Agriculture is a powerful force. I am reminded of this as I continue to read the Ringing Cedars book series by Vladimir Megre. I just finished book 5, Who Are We? (I am reading these, though I do photoread them first.) At this point the series has morphed into the story of the Russian people, their agriculture, and the tremendous potential in their agricultural choices now.
In the last part of book 4, Co-Creation, Anastasia expressed her vision for the Russian people to transform themselves and their society into a vital and vibrant agrarian civilization through the simple process of establishing “family domains”. These domains are one hectare (about 2 1/2 acres) parcels designed to provide food and shelter and productive, creative work for each family as well as ecosystem services for Russia as a whole. They use living, hedgerow fences, for example, on their perimeters; remain at least half in forest; and are gardened using the excess fertility produced by the forest. Gathered together into eco-village communities, these family domains become the backbone, actually the entire skeleton, the foundation for the new Russia.
The crux of this vision lies in the domains being given to any willing citizen by the Russian government. They will be given in perpetuity so long as there is an heir willing to continue working them and will be completely tax-free. Neither the land, nor the products of these domains will be subject to any form of taxation, allowing money to flow to and remain with individuals and families.
This last part may sound impossible to anyone with economic training, but by the time the books address the questions that come up, the whole scheme begins to look not only possible, but desirable. Higher taxes on tourism combined with more private funding of the community and public projects that people desire (“put your money where your mouth is” sort of thing) are just two of the ways that the Russian government can do this and still function.
This book was originally published in Russian in 2001. They have sold like hotcakes there and the ideas in them have apparently been embraced whole-heartedly by millions of Russians. According to a footnote in my English edition, on July 7, 2003 Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law the “Private Garden-plot Act”. Russian citizens can now receive free of charge from the state plots of land in private, inheritable ownership. The size of these plots varies by region, generally between 1 and 3 hectares. Produce grown on these plots is not subject to taxation. A second law strengthening the first was passed in June 2006.
Some basic data points regarding Russian agriculture are also discussed early in Book 5. In 1997 Russian household gardens grew 90% of Russia’s potatoes, 77% of its berries and fruit, and 73% of its vegetables. In 2004 these numbers were up to 93%, 80%, and 81% respectively. Russian gardeners, working in their free time and using predominantly organic methods – and without benefit of heavy machinery, hired labor, or government subsidies – now outproduce the whole commercial agricultural sector of Russia with 51% of the country’s total ag output. According to the book, the contribution of these gardeners to the Russian economy exceeds any one of the following industries: steel; electric power generation; chemical and pharmaceutical; forestry, timber, pulp and paper together; oil refining, natural gas, and coal together.
How agriculture is practiced ripples through a culture and society, shaping the people, the social institutions, and the land itself. Big ag has helped shape big banks, big corporations, and big government in this country – and vice versa. I am encouraged to hear that the Russian people are working on taking a different path.
Russia is a very different culture, but I wonder if there are parts of this vision that would be helpful in the quest for health and happiness here in the United States? Can we develop more appreciation for the potential power in the growing-abilities of small-scale and homestead-scale gardeners, especially when multiplied by millions. Michael Ableman’s proposal that fruit and veggie growing needs to be carried on a lot more shoulders here in North America falls in line with Anastasia’s vision of a path to a healthy and bright future. Could the land-linking systems springing up around the country in response to an aging farmer population be expanded to include those wishing to produce on a smaller scale? Could they become a means to magnify the power of the small? Can we write a new business plan for our local, state, and/or national governments that would show them the enhanced potential for resilience, democracy, and overall well-being in adopting tax-free policies for this scale of agriculture?
That seems far off right now, but with enough inspired minds, it is not out of reach.
In one of the early books in this series, Anastasia emphasizes the importance of people touching the Earth with their hands. In the same way that a horse can feel the presence of one fly on its coat or we can feel one mosquito land on our skin, the Earth is also sensitive and can feel how we handle her. The energies of love and appreciation and joy that pour in through our hands is significant to the Earth’s health and well-being.
In a world acknowledged to be quantum and entangled at all scales, we can no longer dismiss such an idea as ludicrous. We do hold the power of regeneration in our hearts and minds and hands. Let’s use it!