What can we learn from agricultural landscapes?

Why do we like indonesian sawas, or  contourline shaped agricultural land?  Why do we think this is beautiful? For one, it s because 'form follows function'. 

It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things superhuman, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law.
These famous words came form the 19th century architect Sullivan; form follows function became a trend in the 1930s. In nature, every shape is an expression of its function. Now we call it bio-mimicri. In whatever we build - and that could be in land use too - we use logical, natural forms and shapes, as they are efficient. 

We feel that such landscapes are interesting, we photograph them, to take them home as memories of our journeys, because they mirror  the society, the social interaction, the way people provide for themselevs, in that other country. Usually, such a landscape is a result of century long, intricate proceses of interaction of man with nature. It has often been hard. The sawas are such an example, and the polders in the Netherlands as well. 

Typical for such landscapes is that they are multifunctional, that they mirror the type of soil (stony or fertile earth, peaty or sandy); they mirror the water situation, arid or wet, salty or sweet. They show us how farmers have been very inventive in managing exactly that particluar situation to grow food and fodder and other items they need for their livelihood. The more complex the agro-ecosystem, the more beautiful we think it is.  Since we (through our food industry in the western world) have pressed farmers into growing monocultures, of crops, oil palm, poultry, we have come to appreciate such often old agri-cultures. 

So it will not surprise you that in this 21st century transition, we are turning  again to more complex types of agriculture and integrated landscape management. The reason is that we must. We must take care of the soil as a living system, it needs to be able to manage itself wit a variety of crops and insects and mycorrhyza. We need to restore forests and bushes on the upper parts of mountains and hills as they prevent erosion. They make the rainwater percolate slowly from top to bottom, recreating sources of water at the foot of hillsides. 

We do not treturn to the old ways, in which farmers had to cope with the whole difficult system on their own, like they still do in Ethiopia, in Sierra Leone, in Bangladesh. We need to stop interfering egocentrically by grabbing their land and using it to our own benefits (oil palm plantations, soy plantations, hectares of roses). The New Normal is that through real multistakeholder cooperation, including investors, local government, farmers and local industries, a new business model can be applied. One that restores regional food production and watse management, circular economy, food soveriegnty, soil, nutrient management. One such good example is the approach by Commonland; another one is Eosta, making sure that products from far are produced in an integrated way. Since 2010 in England the LEAF farmers' organisation developed its own checklist for integrated farming, including environment and society. Their quality standard is so high that Unilever sources from them.