Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Esoteric agriculture or a universal principle?

Its a little late in the evening to tackle this topic but lets have a go.  I have a Soil Association audit tomorrow and I am thinking about why we do this.

When all is said and done there is nothing more important than our relationships with plants, animals and each other.  It is hard to see those relationships clearly except in both a spiritual ethical way and in a strictly materialistic way.  In normal times the moral is to the material as three is to one but of course farmers facing a particular pest attack such as the small white snails which devastated the lavandin crop in France a few years ago (or locust swarms in Egypt) should not stand on their organic principles!

When this thinking is applied to fertiliser and compost  a comparison might be to eating synthetic highly processed food.  This leave us unsatisfied and unhealthy.  Fertilising the soil with synthetic chemical fertilisers eventually leaves the soil exhausted and degraded.  Fertilising with organic compost leaves the soils productivity unharmed and so despite the additional costs of labour intensive composting in theory farms run on these lines should be competitive with conventionally run farms before issues of scale are considered.  Here the community can help with community sponsored agriculture whereby for example 4000 families will support organic farming by having a weekly delivery of vegetables and plant oils. 

This thinking is a universal principal applicable in many contexts besides farming.  Such thinking is strongly associated with Germany and with Steiner and for those who have followed him. In its application to agriculture it goes further than the British Organic model.  Incidentally those who did follow this thinking in Germany courageously rejected National Socialism in Germany in the 1930s and none joined that party.  In consequence a large part of the natural movement in Germany was banned and their lodges closed.  British thinkers who have been inspired by Steiner include CS Lewis and Tolkein whose books are classics.  Through Steiner we reach Goethe and Nietzche and can see why my beloved Shakespeare has always been so popular in Germany.

Training.  Regarding our adult aromatherapy college the Shirley Price International College of Aromatherapy there is much of Steiners approach to education.  To give a flavour for this consider his principles in relation to childrens education.

Up to the age of seven encourage play, drawing, story telling, being at home, nature study and natural things.
Teach a child to write and be creative before you teach them to read. Do not keep changing a teacher
Concentrate on one subject at a time - do two hours per day for several weeks
Find links between art and science.
Engage and make sure that the student is enthusiastic about the material being covered.
Give a moral lead but do not teach a particular set of beliefs.
Encourage learning for its own sake. Do not just work for exams.

Products.  Would you like to find out more about biodynamic agriculture?
We expect to have an almond oil made on Demeter principles available in the new year.

Almond production in California is the states biggest export.  Find out more about Californian growers who share a dedication to maintaining the highest standards of responsible growing and production.

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