No. 4 EAAA | August 2011

Welcome to the Ecological Agriculture Australia Association (EAAA) Newsletter

The Ecological Agriculture Australia Association (EAAA) was formed in November 2009 at Orange in Central West NSW. The EAAA vision and objectives are outlined below with key foci of the EAAA nested within ecology in the management of our natural resources and the communities that reside there. The key activities of EAAA are expressed through the five pillars of ecology (natural & social), ethics, education, farming and food. The aims of the EAAA are outlined in each of the pillars, which are managed by EAAA members who express a particular interest in that area.

We invite you to become involved in creating stronger visions for ecologically sensitive approach to agriculture and horticulture and a regenerative energy in the life of rural communities.  Membership fees for 2011 are vaived and are free over this time.

Vision: to develop bio-diverse landscapes, biologically enriched soil, healthy food and vibrant communities through ecologically, holistic and ethically driven processes.

Mission: To coordinate the activities of the five pillars to ensure a strong connection between the vision and the objectives as outlined.

Objectives
1. Implementation of the objectives as outlined for the pillars of the organisation: ecology, farming, food, education, and ethics.
2. To foster ways of thinking that enhance an understanding of biodiversity and its value, to reflect awareness of connections and relationships, and appreciate the power of systems and emergent properties.
3. To raise the profile of ecological farming/horticulture processes and its relevance to the needs of an Australian society facing diminishing oil reserves and concerns regarding climate change.
4. To appreciate that humans are one thread amongst many threads in the web of life. To recognise and respect all forms of life.
5. To promote an ecological approach to sustainability in the interest of generations to follow.
6. To support policies that encourages the growth of communities as a fundamental component of ecological thinking and behaviour.

Editorial

Letters to the Editor are welcome.  Please contact us if you wish to respond.

Food for thought “You are either an ecologist or a lost soul”

The word ecology comes from the Greek ‘oikos’ and ‘logos’, ancient, sacred words. Logos can mean story, mystery or meaning, and oikos means house, home or astrological domain. Moore suggests that combined it could translate as “the mystery of being at home in this life,” on this Earth. To live ecologically you are part of life, family and community. “Getting the big and the small to complement each other is part of the world of ecology. This is where society and person come together, where science and psychology meet, where nature and the individual share the same life. Ecology is the making and tending of life”. “Ecology is basically a form of love, and only out of love for life can you find good reason for protecting your environment.” It is a ‘sacred art’ and “the primary work of us all and you are either an ecologist or a lost soul”

From an article by Thomas Moore in “Resurgence” No.219

National Food Plan, Have Your Say

The Issues paper to inform development of a national food plan is open for submissions, with the due date for correspondence Friday 2nd September 2011.  Queries can be directed to Senator Joe Ludwig (Minister for Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries:joe.ludwig@maff.gov.au) .  The full Paper can be downloaded from the DAFF website.  Issues of food security, sustainability and resilience, trade, innovation, risks and adaptability are addressed.  If you are daunted by the government’s large issues paper and the number of questions it poses, we suggest you bypass any question that is not strictly relevant to you, or and weigh in to the issues of concern for you and your community.  Also, say what you want the government to know and give as much information in support of your points.  If you require assistance, please contact us.

The time for community discussion is offered now, so please have your say on issues that are relevant to our communities, and the way you would like to see the national food plan evolve for future generations.  If informed consumer choice, genetic modification, coal seam gas, peak oil, overseas purchase of Australian agricultural land by corporations, soil health and reliance on inputs, food miles and paddock to plate or ethical treatment of animals are issues pertinent to you, you can make your submissions through DAFF or joining us on the members forum in our discussion.

Bookchin and Emergence of Social Ecology

Social ecology is a philosophy developed by Murray Bookchin in the 1960s. It holds that present ecological problems are rooted in deep-seated social problems, particularly in dominatory hierarchical political and social systems. These have resulted in an uncritical acceptance of an overly competitive grow-or-die philosophy. The complexity of relationships between people and with nature is emphasised, along with the importance of establishing social structures that take account of this. You could say that the EAAA is one such structure.

