Russia’s small-scale organic agriculture model may hold the key to feeding the world

Tony Gosling tony at
Tue Jul 15 23:23:05 BST 2014

Russia’s small-scale organic agriculture model 
may hold the key to feeding the world

Imagine living in a country where having the 
freedom to cultivate your own land, tax-free and 
without government interference, is not only 
common but also encouraged for the purpose of 
promoting individual sovereignty and strong, healthy communities.

Now imagine that in this same country, nearly all 
of your neighbors also cultivate their own land 
as part of a vast network of decentralized, 
self-sustaining, independent “eco-villages” that 
produce more than enough food to feed the entire country.

You might be thinking this sounds like some kind 
of utopian interpretation of historical America, 
but the country actually being described here is modern-day Russia.

It turns out that Russia’s current agricultural 
model is one that thrives as a result of the 
millions of small-scale, family-owned and 
-operated, organically-cultivated farms that 
together produce the vast majority of the food consumed throughout the country.


Do Russians have more food freedom & independence than Americans?

A far cry from the unsustainable, 
chemical-dependent, industrialized agriculture 
system that dominates the American landscape 
today, Russia’s agricultural system, which is not 
technically a system at all, is run by the people 
and for the people. Thanks to government policies 
there that actually encourage autonomous family 
farming, rather than cater to the greed of 
chemical and biotechnology companies like they do 
here in the states, the vast majority of Russians 
are able and willing to grow their own 
on privately-owned family plots known as “dachas.”

According to The Bovine, Russia’s Private Garden 
Plot Act, which was signed into law back in 2003, 
entitles every Russian citizen to a private plot 
of land, free of charge, ranging in size from 2.2 
acres to 6.8 acres. Each plot can be used for 
growing food, or for simply vacationing or 
relaxing, and the government has agreed not to 
tax this land. And the result of this effort has 
been phenomenal, as Russian families collectively 
grow practically all the food they need.

“Essentially, what Russian gardeners do is 
demonstrate that gardeners can feed the world ­ 
and you do not need any GMOs, industrial farms, 
or any other technological gimmicks to guarantee 
everybody’s got enough food to eat,” writes 
Leonid Sharashkin, editor of the English version 
of the The Ringing Cedars series, a book 
collection that explains the history behind this 
effort to reconnect people with the earth and 

Most food in Russia comes from backyard gardens

Back in 1999, it was estimated that 35 million 
small family plots throughout Russia, operated by 
105 million people, or 71 percent of the Russian 
population, were producing about 50 percent of 
the nation’s milk supply, 60 percent of its meat 
supply, 87 percent of its berry and fruit supply, 
77 percent of its vegetable supply, and an 
astounding 92 percent of its potato supply. The 
average Russian citizen, in other words, is fully 
empowered under this model to grow his own food, 
and meet the needs of his family and local community.

“Bear in mind that 
only has 110 days of growing season per year ­ so 
in the U.S., for example, gardeners’ output could 
be substantially greater. Today; however, the 
area taken up by lawns in the U.S. is two times 
greater than that of Russia’s gardens ­ and it 
produces nothing but a multi-billion-dollar lawn care industry.”

The backyard gardening model is so effective 
throughout Russia that total output represents 
more than 50 percent of the nation’s entire 
agricultural output. Based on 2004 figures, the 
collective value of all the backyard produce 
grown in Russia is $14 billion, or 2.3 percent of 
Russia’s gross domestic product (GDP) – and this 
number only continues to increase as more and 
more Russians join the eco-village movement.


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