Comments on: Did the Soviet Union Collapse Because it Ran Out of Farmers? http://sharonastyk.com/2007/07/31/did-the-soviet-union-collapse-because-it-ran-out-of-farmers/ Sharon Astyk's Ruminations on an Ambiguous Future Thu, 04 Dec 2008 01:31:53 +0000 #?v=2.3.2 By: Anonymous http://sharonastyk.com/2007/07/31/did-the-soviet-union-collapse-because-it-ran-out-of-farmers/#comment-2008 Anonymous Fri, 03 Aug 2007 22:24:00 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2007/07/31/did-the-soviet-union-collapse-because-it-ran-out-of-farmers/#comment-2008 "Please and thank you<br/>they are the magic words" “Please and thank you
they are the magic words”

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By: RAS http://sharonastyk.com/2007/07/31/did-the-soviet-union-collapse-because-it-ran-out-of-farmers/#comment-2007 RAS Wed, 01 Aug 2007 21:42:00 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2007/07/31/did-the-soviet-union-collapse-because-it-ran-out-of-farmers/#comment-2007 I haven't gotten any complaints from the neighbors about the sprawling tomato plants in my front yard. Not that I would care anyway; some of my grass-happy neighbors I would be delighted to annoy. But here's the funny thing: since I planted the extra tomatoes in the front this year, I've noticed that about half a dozen other houses in the neighborhood have planted tomatoes in theirs -and I KNOW this hasn't happened before.<br/><br/>I think I started a trend! I haven’t gotten any complaints from the neighbors about the sprawling tomato plants in my front yard. Not that I would care anyway; some of my grass-happy neighbors I would be delighted to annoy. But here’s the funny thing: since I planted the extra tomatoes in the front this year, I’ve noticed that about half a dozen other houses in the neighborhood have planted tomatoes in theirs -and I KNOW this hasn’t happened before.

I think I started a trend!

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By: shadowfoot http://sharonastyk.com/2007/07/31/did-the-soviet-union-collapse-because-it-ran-out-of-farmers/#comment-2006 shadowfoot Wed, 01 Aug 2007 18:42:00 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2007/07/31/did-the-soviet-union-collapse-because-it-ran-out-of-farmers/#comment-2006 On growing things: My dad had grown up in the country, but we lived in a small city most of my childhood (plus 3 years in Hong Kong). My mom was from San Francisco originally, but thought it would be good for us to do some veg gardening. I got back into it, off and on, in my 20s. A few years I only grew lettuce and tomatoes, plus my herbs. My husband's family's farm has a number of products (hay, eggs, maple syrup, a little lumber, and some services), plus a truck garden of course.<br/><br/>Probably the majority of Americans have a disconnect from serious veggie gardening these days, but not everyone, and you can always start with a few plants and work your way up (assuming you have access to land or at least a window that gets decent sunlight).<br/><br/>For those who want to learn more, check in with your state's Cooperative Extension. They have all sorts of useful info.<br/><br/>If you live in the New England area, there is all the New England Small Farms Institute, which has resources, training, and networking for people who want to get into farming more seriously. They even have an internship program, where farms advertise for help and people who want to learn about that type of farming can apply to work there. <a HREF="http://www.smallfarm.org" REL="nofollow">NESFI</a> On growing things: My dad had grown up in the country, but we lived in a small city most of my childhood (plus 3 years in Hong Kong). My mom was from San Francisco originally, but thought it would be good for us to do some veg gardening. I got back into it, off and on, in my 20s. A few years I only grew lettuce and tomatoes, plus my herbs. My husband’s family’s farm has a number of products (hay, eggs, maple syrup, a little lumber, and some services), plus a truck garden of course.

Probably the majority of Americans have a disconnect from serious veggie gardening these days, but not everyone, and you can always start with a few plants and work your way up (assuming you have access to land or at least a window that gets decent sunlight).

For those who want to learn more, check in with your state’s Cooperative Extension. They have all sorts of useful info.

