Resilient Smallholding is an approach to smallholding that focuses upon – indeed is driven by – concerns about resilience. What does this mean? Well, the concept of resilience concerns the capacity to bounce-back and recover after set-backs or disasters – it can refer to people who possess this characteristic, for instance, or to systems in general. It involves a robustness that enables people and organisations to not just survive, but to thrive, despite adversity.
A Resilient Smallholding, then, is a smallholding that is designed and managed in such a way that it can rebound from setbacks including: adverse weather, market and financial system problems, oil/fuel/resource-shocks, and a host of other problems. In practical terms this means addressing questions such as:
- which livestock are more suitable for a resilient smallholding – and how are they best managed?
- which crops should I grow? (e.g., fodder crops for livestock as well as food crops for people; perennials as well as annuals)
- what particular varieties of crops are more resilient?
- which crops would be more useful in a crisis?
- how should these crops be grown to cope with too much or too little water – and other weather extremes?
- how do I best manage fertility on my smallholding?
- what if the fuel pumps run dry?
- how would I deal with getting supplies in and dealing with produce in a financial crisis?
My smallholding has been developed along permaculture lines, and I am now consciously designing-in resilience to the land and operations. My approach to smallholding resilience includes use of:
- the Resilience Building Cycle for Smallholders (equally applicable to other land-based projects);
- a model of the smallholding that sets out elements/components, inputs and outputs;
- SOPRES – Scale of Permanence for Resilient Smallholdings – a tool that can be used for prioritising works or as an analytical tool;
- a permaculture perspective and associated tools.