Agriculture has been around since Adam & Eve first tended the Garden. All those who live and work on a farm know this legacy, both personally and intuitively. Farmers are the foundation of my family. My father’s grandparents emigrated from northern Germany and settled in the northern part of the United States, continuing a long family tradition of dairy, poultry and arable crops.
But I’ve learned this perspective is pretty limited, as I discovered the rich history of many different farming ecosystems identified by the “Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems” an initiative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Worldwide, specific agricultural systems and landscapes have been created, shaped and maintained by generations of farmers and herders based on diverse natural resources, using locally adapted management practices. Building on local knowledge and experience, these ingenious agri-cultural systems reflect the evolution of humankind, the diversity of its knowledge, and its profound relationship with nature. These systems have resulted not only in outstanding landscapes, maintenance and adaptation of globally significant agricultural biodiversity, indigenous knowledge systems and resilient ecosystems, but, above all, in the sustained provision of multiple goods and services, food and livelihood security and quality of life.
In order to safeguard and support world’s agri-cultural heritage systems in 2002 FAO started an initiative for the conservation and adaptive management of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS). The initiative aims to establish the basis for international recognition, dynamic conservation and adaptive management of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) and their agricultural biodiversity, knowledge systems, food and livelihood security and cultures throughout the world.” Source: GIAHS
GIAHS has identified pilot systems for the initiative in Peru, Chile, the Philippines, Algeria, China, Kenya and Tanzania which represent traditional agricultural systems with diverse agrobiodiversity, associated biodiversity and landscapes, knowledge systems and cultural practices. Many other systems have been identified and are being studied in Europe, Asia and Mesoamerica.
Though your agricultural heritage may not be thousands of years old, your family does have a legacy. What is your family’s farm history?