The social ecology pages of this newsletter will provide ideas and links that are designed to open our thinking to ideas that may well challenge the status quo. It should be an arena for a rich exchange of ideas and in that context I invite you to say what you need to say in the forum section of the EAAA website.

Meet Ecological Farmers

What is so special about ecological agricultural farmers? Ecopedia on the EAAA web site has a collection of farmers who farm ecologically and have good stories to tell. Why not pay the site a visit and have a look.
Available are short descriptions of:
Annemarie & Graham Brookman – Gawler, South Australia
George & Trish Parrott – BeechmontGeorge & Trish Parrott – Beechmont
Lisa McArthur-Edwards – Somersby
Alan Broughton – Strathfieldsaye Estate

Are the tools of science and the insights of inner knowing starting to come together to help reduce human suffering?

Western culture is dominated by the intellect. We prize the rational, objective mind and have put logical thinking on the throne of high achievement. And our intellect has served us well, driving remarkable accomplishments in science, medicine, and industry since the rise of reason and materialist science during the Scientific Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment hundreds of years ago.

But all is not well in the land of the cerebral cortex. The litany of our challenges, both personal and collective, is long and seems to be getting longer. Research by IONS and others into the nature of human consciousness reveals that our deeply rooted belief systems are highly resistant to change. But change they must. As Edgar Mitchell wrote in the introduction to his landmark book, Psychic Exploration, “Now is the time to develop our nonrational abilities into a ‘subjective technology’, which will begin the wedding of science and religion, reason and intuition, the physical and the spiritual.”

While neuroscience is providing insights (such as research on meditation) into aspects of human consciousness, and the field of positive psychology reminds us of our capacity to do good in the world, what else could be done to apply scientific discoveries and the depth of our inner knowing toward helping reduce human suffering.

What do you think?

Please join this discussion by sharing your response to this question in the forum on social ecology. The forum is password protected. If you have forgotten it please contact Kerry Cochrane for a reminder.

To help you with the interpretation of this question you might like to access the following articles by astronaut and co-founder of Institute of Noetic Sciences Edgar Mitchell.

The link is here.

“Agri-Culture – Reconnecting People, Land and Nature”

A book by Jules Pretty (2002, 2007)

We must question whether there is something wrong with our food and agricultural systems when in the last century, despite the increase and developments in agricultural methods and production, millions in our world are starving and malnourished or in contrast overeat or eat the wrong sort of foods which make them ill.

‘Agriculture, originally in ancient texts connected ‘agri’ and ‘cultura’ linking culture and communities with food production. Is this what is needed for sustainable agricultural systems?

Pretty says that it is time for these systems to be ‘based on more ecological principles and in harmony with people, their societies and cultures’ for which he provides supporting evidence. ‘Alternate systems can be efficient and equitable’. ‘Our daily consumption of food fundamentally affects the landscapes, communities and environments from which it originates.’

During 12,000 years of agriculture, rapid changes occurred when there was a fundamental shift in people’s thinking. It is now time for another change in our thinking and changes in society occur when enough people want that change.

Schumacher College in the UK

The EAAA is an admirer of the work of Schumacher College in Devon, England. Ernst Friedrich “Fritz” Schumacher you might remember was the author of Small is Beautiful. Schumacher College is a private educational institution that has some affiliation with a university at Plymouth. Shumacher is a green college and runs some stimulating workshops during the year and details of this can be found at their website (Read More).

The following item was noticed in their recent newsletter. It might be useful to some.

A resource for lecturers, trainers, students and professionals of any discipline who need to teach or learn about sustainability, presenting a complete ‘curriculum’ for turning good intentions into action, and aligning personal and professional actions with values and beliefs. For more information visit this link and Quote SCHU20 for a 20% discount.

