No. 11 EAAA | September 2012

The Myth of Food Shortage – Featured Article

I decided to write this paper after countless discussions had in classes, countless reports in the media and general acceptance in the general public on the issue of food security, namely the supposed global food shortage. What frustrates me is that the common assumption of a global food shortage is counted as fact. What frustrates me more is that big agribusiness profits off this generally accepted assumption, leading farmers worldwide down the path of uncertainty and fragility. Not so long ago I came across a book that dramatically changed my knowledge base in respect to the ‘growing of food’ as a whole. I, like most people whole heartedly believed that with a population set to hit 9 billion people in the not too distant future, less and less people would be able to meet the daily calorie requirement. Although this may in part be true, it is not due to a lack of food. It’s got more to do with a lack of democracy. The book in question is called ‘World Hunger Twelve Myths’ and is authored by a group of experts in their field for The Institute for Food and Development Policy based in the United States. In this short piece I will do a more or less precise review of a chapter of the book titled ‘Myth 1: There’s Simply Not Enough Food’. Enjoy by going to the Read More link! Ben Humphrey.

Farmer Endorsement Program Survey – Please Have Your Say

As some of you may be aware from the recent AGM the EAAA has undertaken to build a farmer endorsement program. This project is two-fold. Firstly, to help recognise those farmers that operate under an ecological model and secondly to help build a bridge from conventional to ecological practices. We are at the stage where the input of the EAAA membership would be greatly valued so we can incorporate as many good ideas and views into the process as possible. Our membership consists of a diverse range of experience and expertise in agriculture and we feel strongly that there is much value for us all to add. To this end it would be greatly appreciated if you could jump online and spend a short while providing your input. The first part of the survey seeks your feedback on the applicability of the scheme, the second asks for your thoughts on various outcomes we have determined. Please feel free to choose those areas that interest you rather than feeling the need to complete every one (although that would be greatly appreciated!). Kind Thanks, David Savill, Secretary EAAA. Link to the Survey.

Understanding Whole System Change

“Whole system change occurs when crucial systems such as our economic, political, food, water, and energy systems are designed and run in ways that deliver ecological sustainability for all life on Earth, and social justice and spiritual fulfilment for all human beings.” David Pointon.  A traveller asked three workmen what they were doing. The first said, “I am chipping stones.” The second said, “I am making an archway.” The third said, “I am building a cathedral!” We are cathedral builders. For those of us who care about the wellbeing of coming generations our proper goal is to create a thriving, just sustainable society. In every sphere we have the means to do this. It is probably not enough to aim for ‘survival’. It is far better to aim to create a magnificent society that brings out the best in people. The needed changes are so magnificent, and so pervasive, affecting every aspect of life, that we may speak of a whole system change.”

Agricultural Education

Agricultural education tends to come in one of two forms: industrial or organic. These might also be referred to as conventional or ecological. If you did a count of the various courses throughout Australia you would probably find that 95% of the courses are based on the conventional/industrial tag. In other words they tend to mirror what happens in the community from which they draw their recruits. The only course at the university level in Australia that addresses organics or ecological agriculture is the Bachelor of Ecological Agricultural Systems at Charles Sturt University.This course has been active for a decade and continues to draw good interest from students not interested in the conventional mind set that drives industrial agriculture. Many of the students studying this program do not come off farms (but some do). The ecological approach seeks to develop a low input natural approach to food and fibre production and to give weight to the role of ecology (both natural and social) in the food production process.The approach tends towards holistic science rather than reductionist science which is the mantra of industrial agricultural education. I raise this point because of the concerns regarding climate change and falling levels of hydrocarbon based energy sources. Surely in a world beset with these two components agricultural education should be starting to think more broadly about the type of farming that will exist in 10-20 years time. Surely the future lies not in the realm of the components that comprise industrial agriculture but one that embraces an ecological approach. This point is well made in another article from Canadian soil microbiologist Chantel Hamel. In Canada the organic/ecological systems approach seems well advanced compared with Australia. They publish an informative journal which is loaded with research detail. It is from that journal that the EAAA Newsletter draws some of its material. One article in its recent edition is interesting in terms of the educational approach undertaken at Manitoba University. There the reference is to Natural Systems Agriculture. The approach taken is the same as for Ecological Agriculture except in reference to the emphasis placed on people and their perceptions. This is their information sheet on the approach taken. By Kerry Cochrane.

