Charles Massy and Regenerative Agriculture

Charles Massy is now well known to many in Australia through his ground breaking book The Call of the Reed Warbler. Well now his reputation has spread to the UK where last month he gave a presentation at the Food Sustainable Trust’s Annual Conference. A video of that presentation has been released by the Trust and the Institute is delighted to bring it to you:

The Charles Massy story doesn’t end there. One of the more prophetic statements in The Call of the Reed Warbler was captured by Eve Perroni in the 14 June 2019 edition of Food Movement, Food Systems, News and Reviews. In this quote Charles Massy reflects on the size of the human brain relative to its power:

“It seems incredible that the 1.3-kilogram mass of brain matter, tissue and neurons within our heads is now in the driving seat of a vehicle that can take us for a frightening plunge over the cliff’s edge or else carefully steer us away from the abyss. Yet the overwhelming majority of the human species is not aware of the imminent danger, and the reasons for this are twofold. On the one hand, billions of people face a daily struggle for survival in the developing world. On the other hand, the vast majority of us who live in the developed world are too busy pursuing our consumptive lifestyles to care or become informed about the greatest crisis to ever confront humanity.

Even more worrying is the fact that for those few of us who have been appraised of the life-threatening consequences of our ongoing human behaviour and are in a position to do something about it, many are at best sceptical (despite the overwhelming evidence) and at worst downright dismissive of the unpalatable and inconvenient truth. At the same time, those of us in the best position to be well informed – our political and business leaders – carry on as if they live in a parallel but removed universe, so deeply are they embedded in the core ruling precepts of the Mechanical mind.

By arrogantly having placed ourselves outside the functional operating parameters of Earth’s systems, we now see nature and the Earth as separate from us and so just available for use – while all the time the panacea for our ills and insecurities is seen to be endless consumption and growth.

Such is the power of both the individual and collective human mind. However, to emphasise the optimistic side of this factor, there is a faint but strengthening glimmer of hope: a gathering insurgency against the above stupidity. This rebellion is coming from those closest to Mother Earth: the farmers. But it is also coming from their urban cousins who seek better health, tastier and more ‘wholesome’ food, a closer connection to Earth, and a life lived more simply and meaningfully in a sharing community.

That is why the stories told in my book, Call of the Reed Warbler: A New Agriculture, A New Earth, are cause for optimism, for they are just a minute selection of many good works being done across the globe to regenerate Earth. For me, when I think about the big-picture stuff and the overwhelmingly important role of self-organisation in our complex systems, these acts of agricultural and urban-food and lifestyle defiance against the ruling Mechanical mind are more than acts of insurgency. They are the emergent properties that enable all self-organising systems to direct themselves towards ongoing survival and life.”

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