We’ve mentioned the re-ruralisation movement happening in debt-ridden Greece before, and here’s a video by German TV on the topic.
For decades people, worldwide, have been flowing from the countryside in to the cities.
In 1800, only 3 percent of the world’s population lived in urban areas. By 1900, almost 14 percent were urbanites, although only 12 cities had 1 million or more inhabitants. In 1950, 30 percent of the world’s population resided in urban centers. The number of cities with over 1 million people had grown to 83.
… In 2008, for the first time, the world’s population was evenly split between urban and rural areas. There were more than 400 cities over 1 million and 19 over 10 million. More developed nations were about 74 percent urban, while 44 percent of residents of less developed countries lived in urban areas. However, urbanization is occurring rapidly in many less developed countries. It is expected that 70 percent of the world population will be urban by 2050, and that most urban growth will occur in less developed countries. — prb.org
Thankfully the trend is now reversing, in some places at least. From China to the U.S.A. to various countries in Europe, etc., people are re-evaluating what they want out of life, giving up on the cities, and are seeking a simpler lifestyle with greater community support. Some are even trying to move out of the mainstream money economy entirely. If this trend were to continue and escalate, it could, if combined with a resurgence in practical education and apprenticeships, do wonders to stabilise local economies, whilst simultaneously improving landscapes and even stabilising climate — if that practical education was sufficiently holistic, and if these revitalised communities aim at interdependent self-reliance. Permaculturists everywhere — practitioners, consultants, teachers — can find excellent niches here, supporting this transition along healthy lines.
Of course, moving back to the land will only be possible for some. Too many will have burned their bridges on the way to the city, and will now have no property to relocate to. I don’t have figures to back this up, but I suspect this will be especially true of the poor in ‘developing’ countries. Breaking up monopolies of land will become, I believe, a defining issue over the next decade or so. I suspect it will also become a violent issue in many places, as it historically usually was. My preference would be to see policies enacted that incentivise ‘get smaller, or get out’, so we can have a relatively peaceful and staged transition, in parallel with the development of permaculture and related educational institutions that can support that transition.
Because so few people currently know much about farming, education will be essential. Universities and community colleges have both the opportunity and the responsibility to quickly develop programs in small-scale ecological farming methods, programs that also include training in other skills farmers will need such as marketing and formulating business plans.
Could we actually regain much of what we have lost? Yes, by going back, at least in large part, to horticulture. Recall that the shift from horticulture to agriculture was, as best we can tell, a fateful turning point in cultural history. It represented the beginning of full-time division of labor, of hierarchy and patriarchy. Biointensive farming and permaculture are primarily horticultural rather than agricultural systems. These new intelligent forms of horticulture could, then, offer a viable alternative to a new feudalism with a new peasantry. In addition, they emphasize biodiversity, averting many of the environmental impacts of field cropping; they use various strategies to make hand labor as efficient as possible, minimizing toil and drudgery; and they typically slash water requirements for crops grown in arid regions. — Richard Heinberg, Fifty Million Farmers