Ancient Agriculture

Ancient Agriculture - Roots and Application of Sustainable Farming

If you think you see a theme starting to develop here, you’re right. I’ll say it again with feeling: THERE IS A WEALTH OF HISTORICAL FARMING KNOWLEDGE AVAILABLE FOR MODERN SUSTAINABLE FARMERS TO USE!

My latest find, Ancient Agriculture — Roots and Application of Sustainable Farming By Gabriel Alonso De Herrera, Illustrated by Bryan Romero, Compiled by Juan Estevan Arellano (Ancient City Press, Salt Lake City 2006) is an excellent example of useful information from past farmers informing the present and creating a sustainable future.

This excellent publication from the “Father of Modern Spanish Agriculture” discusses functional methods for achieving optimal farming results, based on types and location of soils, using easy to understand considerations. The original, “Obra de Agricultura‘, was published by Gabriel Alonso de Herrera in 1513. This compilation by Juan Estevan Arellano is the first English translation of the book that carried traditional farming techniques from the Europe to the Americas. Revised several times based on increased experience, Ancient Agriculture provides “Old-world techniques for new-world gardeners and farmers who are striving for agricultural sustainability.”

Topics include everything from traditional Moorish farming techniques used in Spain and North Africa to water conservation and irrigation techniques including the use of acequias, sangras, and arroyos. Written over 500 years ago, the content is still fresh and vibrant, with key practical insights for today’s sustainable farmers and special significance for our increasingly arid world. Many of de Herrera’s practices were successfully integrated into Indo-Hispanic farming in the southwestern United States, where drought conditions call for water conservation – and they are still relevant today.

Climate change has made the “treasure trove of the past a seedbed for a whole new generation of farmers and gardeners striving for agricultural sustainability.” With an emphasis on working the land in harmony with nature and producing more food through soil improvement and water management, this book is a gem and worth a read!


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