In contemporary Russia 66% of the country’s households (35 million families) produce over 50% of Russia’s total agricultural output. This is typically done on small allotments known as a dacha. Urban families flee to their dachas on weekends and in summer. On these small plots they use a kind of permaculture technique growing annuals and perennials, fruits and vegetables. The word dachnik is used interchangeably with gardener.
This is often referred to as the ‘dacha movement’ but the gardening tradition in Russia goes back 1000 years.
“Russia’s household agriculture — possibly the most extensive in any industrially developed nation — suggests that in developed countries highly decentralized, small-scale food production is possible on a national scale. This practice therefore warrants close attention, since the degree of self-sufficiency in a number of food staples attained by Russian house- holds points to the reemergence of a distinct, highly localized food regime, on a nation- scale level.”
As the United States moves into a transition period away from cheap oil we have a lot to learn from other countries such as Cuba and Russia. Clearly, it is possible to raise much of our food in our yards.
My internet addiction led me this week to a Ph’d thesis by a Russian academic titled THE SOCIOECONOMIC AND CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE OF FOOD GARDENING IN THE VLADIMIR REGION OF RUSSIA by Leonid Sharashkin
The cultural differences in gardening in the US vs Russia are dramatic because of the thousand year tradition of gardening there. Mr. Sharashkin points out that in the US during times of war or economic stress home gardens flourish in the US. But in normal times statistics like the following apply:
“Russia has 18.8 million acres of family gardens, which produce US$14 billion worth of products per year, equivalent to over 50% of Russia’s agricultural output, or 2.3% of the country’s GDP (Rosstat 2007b). The United States, on the other hand, have 27.6 million acres of lawn, which produce a US$30 billion per year lawn care industry (Bormann, Balmori, and Geballe 2001).
In the Vladimir region of Russia, gardeners spend, on average, 17 hrs per week (during the growing season) tending their gardens. Surveys from other regions (Clarke et al. 1999) offer similar results. By comparison, Americans, on average, spend 32 hrs per week watching television (Nielsen Media Group 2006).”
Appalling when you stop to think about it.
There’s much to digest in Mr. Sharashkin’s theis and I will continue to wade through it.