I was struck (again) this morning by a note a client sent to be relating to the cost of developing a site following a design we’d completed together. These clients have a broadacre holding that is in conversion from annual cereals to perennial grassland, tree crop woodland (aka ‘Savannah’), shelter and riparian plantings etc. In other words the usual ‘suite’ of things one might look to do on such a site — with a client who’s asking for it!
What struck me this morning was not so much the conversation, but how it reminded me of a slide I used to have in my presentations nearly 15 years ago from the British author and academic, Jules Pretty and a paper he and his colleagues had published in the Journal of Environmental Planning and Management in 2001 titled, “Policy Challenges and Priorities for Internalising the Externalities of Modern Agriculture”
How remarkable just are the differences between the true costs of continuing the path of conventional, orthodox agricultural practice and the cost of transitioning over to a more sustainable and ultimately regenerative agroecology?
If Jules Pretty and his colleagues are even close to being right then we have a considerable debt to pay to the ‘bank’ of natural capital that has been drawn down on over that time – however the challenge remains how do today’s generation pay to restore some of this capital and what is a minimum investment required to do just that.