If you live in the New England area, there is all the New England Small Farms Institute, which has resources, training, and networking for people who want to get into farming more seriously. They even have an internship program, where farms advertise for help and people who want to learn about that type of farming can apply to work there. NESFI

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By: Weaseldog http://sharonastyk.com/2007/07/31/did-the-soviet-union-collapse-because-it-ran-out-of-farmers/#comment-2005 Weaseldog Wed, 01 Aug 2007 18:31:00 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2007/07/31/did-the-soviet-union-collapse-because-it-ran-out-of-farmers/#comment-2005 You did it!<br/><br/>Yay!<br/><br/>You made links work! You did it!

Yay!

You made links work!

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By: Weaseldog http://sharonastyk.com/2007/07/31/did-the-soviet-union-collapse-because-it-ran-out-of-farmers/#comment-2004 Weaseldog Wed, 01 Aug 2007 15:46:00 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2007/07/31/did-the-soviet-union-collapse-because-it-ran-out-of-farmers/#comment-2004 "I'm interested in how Cuba avoided this."<br/><br/>Cuba never quite left its agricultural roots. Its people never became completely dependant on technology and imports. “I’m interested in how Cuba avoided this.”

Cuba never quite left its agricultural roots. Its people never became completely dependant on technology and imports.

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By: Weaseldog http://sharonastyk.com/2007/07/31/did-the-soviet-union-collapse-because-it-ran-out-of-farmers/#comment-2003 Weaseldog Wed, 01 Aug 2007 15:42:00 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2007/07/31/did-the-soviet-union-collapse-because-it-ran-out-of-farmers/#comment-2003 Before the US market downturn in May 2001, I noticed the same thing about Russia. Their oil production peaked, then their economy went South.<br/><br/>I figured the same thing was about to happen in the US, with world oil production about to make a downturn. By Jan 2001, I had sold almost all of my market positions. The downturn came a full business quarter after the peak, just as predicted.<br/><br/>Dmitri Orlov has been contributer to Energy Resources group on Yahoo. We had a lively discussion some time back about Russian oil production and Perestroika. I see he's tied more elements together since then. Back then he was mainly focusing on Russian food production. I didn't realize until then, exactly how these problems magnify one another.<br/><br/>In 2002-2003 World oil production languished and the EIA and USGS didn't publish numbers in a timely manner. In 2004, it started coming back up and we finally saw the damage. The uptick was almost entirely due to Saudi Arabia and the Russians. Now Saudi Arabia is struggling to stand still. When Ghawar goes into steep decline, the world's economic health is going to start ratcheting downwards..<br/><br/>As we're on the cusp of decline, we're at the place that Russia was at, in the months before Perestroika. And we're not managing any of this at all. Instead our government is concentrating on making the super rich, even richer, while selling off our economy and infrastructure. We're becoming increasingly dependant on other nations for food, just as Russia did.<br/><br/>It is coming.<br/><br/>The Russian people pulled through by planting victory gardens. but on the way, a lot of Russians died.<br/><br/>Russia though, had a leg up on us. They hadn't completely abandoned the idea of growing their own food. They started with a whole generation that still knew how to farm. We are a generation removed that sort of head start. Before the US market downturn in May 2001, I noticed the same thing about Russia. Their oil production peaked, then their economy went South.

I figured the same thing was about to happen in the US, with world oil production about to make a downturn. By Jan 2001, I had sold almost all of my market positions. The downturn came a full business quarter after the peak, just as predicted.

Dmitri Orlov has been contributer to Energy Resources group on Yahoo. We had a lively discussion some time back about Russian oil production and Perestroika. I see he’s tied more elements together since then. Back then he was mainly focusing on Russian food production. I didn’t realize until then, exactly how these problems magnify one another.

In 2002-2003 World oil production languished and the EIA and USGS didn’t publish numbers in a timely manner. In 2004, it started coming back up and we finally saw the damage. The uptick was almost entirely due to Saudi Arabia and the Russians. Now Saudi Arabia is struggling to stand still. When Ghawar goes into steep decline, the world’s economic health is going to start ratcheting downwards..

As we’re on the cusp of decline, we’re at the place that Russia was at, in the months before Perestroika. And we’re not managing any of this at all. Instead our government is concentrating on making the super rich, even richer, while selling off our economy and infrastructure. We’re becoming increasingly dependant on other nations for food, just as Russia did.

It is coming.

The Russian people pulled through by planting victory gardens. but on the way, a lot of Russians died.