EAAA 2.0

Facebook and Twitter are our main networking platforms, meaning you can easily connect with the EAAA community and share your stories and comments in an informal manner, anytime you are socially networking online. There are so many ways we can share online, Social Media is everyone’s ‘local’. We look forward to connecting with you there and sharing our eco-journey together. Please ‘like’ us on Facebook, ‘follow’ and ‘tweet’ with us on Twitter and start pinning your photographs on Pinterest. You can help EAAA become an active, engaging, social eco-voice. If you have articles and stories you would like posted on your behalf, please email them and read on about our connections from our Social Media Manager, Sue Hill.

The Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance and the People’s Food Plan

The key message from the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance or AFSA, is that “There is a crucial distinction between Food Security and Food Sovereignty. Food Security is concerned with ensuring adequate access to food for all, but it does not specify where food comes from, the agricultural production values with which it is produced, or the social conditions of those producing it. In other words, Food Security is an end, but it says nothing about the means to achieve that end.” Quoted from the AFSA website. Most notably, AFSA has recently published their response to the federal governments National Food Plan (NFP) by bringing the People’s Food Plan (PFP) to the fore of discussion and action reflecting AFSA’s key message of equitable, sustainable and resilient food systems for all Australians. Do join in the discussions because if you eat food, then this concerns you. Coordinator at AFSA Nick Rose, was also on ABC Rural recently talking about food sovereignty, GM and what is misleading the public in regard to food systems. A highly recommended listen. You can also follow up on the recent progress of the People’s Food Plan, Nick’s ABC Rural interview and AFSA by going to the Read More link and satisfying your food for thought as well as the food you eat. From Adrianna Marchand

Response to the National Food Plan by Bob Phelps of GeneEthics

A meeting in Melbourne on the National Food Plan has raised many issues. It seems the NFP receives few ticks from those outside mainstream marketing. Here is a summary of the meeting provided by EAAA member and Gene Ethics spokesman Bob Phelps: “Overall, comments were critical of the draft plan for being a corporate plan that is unresponsive to Australian’s real needs, with an unrealistic and false picture of our food priorities. For instance, Roy Palmer – a majority of the fish sold in Australia is already imported so we are not secure; Michael Gourlay – organics to get a fair share of R&D resources and be acknowledged as the fastest growing sector of agriculture; Michelle Chrichton – more focus on managing invasive pests, shopper focus on convenience food is destructive and food preparation education is needed; Rachel Carey – support the health of Australians with good nutrition, do not deplete our soil and water resources; Mark Lawrence – the market has failed on obesity and diabetes so governments should intervene to ensure the public health, e.g. Korean children are weighed and measured and parents are counselled if children tend to obesity; Gyorgy Scrinis – false and misleading label and ad claims allow junk breakfast cereals (for example), to pass as nutritious; Liz Burton – reward farmers for their stewardship of the land; Julie Woods – realign agricultural priorities to reduce agricultures 33% contribution to greenhouse gas emissions; Louise Sales – more honest and open labelling essential so shoppers can decide and influence priorities; Sharman Stone – noted that most workers in her electorate depend on food industry jobs and advocated the harvesting of native animals (get over eating Skippy) and bush tucker; a community gardens person responded to DAFF’s mention of the Stephanie Alexander kitchen garden scheme that setting up the projects was little use if personnel to run them were not also funded; Bob Phelps – reality check the hundreds of millions of dollars already spent on new technology R&D before further skewing spending on GM as the paper says: “reduce Australia’s 40% food waste – ~1kg/person/day – 230,000 tonnes per day – as an alternative to mining and exporting Australia’s soils and water; 2.5 billion people live in Asia and the government wants to double production from feeding 60 million so the ‘feed the world’ mantra is bogus.” by Bob Phelps of Gene Ethics. For further details on the NFP go to Read More link and comment before 30th September.  From Kerry Cochrane

Seed Saving Love

When I started to take an interest in permaculture, one of the first things I wanted to learn but had no reference to guide me on was seed saving. The idea of seed saving felt close to the core of a regenerative way of life: life loves to live, and regenerates itself, and this can be harnessed to provide for our needs. I felt that, like sunlight and rain, seed should come for free, letting the garden function with a natural life cycle. By Joel Dunn.

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Pasture Cropping in Farming

Pasture cropping is a farmer-initiated land management system that seamlessly integrates cropping with pasture production, and allows grain growing to function as part of a truly perennial agriculture. Annual winter growing (C3) cereal crops are direct drilled into living summer growing (C4) perennial pasture grasses as the pasture sward enters the dormant phase of its growth cycle, allowing year-round growth and eliminating fallow and bare ground. This cereal production for grain and fodder is integrated with an intensive time controlled grazing system. There are important sustainability benefits of maintaining more perennial plants across agricultural landscapes, and the low input costs and flexible nature of the system make it attractive to producers. By Joel Dunn.

