Vassar College Digital Library
Sustainable agriculture discourse describes agricultural practices and techniques used to maintain land fertility.  At its broadest definition, sustainable agriculture aims to make land hospitable to cultivated crops for an indefinite amount of time.  The discourse itself has only arisen in response to increased industrialization of world food production, but practices included in, and ideals behind sustainable agriculture have existed for millennia.  Ancient Roman agrarian writing can be viewed as embodying the principles and ideas of sustainable agriculture, though the discourse did not yet exist to articulate it as such. Using the texts of Columella, Varro, Cato, Virgil, and Pliny, agricultural practices and ideals of the Roman Republic and Empire can be correlated with the modern writings of Wendell Berry, Sir Albert Howard, J.I. Rodale, Wes Jackson, and Rudolf Steiner.  It is impossible to tell from these ancient writings how farms were run and to what extent these texts were read and applied.  Their existence shows however that the questions were being raised, so study based entirely on these texts gives a purely intellectual view of agrarian happenings in Ancient Rome.
Chapter 1: <em>The Discourse of Sustainable Agriculture</em>
Chapter 2: <em>Ancient Roman Agrarian Texts</em>
Chapter 3: <em>Sustainability in Ancient Rome</em>
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