Russia’s small-scale organic agriculture model may hold the key to feeding the world

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.

Do Russians have more food freedom, independence than Americans?

A far cry from the unsustainable, chemical-dependent, industrialized agriculture system that dominates the American landscape today, Russia’s agricultural system, which is not technically a system at all, is run by the people and for the people. Thanks to government policies there that actually encourage autonomous family farming, rather than cater to the greed of chemical and biotechnology companies like they do here in the states, the vast majority of Russians are able and willing to grow their own food on privately-owned family plots known as “dachas.”

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. (

Most food in Russia comes from backyard gardens

Back in 1999, it was estimated that 35 million small family plots throughout Russia, operated by 105 million people, or 71 percent of the Russian population, were producing about 50 percent of the nation’s milk supply, 60 percent of its meat supply, 87 percent of its berry and fruit supply, 77 percent of its vegetable supply, and an astounding 92 percent of its potato supply. The average Russian citizen, in other words, is fully empowered under this model to grow his own food, and meet the needs of his family and local community.

“Bear in mind that Russia only has 110 days of growing season per year — so in the U.S., for example, gardeners’ output could be substantially greater. Today; however, the area taken up by lawns in the U.S. is two times greater than that of Russia’s gardens — and it produces nothing but a multi-billion-dollar lawn care industry.”

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.

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16 Responses to "Russia’s small-scale organic agriculture model may hold the key to feeding the world"

  1. troublecomineverydayt  October 4, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    What a great idea and it looks like it works well. It is what we need here in the States and could be used to deal with all the unemployed.

  2. JPM Cunanan  October 5, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Good start— Mini- small; that was how Bahay Kubo started— “kahit munti” and then followed “ang halaman doon ay sari-sari…” in one stanza 18 veggies for food, health & livelihood” . Bahay Kubo is the Original Filipino Micro-Variety Sustainable Farming System which is needed Earth-wide in coping with the food crisis. Enjoy your Mini-Garden— it is the way to the G.O.L.D. -Garden Of Life & Development

  3. annafrank76  October 6, 2012 at 9:44 am

    that’s very common across Europe, of course not in the cities, but if you have a garden you take profite from a piece for growing your own vegetables.

    • Miles Rout  November 22, 2012 at 12:35 am

      It’s very common for people in New Zealand and Australia to have vegetable gardens. Obviously not 2.2 acres though!

  4. svenaake  October 7, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Fortunately we now see a greening and vegetable growing in many cities all over the world as well:

  5. kelly  October 7, 2012 at 10:56 am

    I heard that Bhutan is also going 100% organic! YAY!

  6. Bart  October 9, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    And here’s an example from Poland which explains in depth the statement : Thanks to government policies there that actually encourage autonomous family farming…”

  7. seudonymous  October 13, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Wow, doing it the way it’s been done for thousands of years… Great idea.

  8. Shanti  October 16, 2012 at 7:32 pm


  9. Annette Starink  November 21, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    Creating a Space Of Love where everything flourishes! Great example. Way 2 Go!

  10. Jacquey  November 23, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    Wonderful!!! What a fine example from which we could all learn, specially in the so called modern western world.

  11. Pukelis  December 19, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    In Lithuania we have thousands of called gardens for growing food and relaxing, but this is because of decision of Soviet Russia. They gave 6-10 acres of land for many people because. There always was shortage of food in Russia. But the main idea is that when people are working hard 5 days a week in a job and plus 2 days in garden, they do not have time to think about politics, freedom, human rights and etc.

    There are still many people working in gardens and growing some things. But the gardens is always far away from cities, land is not the best for growing, and people have to do big investments to have a better yield.

  12. Goat  January 11, 2013 at 7:00 am

    This is very much like the idea I have been promoting for some time, and it is just about the only way I can ever see the world being sane.

  13. Atwas911  April 4, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    Yeah.. It’s just too bad Russia feels the need to act like Nazi Germany to the gays. No how many good things a country does, when its run by homicidal bigots, its still time for more change. A garden in the back yard does you no good when the administration rushes in and abducts you from your home in the night off to some prison camp for the crime of existing.

    • copperlebrun  June 26, 2013 at 9:28 am

      Would you have some source confirming that ? I didn’t find trace of abduction at home for Gay people in Russia on English speaking google. (perhaps I was overhasty)
      thanks !

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