa, and Californian ecologist Steve Gliessman were documenting how agricultural practices long embraced by Indigenous Mayan farmers in Mesoamerica were producing high yields without the financial and ecological costs of Green Revolution methods. As they spent time in the field, the colleagues “came to believe that these farmers’ approaches were far more effective than the ones being promoted by their own institution,” Carlisle writes. They decided to develop a new academic program, one that would put these farmers’ voices “front and center.”
It was the summer of 1978 when they launched a master’s degree program at the Colegio Superior de Agricultura Tropical. The focus? What they called “agroecology.” From the beginning, they grounded the concept in wisdom from Indigenous communities and in the voices of farmers themselves. Echoes of this work reverberate in the IPCC report today, whose authors stress agroecology’s roots in Indigenous and local knowledge around the world.
Agroecology proponents are quick to underscore that the concept refers not simply to these agricultural practices and the academic field that has blossomed around them, but as Maywa Montenegro, an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, told Mongabay, “The field of agroecology includes the academy, but very importantly is not limited to it. Agroecology is a science, practice, and a movement.”