Russia though, had a leg up on us. They hadn’t completely abandoned the idea of growing their own food. They started with a whole generation that still knew how to farm. We are a generation removed that sort of head start.

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By: M.Squirrel http://sharonastyk.com/2007/07/31/did-the-soviet-union-collapse-because-it-ran-out-of-farmers/#comment-2002 M.Squirrel Wed, 01 Aug 2007 11:09:00 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2007/07/31/did-the-soviet-union-collapse-because-it-ran-out-of-farmers/#comment-2002 My neighbor's would be p-o-ed, too, if my front looked like my back. Therefore, we get a bit creative with the front. I believe the master gardeners are calling it "ornamental edibles". So far we have a grape vine beginning to trail up one side of the house, two berry bushes in the planting berm around one of our trees, two more under our front window (along with some peppers). We've also got carrots and cucumbers planted in pots along our front steps. I've sketched up plans to add some dwarf fruit trees as well, and add an herb, garlic, and onion bed to one side.<br/><br/>My son would be perfectly happy, though, if the front looked like the back. It takes 15 minutes these days to mow the back yard (due to all of the raised garden beds), but well over an hour to mow the front. He'd probably be even happier if we just got a couple of goats to do the job for us. My neighbor’s would be p-o-ed, too, if my front looked like my back. Therefore, we get a bit creative with the front. I believe the master gardeners are calling it “ornamental edibles”. So far we have a grape vine beginning to trail up one side of the house, two berry bushes in the planting berm around one of our trees, two more under our front window (along with some peppers). We’ve also got carrots and cucumbers planted in pots along our front steps. I’ve sketched up plans to add some dwarf fruit trees as well, and add an herb, garlic, and onion bed to one side.

My son would be perfectly happy, though, if the front looked like the back. It takes 15 minutes these days to mow the back yard (due to all of the raised garden beds), but well over an hour to mow the front. He’d probably be even happier if we just got a couple of goats to do the job for us.

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By: Anonymous http://sharonastyk.com/2007/07/31/did-the-soviet-union-collapse-because-it-ran-out-of-farmers/#comment-2001 Anonymous Wed, 01 Aug 2007 07:23:00 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2007/07/31/did-the-soviet-union-collapse-because-it-ran-out-of-farmers/#comment-2001 Hi Sharon, <br/>I just left this link at Aaron's post. Thanks for pointing out his article.<br/><br/>Hello Aaron,<br/><br/>Great subject for post... much for us to think about.<br/><br/>Here are two additional links:<br/><br/>A speech of Yegor Gaidar which develops his arguments about the collapse of the Soviet Union has been posted at the American Enterprise Intstitute: <br/><a HREF="http://www.aei.org/publications/pubID.25991,filter.all/pub_detail.asp" REL="nofollow">The Soviet Collapse" Grain and Oil</a><br/><br/>You mention Dmitri Orlov in your suggested readings. Dmitry has an excellent study online: <a HREF="http://energybulletin.net/23259.html" REL="nofollow">Closing the 'Collapse Gap': the USSR was better prepared for collapse than the US</a><br/><br/>Best wishes,<br/>Bart Anderson<br/>Energy Bulletin<br/>(energybulletin.net) Hi Sharon,
I just left this link at Aaron’s post. Thanks for pointing out his article.

Hello Aaron,

Great subject for post… much for us to think about.

Here are two additional links:

A speech of Yegor Gaidar which develops his arguments about the collapse of the Soviet Union has been posted at the American Enterprise Intstitute:
The Soviet Collapse” Grain and Oil

You mention Dmitri Orlov in your suggested readings. Dmitry has an excellent study online: Closing the ‘Collapse Gap’: the USSR was better prepared for collapse than the US

Best wishes,
Bart Anderson
Energy Bulletin
(energybulletin.net)

