Without the need for much capital or specialist knowledge everyone can grow food, create gardens, forage ingredients and make saleable food and drinks for a culture of abundance.
A working model?
Our inspiration for taking this approach is the success and innovation evident in both Community Supported Agriculture and the commons-based peer production movement that has created much of the valuable content of our internet. The motivation is a response to our global agricultural crisis which threatens the continuation of life. When all costs are counted here, only small-scale and networked farming systems, that cycle nutrients responsibly and make the best use of water and sunlight per-acre can feed the world. These are are the kind of systems represented by food forests.
The economic premise for Old Tree production is that when food is grown, harvested and supplied locally; when it comes from living soil instead of synthetically fertilised soil, when it can escape extensive shipping, pasteurisation or refrigeration in the supply chain, essentially, when food and drink is de-industrialised it becomes healthier and more vital and therefore gains value (if marketed well) that can help to balance the invariably higher labour lost for small-batch productions. Nutrient density and higher quality of organic and garden scale is apparent but needs more proving. Less measurably there is added cultural value and social value as well as increased food (seed) security and health benefits. All these benefits increase the more hands there are in agriculture and productive gardening.
In our field of botanical fermented drink production, the question of viability for a networked and local resource-based system of production, is one of scale. Ecologically and socially – we know from experience that small-batch productions create more desirable workplaces than industrial-scale environments. Many hands make light work and work aligned with nature creates health. The challenge for us is to make small pay. We all need money for nutrition and health now. The question we are interested in is – is it possible to create decent work and livelihoods in our modern economy without huge capital and industrial scale machines? We believe it is by reclaiming parts of our food and drink system – our physical environment and market places from the enclosures of our current mode of production.
"Whenever something is wrong, something is too big." – Leopold Kohr
Whether its the habitat loss or the food waste, the acidification of our oceans, the terrifying rates of deforestation or global soil loss– we need an alternative food system to the one that currently feeds us. The alternative system is well documented and is called Agro-ecology. It is not as (immediately) profitable as intensive mono-agriculture and it has not yet attracted the investment it needs to take off on an adequate scale. Both a science and a set of practices, agro-ecology combines ecology and agronomy to create site-specific food systems that have the potential to provide for human needs indefinitely in this climate. Agro-ecology is a movement seeking a new way of considering agriculture and its relationships with society. As most people today live in cities, we use the term 'edible landscapes' to describe and encourage the movement for agro-ecology in small areas that people live and work in today.
"Hope remains, only in the most difficult task of all: to reconsider everything from the ground up, so as to shape a living society inside a dying one."
– Albert Camus
Edible landscaping and fermentation can help us revive lost culture and preserve both cultural and genetic heritage derived from plants.
"There are over 20,000 species of edible plants in the world, yet fewer than 20 species now provide 90% of our food."
– Ken Fern, Plants For a Future
Larger than home brewing size, smaller than a microbrewery – Old Tree brewing utilises only human-scale equipment, but makes the most of what the human scale can do. Theres a saying in brewing beer that "it takes a day to make 5 litres of beer or a day to make 5,000"... Why would you ever only make 5 litres of beer then!? The answer is because it very cheap to do so – the ingredients for 5 litres of beer could be very easily foraged and the Barley malt could even be hand-harvested without prohibitive toil... Making 5000 litres of Beer on the other hand would be expensive to purchase the quantities for and require huge capital infrastructure (for large containers and pumps) to produce followed by heavy equipment and more fuel expense to supply. Its only because time is so expensive now that smaller scale production can't compete on the price and the economics favour the huge. We are interested in the middle way or what we like to call
The path of least resistance..
Like the path a river takes, there is a way of brewing and gardening that makes the best use of energy in various environments. Neither excessive, nor insufficient the middle way can be found.
"Many small people, in small places, doing small things can change the world"
- Eduardo Galeano 1940-2015
With more people & understanding and less use of material & exploitative forms of energy there is are waysof meeting the needs of of humanity that build social, ecological and economic resilience instead of depleting it.
In agro-ecological systems, yield is theoretically unlimited.
Edible landscapes can be grown anywhere people live and thrive on the organic wastes that people currently make no use of. Brewing and fermenting adds value to the raw ingredients that can be grown in gardens and the revenue from successful goods production and supply can be used to fund the development of the productive gardens, composting, seed saving etc. to create a new food system that has the benefits of closed loop-fertility and genetic seed diversity.
Build Soil, Grow Communities.
"Why are trees social beings? Why do they share food with their own species and sometimes even go so far as to nourish their competitors? The reasons are the same as for human communities: there are advantages to working together. A tree is not a forest. On its own, a tree cannot establish a consistent local climate. It is at the mercy of wind and weather. But together, many trees create an ecosystem that moderates extremes of heat and cold, stores a great deal of water, and generates a great deal of humidity. And in this protected environment, trees can live to be very old. To get to this point, the community must remain intact no matter what."
– Peter Wollehben
The logos below contain more information about our motivations as a regenerative enterprise.. To be be a brewery that contributes to earth (soil, land, community and water) regeneration.
Here are the 14 world- processes that we are actively working towards:
Click on the symbols below to read more about our model for growing Old Tree –