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Regenerative Ecological Approach to Agricultural Education – Recent Workshops

Over the last few months one of our members Joanne, has attended a number of workshops on soils, farm dams and the connection between soil health and human health. Although Joanne’s studies and experience have covered many of these topics, she has found these workshops valuable experiences for keeping up to date and ascertaining how she can can complement the messages being put out to the agricultural community. From Joanne Dodd,

Regenerative Practice of No Kill Cropping

The story of Bruce Maynard’s farming practice, detailing the tools he has embraced to achieve ecological outcomes: Bruce is the inventor of the regenerative agricultural practice of No Kill Cropping. “His farming operations reflect a desire to demonstrate true Triple Bottom Line principles, where a balance between profit, soil and landscape function, biodiversity and a healthy social life is continually being strived for. What he has achieved with limited resources is truly remarkable”.  See the video of Bruce’s story here.

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Letter to the President of EAAA

From EAAA member Paul Newell, some thoughts written to the EAAA President worth sharing.  “Dear Kerry, noting that your organisation’s main activity, is this newsletter, I wonder if this organisation may be interested in organising by, connecting apprentices and farmers, to the following ideas that might capture some interest…. The most needed “item” in all forms of “natural farming” without artificial support, is apprentices taught by successful natural farmers, without any formal education to back up “Artificial Agriculture… We need to teach, in practice, the coming generation of decision makers that “Farming” is the art of “natural increase” of all components of ecosystem, nature built freely, as eco-structure, not as expensively, people built infrastructure.” From Paul Newell

Angelo’s Demonstration Permaculture Urban Food Forest

Permaculture practitioner Angelo has the only permaculture demonstration site that is yield recorded in the Melbourne urban area. Angelo has a background that led him to put some quantitative numbers on the yields of a permaculture set up, typically restricted by size in an urban situation. Angelo gets 14t/ per acre yields with 50-100% increase expected in a year or two in a standard size back yard. Farmers in traditional farming systems yield 2t/acre of grain according to Angelo, so the difference is significant to food production. Do visit his Deep Green Permaculture website, it is inspiring.  From Adrianna Marchand.

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Declaration on Seed Freedom

Dr Vandana Shiva has long been telling the world about the importance of seed freedom (from patents) and seed saving to preserve genetic integrity of varieties that are region suitable. “To this end, we will save seed, we will create community seed banks and seed libraries, we will not recognize any law that illegitimately makes seed the private property of corporations. We will stop the patents on seed.” You can support this work by signing the Declaration of Seed Freedom at the Read More link below.  We have in order of 200 members, lets try to add 200 signatures.  From Adrianna Marchand

Declaration of Seed Freedom

Prince Charles on Ecological Agriculture

Prince Charles has long been known to be a voice for ecological agriculture. In this short video he talks about ecological farming reflecting on biomimicry and integration of humans in the farming system as well as being cautious of sustainability spin, intensive input and fertilizer pollution and non integrated approaches.Watch the video here.  From Adrianna Marchand

https://www.youtube.com/embed/IZhep_8aCNQ

Building Environmentally Sustainable Farming Communities in the South Pacific

Organic Matters Foundation (OMF) sees chemical agriculture as associated with “land degradation, loss of species diversity, loss of biological activity and lower nutrient density in our food. By empowering farmers to move towards a more sustainable model without fear of lower yields or price, we are taking chemicals out of the local ecology. Our farming approach ensures nature is treated with respect as a precious and sustainable resource.”   Go to the Read More link to find out about the terrific work of this organisation and their leading models for change in ecological agriculture and communities.  From Adrianna Marchand.

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Cultivating Communities

Cultivating Community is about people, communities, gardening, farming, the environment and food. Their mission is to work with diverse communities to create fair, secure and resilient food systems. The core purpose is to provide access to healthy, culturally appropriate food for people and families living on low incomes in the context of a whole of community approach to food security. We found this on their website, please do go there and Read More.  From Adrianna Marchand.

Climate Change Complexities in Soil

Fungi play an important role in sequestering carbon, yet the story appears to be more complex. Effective management of the nitrogen cycle in the soil increases the chances of managing carbon sequestration in soil. Read more about these complexities in a recent abstract.  From Adrianna Marchand.

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FZANS Call for Public Comment

Please see the latest Notification Circular (19-12) published on 17 August 2012. The Circular summarises work currently being undertaken or finalised by FSANZ including: Application A1071 – Food derived from Glyphosate-tolerant Canola MON88302 (call for comment).  From David Savill.

