EAAA Presidents Report 2012
This is the third AGM of the EAAA. That statement projects its own message; we are young and growing. Two years ago we had 50 members, today we have 200. Two years ago we had little evidence of activity today we have an attractive and informative newsletter and a Facebook that is engaging people in thinking about ecological agriculture from around the world. I will revisit these achievements however before doing so I would like to reflect on the place of an ecological approach to agriculture in Australia. We invite you to read the Presidents Report in full. EAAA President, Kerry Cochrane.
EAAA AGM Special Showing on the movie “Fresh” and discussion by Johannes Bauer of the Bathurst Co-Operative
Changes to Membership & Newsletter Subscription
Sadly, the free period of membership charges has had to come to an end, for now. Perhaps in due course we can introduce a free period again however that will depend on our financial wellbeing. The EAAA has about $1100 in its account and given the cost of running an organisation we felt this was getting close to the poverty line. For that reason we are introducing a $26 a year charge which equates to a 50 cents a week cost. We hope you agree to continue your membership and in this way help the EAAA to survive. Students I hasten to add will continue to receive free membership. Details of how to pay into a PayPal account will be sent to you shortly with the intention of starting the fee structure at the beginning of the next financial year.
We understand that a small number of Members received a ‘garbled’ Newsletter in April, thank you for letting us know! We apologise for this and hope that the glitch in our software is now resolved.
The development of a Social Networking Proposal earlier in the year has expanded the EAAA reach into the world of Social Media. 11 million Australians have aFacebook account, YouTube has 11 million unique Australian users per month and nearly 2 million of us are on Twitter. Joining these online conversations and connections, the EAAA Facebook page is active, engaging and fun, is increasing membership weekly and feeds directly to over 280 Twitter followers including politicians Julia Gillard, Tony Burke, Tony Abbott, Adam Bandt, Bob Brown (to name a few) together with large farming organisations, federations, television and radio networks, various DSE departments and friends who care about embracing an ecologically sustainable future. Sue Hill.
Opinion Piece: Industrial Agriculture, Organic Agriculture and something else perhaps?
Is there room for another category of agriculture? Could it be that we have outgrown the old labels which fall into two camps; industrial and organic. In my President’s Report to the AGM of the EAAA I made reference to this and details of that report can be found in this newsletter. As stated in that report one of the advantages of creating another category called ‘ecological’ is that it provides a haven for those wanting to start farming in a manner which is not industrial and which may, should the inclination be strong, take the farmer into the organic camp. Last week I visited a farmer who would fit into the ecological label, Michael Inwood.
The Way We Think Influences What We Do by Emily Griffin
In the Bachelor of Ecological Agricultural Systems course students in first year are asked to draw a correlation between two forms of thinking – boxed or reductionist thinking and linking or systems thinking – and that of two major forms of agriculture: Industrial and Organic Agriculture. Emily Griffin contribution was outstanding in that she collected the evidence based on the assumptions of boxed thinking. As you read it you will quickly pick up the threads of the various assumptions. Perhaps this explains why it is important that people learn about systems thinking if they wish to engage in a different form of farming. Over to Emily: Kerry Cochrane
A Letter from the USA to the Union of Concerned Scientists
Rick Cutler replied to the Union of Concerned Scientists regarding trends in American farming via their website, on June 5, 2012: “I just returned from a trip to Iowa, and what I saw there was sad. Is there really any possible way to stop BidAgra from taking over everything? As you drive you see almost endless fields of mono-crops of corn and soybean. You also pass the Hog Confinement Farms where you can hear and smell the noise from the ultra-crowded sea of pigs as it wafts through the giant fans in the end of the building. Occasionally you see a small family farm, but most of them are either beautiful, old, and abandoned, or it’s plain that people merely reside there and the only local “Crop” is the cut grass of the yard around the house. What we’ve done to farming with the chemicals is scary as this blog says. It’s going to take a “sea change” to stop it. I hope it’s possible.” The Union published a statement regarding trends towards a ‘big is better’ mentality in American farming and it started as follows. Kerry Cochrane
Research into Conventional v Organic and Response from Professor David Kemp to EAAA
Research by Verena Seufert, Navin Ramankutty, & Jonathan A. Foley as written up in the May edition of Nature, compared the yields from Conventional versus Organic. This was a meta-analysis which means they reviewed a number of research papers to ascertain their findings. EAAA asked Professor David Kemp to respond to these findings. Kerry Cochrane
Soil Health and Wellbeing Workshop
If you missed Upper Lachlan Landcare’s soil health and well-being workshop here are some resources for you to browse. The Soil Health & Your Wellbeing Presentations are available as PDF’s by clicking on the link below. Joanne Dodd of EAAA Natural Ecology and Education Pillar also attended the workshop and has published an informative blog on the event with links to some excellent resources. Joanne Dodd
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How are Organic Producers of Australia Managing Climate Change?
