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.
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 nature. (http://www.ringingcedars.com/)
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.