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Organic v Conventional Studies

There are studies that support both organic and conventional food on nutritional value, customer appeal, price, so on and so forth. What is important to remember, are the questions being asked in any particular study. One thing that is evident, is that what remains an intrinsically important factor, soil and land quality and lifestyle quality are rarely quantified yet are in fact represented in organic systems and are largely absent from conventional systems. There continues to be compelling evidence for the benefits of choosing organic, from an EAAA perspective, organic systems stand out on their own in contributing to ecological agriculture and human health through land ethic and practice. Read this article to get thinking about some of the issues surrounding scientific studies of both systems.  From Adrianna Marchand.

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Response to Stanford Study into Organics

There is nothing new about scientific evidence for or against organic farming. Read the latest response to a Stanford study touted as “proof” that organic is no better than conventional by Tom Philpott.  From Adrianna Marchand.

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FACETS is an Acronym for Food, Agriculture, Climate, Energy, Topsoil and Sustainability.

Recently and locally to EAAA near Orange NSW, one of a number of FACETS symposiums were conducted. Talks included powerful messages about climate change, soil health, future of agriculture, energy and what constitutes sustainablilty. If you were not able to attend, or could not tune in via ABC radio you can access some of these talks from the ABC Rural site by following the link here.   From Adrianna Marchand.

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Science: Relativism and Determinism

Using evidence to ‘back up’ science can actually have the reverse psychological effect on some people, according to a researcher at The University of Queensland.   Read why here.  From Adrianna Marchand.

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How Soil Bugs Help Plants Survive

Plants are often slow to respond to climate change. Lucky for them, microbes in the soil adapt quickly, doing most of the work so plants can survive.  From Adrianna Marchand.

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Bush Goddess Responds the the National Food Plan

To quote from the Bush Goddess blog “To ensure resilience in any system, diversity is the base resource. The more people growing food means there will be more food (not commodities) and the markets into which they sell are the key to this diversity. Selling to the two dominant supermarkets is weakening the base on which most Australian rely for their everyday food.” These and other observations pick up on the shortcomings of the federal govenment’s National Food Plan. There is still time to have your comment on this plan or contribute to the People’s Food Plan (earier in this newsletter). Read More from Bush Goddess.  From Adrianna Marchand.

Joel Salatin on Moral Acuity

Read what Joel Salatin from Polyface Farm has to say on moral acuity, here is a quote from Joel Salatin: “How much evil throughout history could have been avoided had people exercised their moral acuity with convictional courage and said to the powers that be, ‘No, I will not. This is wrong, and I don’t care if you fire me, shoot me, pass me over for promotion, or call my mother, I will not participate in this unsavory activity.’ Wouldn’t world history be rewritten if just a few people had actually acted like individual free agents rather than mindless lemmings?”  Intrinsic stuff!  Read on! From Adrianna Marchand.

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Avoiding Bio-Peversity in the Carbon Market

Beware of narrowly focused carbon solutions is the clarion call of the hard questions we need to ask ourselves in the present climate. Bio-peversity is a term used by David Lindenmeyer and others to describe negative biodiversity impacts arising from environmental ‘solutions’ that are too narrow in their focus. This terrific publication asks some pointy questions and is recommended and urged reading.  From Adrianna Marchand.

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Ecological Agriculture Off the Drawing Board 2009

Read about the inception of Ecological Agriculture Australia Association when launched back in 2009 at a Carbon Coalition Conference.  The essence of EAAA can be mapped to reflect ecological agriculture but distinctly acknowledging the place of humans in natural systems, looking also at social ecology in our landscapes.

Initial EAAA Concepts

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Farming for the Future Planet Seminar and Field Day

Speakers at this seminar will identify trends in successful innovation in farming:  Carolyn Ditchfield, Hugh Lovel, Graeme Sait, Bill Hoffman, Maarten Stapper, John Crawford, Ray Kearney (and this is just the first page of the seminar flier).  For details and regarding registering for the event, contact –admin@yladlivingsoils.com.au.  To find out more follow the link.  We hope to hear about the day from attendees and organisers to fill those in, that were not able to make it.  From Kerry Cochrane.

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Newsletter Editorial Team – Position Vacant

If you would like the opportunity to be actively involved in the EAAA newsletter as part of the editorial team, please contact us.  The opportunity exists to bring relevant, up to date, fun and informative news to our growing and diverse membership via the newsletter.  If you want to find out more or to submit an expression of interest, email the editor at newsletter@ecoag.org.au

Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you
 Wendell Berry

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