The Organic Federation of Australia has produced an extensive set of information notes that bring you up-to-date information on climate change as it relates to organic and biodynamic producers. This information has come from published scientific research, including the data from leading organic research institutes such as FiBL in Switzerland and Rodale in the USA, and from the international organic body, IFOAM. This manual can assist organic producers to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. Building healthy soils by increasing soil carbon through the recycling of organic matter is the basis of organic agriculture. Consequently, methods for increasing soil carbon is one of the dominant messages in this manual. Gregory Paynter
Funding reduces costs to study organic farming
EAAA recommends a visit to the Riverina Institute of TAFE to experience their great work in education and a working student farm. Recent funding is well deserved for the Institute. Organic industry representative body Biological Farmers of Australia, BFA, has secured funding to subsidise the cost of an organic farming course for 55 students. The Diploma in Agriculture (Organic Production) is available to anyone wanting to make a living from the land or is already doing so. Adrianna Marchand
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Food Standards – FSANZ – Vital Information About Your Food
This Notification Circular includes notices that are required to be given to the public, submitters and appropriate government agencies, under the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991 (FSANZ Act). The circulars provide you with accurate most up to date information about submissions made to Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ), that affect you, what is grown in Australian soils and the food you eat. Vital information regarding GMO Applications is generated from this resource. Here is one example since our last issue that warrants particular attention: Application A1073: Food derived from Herbicide-tolerant Soybean DAS-44406-6: to seek permission for food derived from herbicide-tolerant soybean, genetically modified to provide tolerance to 2,4-D, glufosinate ammonium and glyphosate. David Savill
What the Bleep Do We Know?
Several years ago a film by this name did the circuit of Australian cinemas. It is not your ordinary Odeon cinema attraction although, I remember facilitating a session in the Odeon Cinema Orange on this occasion. About 90 attended and were entertained by such concepts as quantum reality. The film was entertaining and informative although to some of it was challenging too. Well now, a What the Bleep Study Notes have been released and these are a useful set of notes for discussion purposes, or even if you simply want to read them yourself then they serve that purpose too. However if you feel comfortable with the content and think you can facilitate a group discussion then why not try your hand at that too. The EAAA will be willing to help where needed. For details of the notes go to the Link. They are free. Kerry Cochrane
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Local versus Global “The 100-Mile Diet”
“The 100-Mile Diet” has been read by people in many parts of the world and is equally valid wherever you live. Alisa Smith and James B. MacKinnon, based in Vancouver Canada set an arbitrary line of a 100 mile radius around themselves for a year, so that they would concentrate on eating what was local. They came to know the farmers and fishermen within that range who were ecologically conscious and to know the sources of their food, the seasons, the gluts and scarcities. A movement started and the idea is now spreading throughout the world. As oil and gas reserves decrease we will rely more on local food. Think of the other good that is derived from this- supporting local farmers and local communities and growing your own healthy food. There is no need to be extreme but be more aware and eat local food more often. By doing this the food miles are less so the produce is fresher and tastier, packaging is less, consumption of simple unprocessed foods increases, more home grown produce is consumed, and best of all you know where your food is coming from, how it is grown and who has grown it. “ If the gap between you and the food is too great, you may find yourself disconnected from the people and places that sustain you, distracted from the consequences of the way you eat, and distant from the cultural memory of just how good eating can be ” (Smith& MacKinnon 2007). Meg Hoskin
Moves Toward Farmer Protection Laws RE GM
With all eyes on the Steve Marsh case in Western Australia (Supreme Court case to seek damages for loss of certification on 70% of land following canola contamination in 2010), it is of great interest the moves by South Australia Green MLC Mark Parnell to compensate farmers affected by GM contamination. At the moment the law seems to safeguard the seller (Monsanto), at the expense of the purchaser (the farmer). For details go to this Link. You can watch Mark, a former environmental lawyer, talk about the issues Read More! Kerry Cochrane
Rain, Rain and the Long March
Claire and Sam Johnson are ecological farmers on ‘Windermere’, a 1500 hectare property near Young, on the South West Slopes of NSW and they have a story about the recent rain events that occurred in February-March this year. Sam and Claire have returned to ‘relationship marketing’ through a passion for land management, regenerative agriculture, local employment and producing excellent food outside the traditional commodity market. Read the Boxgum Grazing blog to hear about how they moved 60 piglets and two mobs of pigs in the torrential rain, over no less than kilometres. Read on to Sam’s Blog.
