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Reed Jules Oppenheimer Foundation
Recognizing that poverty is the greatest destructive force to the planet and it's people, the Valley Foundation has an international focus on providing food security and greater profitability for the 2.5 billion small scale farmers living in poverty worldwide following three main principles of Agroecology: Care for the Earth, Care for people and Care for surplus production. These three principles are achieved by creating ecosystems that are designed to feed people, regenerate soil and forest ecosystems, and reinvest system surplus so that every output becomes an input, just like a natural ecosystem. In the short to mid-term this strategy drastically reduces cash input for a given farm. In the long-term it will eliminate monetary investment entirely; no fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, seeds, or saplings need to be purchased, while providing abundant nutritious food for a farmer and his entire family on as little as ¼ hectare.
A small scale farmer trapped in a mono cropping, downward spiral might spend more than 50% of his meager income on food to feed his family. Unlike mono cropping where success is determined by the weather, single crop market prices and a once or twice per year harvest event, Agroecology provides a diversity of crops, much more adaptive to the vagaries of weather patterns, producing crops and income for a full twelve months of the year, while obtaining a significantly higher water utilization and production per acre ratio, making this an ideal system for our target beneficiaries, the rural poor and disadvantaged urban communities. A related group of technologies have tremendous applicability for ranchers of any size, increasing forage, improving soil conditions, resisting drought, and improving both beef quality and quantity. These technologies are just as applicable for small scale agriculturalists in the US as they are for at risk peoples in the third world.
The United Nations has acknowledged this powerful dynamic, stating that Agroecology is the only way to feed a growing world population and ensure the survival of the small scale farmer, while sustaining our planet with its finite natural resources.