Why Flat Earth Farm?

That we may work in righteousness, and lay the Foundation of making the Earth a Common Treasury for All, both Rich and Poor, That every one that is born in the Land, may be fed by the Earth his Mother that brought him forth…
~ The True Levellers Standard Advanced (1649)

Flat Earth Farm, in the south end of rural Ottawa

Seems kind of strange to be lifting a passage from a 369-year-old manifesto to explain where we’re coming from, but honestly, there are days at Flat Earth Farm when wee longe for thymse gonne bye. And while we clearly aren’t anarchists in the mould of the True Levellers (or Diggers), our ethical motivation holds truer to the notions of levelling and commons than it does to the various forms of enclosure that have made our food systems increasingly less fair, less healthy and less sustainable over the last four centuries.

… And thus in love we have declared the purpose of our hearts plainly, without flatterie, expecting love, and the same sincerity from you, without grumbling or quarreling … intending no other matter herein, but to observe the Law of righteous action…

~ from Land and Freedom (1649), authored by Gerrard Winstanley

And we’re not the only ones noticing that the new enclosures rely on a philosophy that removes the humanity—and the humans—from our food and farming systems. We think that a flat earth philosophy—or at least a philosophy that asks us to live as if the earth was flat—would help us to grow as human beings, as communities, and as responsible citizens.

Family farms are declining in numbers, commercial farms are becoming larger and increasingly corporate, entry into the industry is becoming increasingly difficult and the average age of farmers is worryingly high. All these trends need to be combatted by policies that promote a sustainable, human-scale farming industry, accessible to a wider section of the population, providing more employment for people who like outdoor, physical work, and supporting a more varied and flourishing rural economy. National planning policy and local development plans should recognize the value and potential viability of small-scale farms employing agro-ecological methods and promote them through supportive policies.

~ from Equality in the Country: A Rural Manifesto (2016)

Flat Earth Farm VisionTo produce sustenance in a manner that integrates and balances the tranquility and bounty of nature with the ingenuity, compassion and integrity of the citizen-farmer, in a sustainable farming system—that is, harmonious, beneficent, technologically advanced, non-violent, scale-appropriate and holistic.


Biodiversical Practicality*  The farm produces a diverse array of fresh vegetables, fruit, eggs and meat, as well as seeds, seedlings and lightly processed food. Vegetables are grown using intensive production practices on plots in constant rotation, balanced with cover crops, field crops, pasture and compost fertilizers. Dual-purpose chickens (eggs/meat) add their delicate and subtle notes to the terroir of the farm. However, the main creative force on the farm is our flock of sheep.

Collaboratious Resourcefulness*  Flat Earth Farm is built on a collaborative approach, involving the farmers in a small-scale, multifunctional, diversified production system with multiple efficiencies—and at the same time demonstrating the potential of the most effective peri-urban food provisioning practices to other producers, and to the broader community. Our agroecological model relies on farmer collaboration, sharing and barter to minimize costs—including tools, labour, planning, marketing and management, where appropriate. This ethic of collaboration has also informed our on-farm research. Collaboratious Resourcefulness* also encourages the farmers and the broader community to make use of under-utilised resources, through:

  • community recycling (e.g. building materials)
  • community composting (e.g. food waste, sawdust)
  • rain collection and recycling of wash-water

Agroecological Experimentaciousness*  Flat Earth Farm is a place with suitable space for inter-disciplinary, collaborative, farmer-led research, inquiry, and policy discussion that engages and responds to the needs of agroecological farmers and the community.

*see Encyclopaedia Frivolus Agricola (to be issued by the permaculture publisher Permanent Press, next year)