Phase 1 Food
   The most advanced and opulent of lifestyles come crashing down if they don’t have access to food.  Knowledge of local wild edibles and untended domestic edibles can help out briefly, but in a race against starvation things need to be planted as soon as possible.
   Optimizing sources of wild edibles is the easiest and most primitive form of agriculture. As you gather, take an extra few minutes to uproot competing non-edibles that may be crowding or shading the more desirable plants – a little water wouldn’t hurt either if you can afford it. In sloping areas pull together pebbles and earth into micro terraces. This will slow the runoff of water and top soil, enhancing the productivity and amount of ground water. One advantage of such practices is that you would be creating gardens too subtle to be noticed by most of modern humanity.  On a slightly more intrusive scale, plots for domestic varieties could be prepared in this manner.
   Those who’s sensitivities have not been cauterized by the sensuality of our society, and who have experienced gardening, know that it can be very fulfilling. For all the fascinating complexities of an engineering career there is something primal and beautiful in being half-naked and barefoot while working with rich soil. The complexities of society disappear and the earth comes to life. Since there are no mortgages, car payments, insurance obligations or taxes to pay at this level, we are free to give this essential activity the attention it deserves.
   In designing a social rebuild at this level we can carefully guard this treasure for all who need it. Building a locally sustainable society will require carefully protected garden areas physically adjacent to each village; this cannot be compromised by any level of developmental pressure. To compromise this, is to return to slavery.
   A number of years ago Mel Bartholomew wrote an excellent book titled “Square Foot Gardening”. The procedures he describes produce four to five times as much produce per unit of area when compared to conventional gardening.  This is not fiction; I tried it, and was astonished at the results.
   The increased attention needed is balanced by the fact that there is less area for weeds to grow, less land to till, and less water needed. With these things considered, I am convinced that there is less total time required for the amount of food produced when compared with conventional methods.
   These yields are achievable by applying a combination of techniques that many experienced gardeners use:
  1. Plant things in two-dimensions instead of in rows. If the instructions call for rows 1' apart and spacing of 3" (common for carrots for instance), plant them in rows 3" apart, and that in itself will give you four times as many. Some efficiency of sunlight will be lost, but very little. 
2. There are varieties of small melons and squash that can be grown vertically on frames, instead of spreading out horizontally over the ground. Cantaloupe, butter-nut squash, and acorn squash can be grown like this. Tomatoes can also be made to take up less space if they are properly trimmed and made to grow on flat vertical frames.
 3. Transplantable plants are started and nurtured to about a third their mature size and then transplanted into the garden space.  Consider the space required for the seedling project:
  A 6" wide plant at maturity will allow four plants per square foot. At one third the size, you could prepare thirty-six seedlings in the same space.
  It takes about half the plant's life to achieve one third its mature size. Simply replanting with 1/3-sized seedlings could double the productivity for a given period of time. This would also:
  * Allow the rotation of different plant varieties as seasons and soil conditions change.
  * Allow you to replant as individual plants are harvested, so you could have a continuous supply.
4. Even without a separate seedling plot, some plants (lettuce for instance) can be enjoyed long before they are mature. Over-plant an area of such varieties, and begin enjoying the thinnings long before the main harvest.
   In the gardening cycle there are periods of intense activity interspersed with waiting, and light maintenance. As the society develops it would be practical to have a few full-time agronomists backed by a community that could pitch in and help during times of planting and harvest. Such natural rhythms have served humanity well for millennia, and were often the occasion of key social and cultural activities.
   In the early stages of phase one, almost everyone would be involved in the initial development of garden plots. The mobility available to those with little or nothing could also be used to good advantage. A circuit consisting of multiple camp sites would enhance foraging and garden options.
   I would offer some important advice for those planning alternative communities: Don’t assume that you can suddenly pull off an entire diet change and have a town full of happy campers.
  You should at least buy and prepare meals based upon what you plan to live on long before you are deprived of a choice. This exercise will also bring to light deficiencies in your plan, and give you time to consider additional crops. It would also be important to experience growing samples of those items ahead of time.
   Consider spices, herbs, and medicinal plants in your planning. I once read that some of the historic pioneers would prefer to leave a blanket behind than their stash of spices.
Phase 2 Food
   At this stage there is permanent land available to provide food for the community. Much has been done
· A staple diet for the village has been established
· The amount of land to support the initial population of the village has been prepared and planted
· Arrangements for water have been made
   The carrying capacity of the agricultural land would be at least two or three times that required to maintain the village – for a number of reasons:
· Protection against times of adverse climate
· Miscalculations in plantings, and experimentation
· Ability to increase production to temporarily assist others in need
· Reserve for optional cash crops for external commerce
· Temporarily support the development of additional sustainable communities.
   Energy for cooking and refrigerating food is discussed in the sections on “Energy”, and “Playing With Fire.”
Phase 3 Food
   It is important that the primary staples of the local diet remain under the control of the village. Herb gardens for flavoring and medicinal purposes would also be developed. Beyond these, there would be no reason to limit the importation of any flavorings or exotic foods desired.
   Health, variety, and flavor would be provided by crops grown within a mile or two of your own doorstep. As a producing member of your local community (whether as a gardener or a software engineer) you would have a share of ownership in this enterprise and be guaranteed a share in the produce no matter what the rest of the world chose to do with their own resources.
   As part of the agricultural mix, trees are essential. These will augment the energy supply, provide structural materials, and be processed to provide compounds normally derived from petroleum.