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Monday, November 19, 2012

Swidden farming (I didn't know that!)

Today, I read the term 'swidden', used to describe Cain of biblical fame and I was all apuzzle over it's meaning. Intrigued, I looked it up:

Otherwise known as shifting agriculture, swidden farming is defined as “any agricultural system in which the fields are cleared and cultivated for shorter periods than they are fallowed” (Conklin: 1957 in Jianchu & Ruscoe: 1993:11). Unlike the widely propagated view that swidden farming is destructive, swidden farming is actually “a strategy of resource management in which fields are shifted in order to exploit the energy and nutrient capital of the natural vegetation-soil complex of the future site” (McGrath:1987 in Jianchu & Ruscoe: 1993:11). By pursuing this more constructive perspective, swidden farming is therefore regarded as “a subsistence strategy in the tropics where swidden fields are highly integrated into local biodiversity, geographical complexity and socio-cultural variability” (Jianchu & Ruscoe: 1993:13).

My interest is piqued. I'm going to explore the sustainable aspect of swidden farming, as it sounds very interesting.

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