I read this morning in treehugger.com that the Dervaes Institute decided to trademark the rather common phrase "urban homesteading". This has naturally raised a few eyebrows as well as a few fists from urban homesteaders around the country. For example, (screen name) CdiWadkar said,
There are more eloquent reactions available, but none of them really spoke to me like this one. I think this raises a pretty important question that has been looming on the horizon for a few years. Especially for those gardeners who ally themselves with larger political movements, like low impact living, sustainable living, back-to-the-land-movements, and those who wish to separate themselves from the questionable practices of agribusiness, the question should be considered:
Can you simultaneously be an alternative agriculturalist and a businessman without turning into an agribusiness-man TM (that one's mine)?
Well, obviously there aren't a whole lot of pro-bono farmers out there, nor should their be. We all gots to get paid by our trade, right? Legal and governmental systems have been naturalizing this bottom line for thousands of years. Take, for example, feudalism, Yeomen, and cash-grain farming. There were, of course, always ways to work against these systems. Take, for example, centralized power and The Homestead Act. Central to these systems, however, is access to land, and its profitability and ownership. Good land was the key to being fat, wealthy, and upwardly mobile. With good land, one was able to provide food for themselves and for the marketplace. Furthermore, the granting of good land afforded one fealty, while the owning of good land afforded one certain freedoms.
Currently, those of us without much land, or even good land, have found ways to cope and grow food for ourselves. Raised beds, hydroponics, container gardening, community gardens, and living walls are all ingenious ways to grow food in a way that subverts traditional farming techniques, placing a premium, not on land, but on ingenuity. There are a million books, magazines, and youtube videos with how-to urban gardening techniques and projects. There is definitely a market for these diy endeavors, but what will be the consequences of selling subsistence advice? Will urban gardening be something only a few can afford to do or might it become synonymous with a certain income bracket or middle class value that alienates other populations? What are the ramifications of patenting and copy writing traditional knowledge as if it is something novel, not based on years of sharing information and trial and error? They are questions worth pondering.