Astronaut

By Benjamin Gleeson

On holiday for a few days at Depot beach on the NSW south coast last summer, my family and I went for a walk over the headland to nearby North Durras. My kids raced ahead with their cousins and my partner lagged behind with her sister so that for a while I found myself alone in silence wandering in a small patch of eucalypt forest. The path was sandy, strewn with shed gum-leaves, and bordered with bracken and burrawang ferns. The closed canopy of the spotted gums was thirty to forty metres overhead and there was little understorey to speak of. The impression was of a tall leafy ceiling supported on wide poles enclosing a spacious, open, quiet and still chamber. It struck me that this space was composed entirely of living beings like me.

In its midst I knew myself a part of a living landscape; a small part, a visitor, in awe of my fellow life-forms and the abiding suchness of this place; the calm-quiet, the stillness. It was beautiful and I became aware of …

Field Day – TM21 Bio-stimulant Trials

Greenethorpe New South Wales, the birthplace of share farming in Australia, is home to farmer David Brown who is passionate about soil health.  David has been using and trialling a bio stimulant called TM21 made by Best Australia, over some time, with the aim of increasing the population and balance of native beneficial microorganisms in the soil.  The potential benefits of getting the soil biology right, lead to improved soil structure, nutrient cycling, plant resilience against disease, increase capacity of a soil to function and sustain plant and animal health, maintain or enhance water and air quality and support human health.  In conjunction with the local Lachlan Catchment Management Authority and landholders, David is holding the second of successive field days on farm and would like to extend the invitation to EAAA.  Speakers will include David, Dr Maarten Stapper, Lachlan CMA and Barry Trethowan with a BBQ and drinks provided, on the 9th September 2011.  For more information and confirmation of details, contact David on (02) 6343 6204.

Sustainable What?

The following by Mark Bittman from the New York Times reflects a commonly held belief. Read it through, then if you want to pursue the issue more deeply follow the link provided at the end of the article.

The oldest and most common dig against organic agriculture is that it cannot feed the world’s citizens; this, however, is a supposition, not a fact. Industrial agriculture isn’t working perfectly, either: the global food price index is at a record high, and our agricultural system is wreaking havoc with the health not only of humans but of the earth. There are around a billion undernourished people; we can also thank the current system for the billion who are overweight or obese.

Yet there is good news: increasing numbers of scientists, policy panels and experts (not hippies!) are suggesting that agricultural practices pretty close to organic — perhaps best called “sustainable” — can feed more poor people sooner, begin to repair the damage caused by industrial production and, in the long term, become the norm.

On Tuesday, Olivier de Schutter, the United Nations special rapporteur on the Right to Food, presented a report entitled “Agro-ecology and the Right to Food.” (Agro-ecology, he said in a telephone interview last Friday, has “lots” in common with both “sustainable” and “organic.”) Chief among de Schutter’s recommendations is this: “Agriculture should be fundamentally redirected towards modes of production that are more environmentally sustainable and socially just.”

Bachelor of Ecological Agriculture Systems (BEAS) – Charles Sturt University

Review of the Bachelor of Ecological Agricultural Systems course at CSU is nearing an end in regard to the feedback process from students.

A review of the BEAS is taking place and undoubtedly, it is a critical moment in the life of the course. The review process involves surveying graduates, current students, and industry, to determine their points of view. The person leading the review is Dr Yann Guisard who is Courses Director in the School of Agriculture & Wine Sciences (SAWS). According to the previous Head of School at CSU Wagga, the course is now widely accepted as a viable member of the stable of agricultural courses offered by the school, and therefore CSU is keen to see it continue. At the same time, there are rumblings throughout the corridor of changes afoot which may drastically change the nature of the course.

The BEAS emphasises holism in agriculture.

