The development of farms was an important step in establishing towns such as Waldkirch, Elzach or Winden. Animals, including horses, and oxen are still used to cultivate fields, especially on steep slopes. Computers have also become an essential tool for farm management. At the beginning of the 20th century it took one farmer to produce food for 2,5 people, today, a single farmer can feed over 100 people. In recent years some aspects of industrial intensive agriculture have been the subject of increasing discussion. There has been increased activity of some people against some farming practices, raising chickens and pigs for food being just one example. Sustainable agriculture refers to the ability of a farm to continue producing indefinitely, with a minimum of outside inputs. Resources must be replenished to allow the production cycle to continue. Although resources like sun, air, and rain are available, nutrients in soil are easily exhausted. The less the farm needs outside inputs to maintain production levels, the greater its level of sustainability. From an environmental perspective, agriculture that is low on the sustainability scale will eventually run out of resources. Agriculture that relies mainly on outside inputs contributes to the depletion and degradation of the environment. Many farmers in Elztal are now running their farms on an environmentally sound basis, using solar cells, installing bio-gas recycling units, and not using fungicides or herbicides.
Monoculture, a method of growing one crop in a field annually, is generally considered unsustainable because of the required effort from outside resources to maintain annual growth. Moreover, monocultural farming method can deplete the land of other natural resources, and increase the salinity of the soil, rendering the field unfit for further farming. Throughout history, farmers seeking to grow crops usually confine themselves to growing only the fastest and most productive plants. Such practices can result in growing crops without the genetic diversity. Many scientists, farmers, and businesses have debated how to make agriculture farming sustainable. One of the many possible practices includes growing a diverse number of perennial crops in a single field, each of which would grow in separate season so as not to compete with each other for natural resources. In practice, there is no single approach to sustainable agriculture, as the precise goals and methods must be adapted to each individual case. Increasing consumer awareness of agricultural issues has led to the rise of community-supported agriculture, local food movement, slow food, and commercial organic farming in Elztal.