Local Productivity

2017-03-26 16.28.38

A viable community, like a viable farm, protects its own production capacities. It does not import products that it cannot produce for itself. And it does not export local products until local needs have been met. Wendell Berry

I think there is a danger if local amenities depend entirely for their profitability  on visitors and an even greater danger if big businesses are only in the City (I am talking about Gloucester here) to extract profit. A similar issue is one of local productivity.

To what extent are we dependent here in Gloucester on imports; not imports from abroad but from London or Birmingham or Bristol? Do we produce any food, clean water, electricity, building materials, furniture or clothing within the city boundary? Some, perhaps. There are allotments and vegetable gardens, occasional windmills and an assortment of solar panels; some folk collect rainwater and others (very few, I suspect) make their own clothes and build their own furniture, though nobody spins or weaves or makes bricks.

We are now so far down the track of dependence that the whole subject hardly seems worth discussing. Of course we don’t live like that! Is Gloucester some sort of desert island on which we have suddenly been marooned? Yes, but that’s just the point. The modern city is part of a vast complex machine which provides us with everything that we need. But what if the machine stops? What if there were no electricity? What if we were cut off from our food suppliers? Is it not time that we made a move in the direction of becoming more self-sufficient? Full self-sufficiency is admittedly not something that we can easily achieve in this complicated world, but we can make a start.

This is not just a matter of survival. I believe we would be much happier and healthier if we grew our own food, built our own outhouses, brewed our own cider, made our own clothes, entertained ourselves more, walked more and lived more.