A few months ago, my husband and I downsized from our 20-acre self-sufficient homestead in north Idaho to a smaller home on smaller acreage. Except for a house and barn, we have no other farm infrastructure. We’re looking forward to the challenge of creating another sustainable homestead like the one we left behind.
It seems we’re not the only ones interested in sustainable farming. Recently, I became aware of a group called Black Hammer which is on the same path of sustainability, only on a community level. I am deeply interested in sustainable agriculture, so my ears perked up when I read about this project, and I explored the group’s website with interest.
The project is called Hammer City, and it has the following mission statement: “Black Hammer Organization exists to take the land back for all colonized people worldwide. We are focused on building dual contending power of and for the colonized masses. Under the leadership of the colonized poor and working class, our mission is to use our collective building power to unite, strengthen and liberate all colonized nations. Currently, our physical and intellectual labor is being coerced to build for the capitalist white colonial state, but it can be redirected to a noble cause. We will organize our labor to be of service to our people. Our symbol, the Hammer, represents breaking the chains of colonialism and building a self-determined future for all colonized people worldwide.” (You can read their Four Principles of Unity here.)
The Black Hammer group will “live with the earth, not on it.” They will achieve this by “ensuring that every step of the Hammer City building process will be viewed not only through an anti-colonial lens but also through living in harmony with the land as our ancestors have successfully done before. … Overall, Hammer City is going to address every material need of the people on top of addressing every environmental issue that colonizers have been wringing their hands trying to solve. As Colonized people, we know for a fact that the way we lived before colonization honored and in no way harmed Mother Earth. Colonization has brought our earth to the brink of collapse and Hammer city will be the first micronation to start the process of fixing the corrosive and backward nature of colonization.”
Hammer City will offer jobs, housing, food and health care for its population. There will be no cops, no rent, no coronavirus and no white people. They’ve already achieved the first step in establishing a community built on sustainable farming by securing some property. They have “successfully liberated” 200 acres of land to establish their project. The land has rich soil, one lake and three rivers that cross it.
OK, that could make things more challenging for these folks. Elevations of this height are defined as sub-alpine. A list of Rocky Mountain sub-alpine flora and fauna can be seen here. Conspicuously lacking on this list are agricultural food plants and livestock species hardy enough to survive at that elevation during such a short growing season, and which are capable of supporting a small town.
Sustainable agriculture is defined as “farming systems that are ‘capable of maintaining their productivity and usefulness to society indefinitely. Such systems … must be resource-conserving, socially supportive, commercially competitive, and environmentally sound.'” Once established, in theory it means practitioners of sustainable agriculture have a closed-loop system in which all food needs of humans, livestock, and crops are met through the continuous production of seasonal production.
But at 10,000 feet? That complicates things. A short frost-free growing season could be difficult to overcome.
It so happens I know someone who lives at that elevation in the Colorado Rockies, so I asked him about the growing conditions in his area. He responded: “I’m actually just below 10,000 feet, and we routinely have minus 20F or minus 25F a couple times during the winter. There is no growing season, per se. We’ve had snow at our house all 12 months of the year. It was 19F here this morning (May 12). Typically, trees leaf out the last part of May, and by the middle of August the aspen are turning gold. The gold season usually lasts through September, unless we get winds or snow during that time, then it’s over. We’ve tried growing multiple different plants, raspberry bushes, flowers, etc., but if it’s not native here, it won’t grow. Gardening is possible only in greenhouses or under glass.”
I hope this kind of personal experience won’t discourage Hammer City from being built. Presumably the people involved are aware of the challenges and are preparing to meet them. Perhaps the project members will discover the secrets to sub-alpine gardening and livestock management that will benefit high-altitude non-white cultures all over the world.
Apparently, a number of skeptics expressed doubts about the viability of Hammer City, particularly with regards to the quality of its soil. You’ll be glad to know these “haters” were proved wrong: “For all the haters who said our liberated 200 acres of land in the mountains didn’t have rich soil, feast your eyes on a close up! Soil has been tested.”
Who knew sub-alpine soil was so rich and fertile? That’s good news!
The Hammer City project is recruiting “all colonized people as members to build this city,” especially those with such skills as sustainable farming, water conservation, holistic health care, renewable energy, design and engineering, and laws and city planning.
I know they’ll stay true to their ideals and refuse to purchase any lumber, plumbing or electrical supplies, or any other building materials manufactured by “racist imperialistic” sources. There are plenty of “Colonized Proletariat” contractors available to hire, and I’m certain they’ve found Colonized Proletariat manufacturers of tractors, diesel fuel, greenhouse panels, pressure canners (wait, I don’t think pressure canners will work at 10,000 feet), dehydrators and other construction, food growing and food preservation methods.
I wish Black Hammer the absolute best in their new project. I’m not being facetious here; as someone deeply interested in sustainable farming, I genuinely hope they succeed. Please join me in watching their growth and development. I’ll bring the (homegrown) popcorn.
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