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By: Kiashu http://sharonastyk.com/2007/07/31/did-the-soviet-union-collapse-because-it-ran-out-of-farmers/#comment-2000 Kiashu Wed, 01 Aug 2007 03:54:00 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2007/07/31/did-the-soviet-union-collapse-because-it-ran-out-of-farmers/#comment-2000 As I understand it, the book says that first the oil peaked, and after that and as a result the grain production peaked. A large part of food production was actually in private plots, the collectivised agriculture - like our corporatised agriculture - could only work with massive inputs of oil.<br/><br/>This left the Soviet leaders with a dilemma, to either loosen up the domestic economy and let people grow their own stuff, or loosen up their external economy and allow more imports (of both oil and food). <br/><br/>The first option would mean loosening politically, while the second would mean money flowing out of the country. They chose the second option, but because they didn't have enough money and the West wouldn't lend them enough, meant that they faced a triple crisis: energy, food and money. Under the weight of this crisis, the outside republics started pulling away, and in an effort to keep them they tried a chaotic mixture of domestic loosening of control, and crackdowns. Because it was a mixed effort it didn't work. Then a group popped up to try to make it entirely a crackdown - there was a coup against Gorbachev. The regime then lost all legitimacy in the eyes of the people, and it fell apart. <br/><br/>Countries collapse not because of any single stress, but from a <i>combination</i> of stresses. They can survive famine, economic collapse, lack of social mobility, losing a foreign war, energy crisis, and so on - but not all of those at once. <br/><br/> As I understand it, the book says that first the oil peaked, and after that and as a result the grain production peaked. A large part of food production was actually in private plots, the collectivised agriculture - like our corporatised agriculture - could only work with massive inputs of oil.

This left the Soviet leaders with a dilemma, to either loosen up the domestic economy and let people grow their own stuff, or loosen up their external economy and allow more imports (of both oil and food).

The first option would mean loosening politically, while the second would mean money flowing out of the country. They chose the second option, but because they didn’t have enough money and the West wouldn’t lend them enough, meant that they faced a triple crisis: energy, food and money. Under the weight of this crisis, the outside republics started pulling away, and in an effort to keep them they tried a chaotic mixture of domestic loosening of control, and crackdowns. Because it was a mixed effort it didn’t work. Then a group popped up to try to make it entirely a crackdown - there was a coup against Gorbachev. The regime then lost all legitimacy in the eyes of the people, and it fell apart.

Countries collapse not because of any single stress, but from a combination of stresses. They can survive famine, economic collapse, lack of social mobility, losing a foreign war, energy crisis, and so on - but not all of those at once.

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By: shadowfoot http://sharonastyk.com/2007/07/31/did-the-soviet-union-collapse-because-it-ran-out-of-farmers/#comment-1999 shadowfoot Wed, 01 Aug 2007 03:01:00 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2007/07/31/did-the-soviet-union-collapse-because-it-ran-out-of-farmers/#comment-1999 We have only a little food growing in the front yard, but I'm betting we could probably grow more in a front yard (if we had more space), without disturbing the neighbors. As it is, everyone can see the tomatoes in our side yard, halfway down the driveway....<br/><br/>We have some berry bushes in the front yard, behind a light 'fence' of decorative Russian Sage. Also behind the R.Sage, surrounding the berry bushes, are bunches of chives. We also have a common sage bush in front. <br/><br/>But the reason I put the bushes behind the R.Sage wasn't because I was concerned about what the neighbors would think, but because I didn't want to feed the entire neighborhood. A hedge or decorative fence along the front edge of the yard, maybe with a narrow border of flowers along the fence, would look lovely, and no doubt help defuse any issues with a front yard garden. <br/><br/>Also, depending on what types of flowers one planted, they could help attract bees, which is good for pollinating any number of types of veggies. Russian Sage, Daisies, Echinacea Purpurea, are just a few. We have only a little food growing in the front yard, but I’m betting we could probably grow more in a front yard (if we had more space), without disturbing the neighbors. As it is, everyone can see the tomatoes in our side yard, halfway down the driveway….

We have some berry bushes in the front yard, behind a light ‘fence’ of decorative Russian Sage. Also behind the R.Sage, surrounding the berry bushes, are bunches of chives. We also have a common sage bush in front.

But the reason I put the bushes behind the R.Sage wasn’t because I was concerned about what the neighbors would think, but because I didn’t want to feed the entire neighborhood. A hedge or decorative fence along the front edge of the yard, maybe with a narrow border of flowers along the fence, would look lovely, and no doubt help defuse any issues with a front yard garden.

Also, depending on what types of flowers one planted, they could help attract bees, which is good for pollinating any number of types of veggies. Russian Sage, Daisies, Echinacea Purpurea, are just a few.

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