Signing the Declaration of Interdependence
What we know, what we believe and what we resolve is part of The International Declaration of Interdependence written by the David Suzuki Foundation written initially as guiding principles to steer the direction of the Foundation. Adrianna Marchand
Climate Change FAQ
The federal Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency released a response to Professor Ian Plimer’s 101 questions on climate change science after the publication in late 2011 of his latest book “How to get expelled from school: a guide to climate change for pupils, parents and punters”. The answers and comments provided are intended to give clear and accurate responses to Professor Plimer’s questions. The answers are based on up-to-date peer-reviewed science and have been reviewed by a number of Australian climate scientists. Adrianna Marchand
Ecological Farming and Social Media
As diversity grows in the fields of our ecological farms, so does the menu of how to access these farms and farmers. Increasingly, social networking media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Blogs are being used to promote the ecological farming message and taking the farm to the consumer door. EAAA has engaged in this activity through a number of ways including our Facebook Page and Twitter Stream bringing the ecological message to you. The benefits or farmers engaging in this practice are clearly two-fold: bringing people to the farm and decreasing the isolation felt by farmers through engagement with others. Recently ABC’s Landline program highlighted a number of farmers learning Facebook and Twitter in order to get online and get engaged. Social media is increasingly considered as a critical tool to use on the farm. Adrianna Marchand
“The Great Work”
Thomas Berry was an eminent cultural historian. His book “The Great Work” has been described as “visionary “ and a guide for human beings to change from a destructive force on Earth to having ecological insight for both us and our planet to survive. Berry talked about the need for an intimate relationship with the Earth “…for it is the planet itself that brings us into being, sustains us in life and delights us with its wonders.” Everything will “become dysfunctional if our natural life systems cease to function.” His vision was of an “Ecozoic Era – a period when humans would become a mutually beneficial presence on Earth”, abandoning Use as our primary relationship with the planet. His other major works include “The Dream of the Earth” and “The Universe Story”. Short video clip discussions by Thomas Berry on his books and “Nature and Humans” can be found on YouTube. Meg Hoskin
Recently EAAA received feedback from David Tayler and Paul Newell which is published in our Blog. We would welcome your comment and further feedback and input which you can direct to the President firstname.lastname@example.org or the Newsletter email@example.com or perhaps you might be interested in answering the call yourself through active engagement with EAAA? David: “I would like to read comments about farmers who are practising ecological agriculture; what they are doing on their farms that are novel (as distinct from conventional industrial agriculture and horticultural practice). I believe “chatting” between the members is a good way to bring the membership together as the writers of articles (about their farms) are also the readers. Its inclusive of a much broader network of contacts than each members immediate contacts, and importantly gets away from the domination of the “gurus”. I would also like to read half to one page summaries on the projects students are undertaking; these summaries might include the following points – background to the project, objective of the project, progress to date, what additional resources could make a big difference, and a photo or two. Then EAAA can compile a portfolio of projects being done for publication on the website. There is nothing to stop farmers doing likewise and even including some broad-scale economics, and, if required, the EAAA executive could help farmers with preparation. It’s all about making EAAA dynamic among its (hopefully) ever increasing membership.” David Tayler
Aeolian Bacteria Riders
Spare a thought for the beneficial microbes that help build soil, detoxify contaminants, and recycle nutrients that travelled with the last Dust Bowl along with soil particles, salt and alike. Adrianna Marchand
Soil Food Web Interactions & Benefits to Plant Production Course with Mary Cole & Elaine Ingham
This 2 week course in August 2012 in Victoria at the University of Melbourne Dookie Campus. The course takes in laboratory work where participants learn to use a microscope for ongoing qualitative assessment of compost teas made during the course. Field visits are included so practical aspects of biological farming are covered. Also, learn to understand fungi including simple identification characteristics and their role in the compost process. Adrianna Marchand
Promoting Food Security Through Co-Operatives
In this the year of the Co-Operative, Goulburn Valley launches a whole-of-supply-chain food hub food co-operative and EAAA congratulates them on their work. A year after the closure of the Heinz factory and the loss of some 600 jobs, the community created this co-op promoting food security. This is taking back control of your food indeed! R Hook and A Marchand
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Are you in the Central West Region of NSW?
Central Tablelands Landcare has a couple of events coming up over the next week or so that may interest you. • a soil pit day – discussing chemical and biological soil health around a soil pit at John Blunt’s property at Lucknow on June 12th, • a wetland dam/revegetation day near Molong on the 19th June – details to be confirmed. The best way to stay in touch with Central West Landcare events is through the Facebook Page. K Cochrane & A Marchand
There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew. ~Marshall McLuhan, 1964