In 1947, two titans of 20th-century economic theory, Ludwig von Mises and Wilhelm Röpke, met in Röpke’s home of Geneva, Switzerland. During the war, the Genevan fathers coped with shortages by providing citizens with small garden allotments outside the city for growing vegtables. These citizen gardens became so popular with the people of Geneva that the practice was continued even after the war and the return to abundance. Röpke was particularly proud of these citizen farmers, and so he took Mises on a tour of the gardens. “A very inefficient way of producing foodstuffs!” Mises noted disapprovingly. “Perhaps so, but a very efficient way of producing human happiness” was Röpke’s rejoinder.
For the present, I'll restrict myself to observing that the efficient, centralized agricultural production so admired by Mises will be rendered obsolete by the gradual increase of the costs of the petroleum required for fertilization, pesticides, and transportation, and that smaller farms tend to produce greater yields per acre, while larger farms tend to produce greater yields per dollar. Oh, yes, one more thing - I've never yet known a child who thrills to the sight of heavy industry and suburban sprawl; virtually all of them, to the contrary, thrill to the sight of such ordinary features of the natural world as hills, fields, forests, ponds, cows, turtles, and so on. From the mouths of children, thou hast ordained wisdom, O God - or so I am inclined to say.