We are in process of building a monkey-proofed area of the garden. You can see my past post to get a feel for the evolution of this idea. The main issue with providing the Cardamom County restaurant with food from the on-site organic farm is monkeys. We were inspired by these subsistence farmers in Ixopo, South Africa, who blogged about building their monkey-proof vegetable cage. They, too, are neighbors with a nature reserve, so their situation is quite similar to Cardamom County! Now, we are on our way to having a truly farm-to-table menu!
You may be wondering, why is there all this buzz these days about farm-to-table? There is more to it than just fresh, delicious food.
Obviously, a lot of nature gets destroyed for agricultural purposes. In the United States, so much land gets wasted on sprawling, inefficient development. In the in-between spaces, you could feed a nation. But we eat up our open, natural spaces for agriculture. Our agriculture is rarely local so it leads to problems of unnecessary carbon emissions from transport and a lot of not-fresh food in grocery stores. When we can use the land we have already developed on to provide the people there with food, why spread ourselves out so thin into nature?
Therefore, on-site food production is a way of having a more sustainable development from the beginning because we are not perpetuating the destruction of raw, open spaces. This is what inspired my love for efficient agriculture techniques, not necessarily because I love cultivating land. Actually, it’s more the opposite. I would rather not dominate the natural ecosystem and just participate in the existing one. That would look more prehistoric though, and in order to feed the growing population, being hunters and gatherers isn’t really plausible. Working with the era we’re in, I farm.
All of this to say: I am pleased that my job as an intern right now is to learn to quantitatively justify the construction of our monkey-proofed vegetable cage. I can talk about this qualitatively, based on the values present. However, in order to prove that the price of construction is worth it, I need to put it in terms of money, not values. To do this, I am averaging how much money Cardamom County has spent in the past during peak season on vegetables we can’t grow due to monkeys.
Hopefully we can prove to people that financially it makes sense to invest in on-site food production, as well as morally makes sense to be good stewards of the land.