Soil Quality and Financial Performance of Biodynamic and Conventional Farms

Soil Quality and Financial Performance of Biodynamic and Conventional Farms in New Zealand  (1993) John P. Reganold, Alan S. Palmer, James C. Lockhart, A. Neil Macgregor.  Biodynamic farming practices and systems show promise in mitigating some of the detrimental effects of chemical-dependent, conventional agriculture on the environment. The physical, biological, and chemical soil properties and economic profitability of adjacent, commercial biodynamic and conventional farms (16 total) in New Zealand were compared.   The biodynamic farms in the study had better soil quality than the neighbouring conventional  farms and were just as financially viable on a per hectare basis.

Agronomy for Sustainable Development

Review of scientific study into long term experiments (3 – 60 years) on the effects of organic amendments used both for organic matter replenishment and to avoid the application of high levels of chemical fertilisers.

 

SLaM

The 8th International conference of Spirituality Leadership & Management (SLaM), will be held in Sydney from the 8-11 September and promises to be a rare event in keeping with past conferences. To get a taste of the conference content please access the abstracts of the event from the SLaM web site.

CONTENTS

Welcome!

Food for thought

National Food Plan, Have Your Say

Murray Bookchin and Social Ecology

Meet Ecological Farmers on EAAA Ecopedia

Are the tools of science and the insights of inner knowing starting to come together to help reduce human suffering?

‘Agri-culture, reconnecting people, land and nature’ by Jules Pretty

Schumacher College in the UK

‘Astronaut’ by Benjamin Gleeson

Field Day – TM21 Biostimulant Trials

Sustainable What?

Agronomy for Sustainable Development

SLaM Conference

Member Community Corner

Recommended Reading

Featured Website

Keystone Question

Key Dates

EcoQuote

Membership

EAAA Community and Contributions

Newsletter Archive

 

 

KEYSTONE QUESTION

This Issue’s Keystone Question:

How does the radical become the norm and when does the definition require reframing? Bearing in mind, that at any one point, the line between the two shifts and what was once considered radical is now the norm of status quo – making way for the new radical front.

Your thoughts, reflections and discussions are welcome via the Blog or directly to the Editor via Email. Let us hear from you!

 

KEY DATES

Submissions on the ‘Issues paper to inform development of a national food plan’
are due by 5pm AEST Friday 2 September 2011 Or register to particpate in the online web cast.

Field Day – Biostimulant Trials in Greenethorpe NSW.  Friday 9th September 2011.  Attendees include Maarten Stapper.  Details yet to be confirmed.  Contact David Brown (02)63436204.

SLaM 8th Conference in Sydney NSW. 8 – 11th September 2011.  More information from theSLaM web site.

2011 Annual Conference of the Ecological Society of Australia will be held in Hobart, Tasmania 21 – 25 November 2011.

 

EcoQuote

‘As our century comes to a close and we go towards the beginning of a new millennium, the survival of humanity will depend on our ecological literacy, on our ability to understand [the] principles of ecology and live accordingly.’ – Fritjof Capra.

‘The final requirement of an ecological agriculture is an evolved, conscious human being whose attitude toward nature is that of coexistence – not exploitation.’ – Miguel Altieri.

 

MEMBERSHIP IS free UNTIL 2012

Until 2012 Memebership fees will be vaived for new members and membership is free.

To inquire about membership contact EAAA.

 

CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE NEWSLETTER AND THE EAAA COMMUNITY

Contributions to the Newsletter are most welcome and encouraged in our active community.  Send your contributions to the Newsletter via email including letters to the editor, up and coming event news, articles, photographs, and ideas for articles and what you would like to see included in the newsletter.

Blog is also available and can be accessed from the EAAA Website, it is our membership voice!

We are seeking feedback form our Members in regard to the EAAA Newsletter (via a short survey) which takes about 3 minutes to complete, this is anonymous.

 

NEWSLETTER ARCHIVES

Previous Issues or the Newsletter are available on the EAAA Website.

 

Member Community Corner

 

Intersted in becoming a member?  Membership is free for 2011. Contact EAAA here in regard to membership.

Interested in subscribing to the Newsletter or contributing to the Blogs and Forums? Use the EAAA Web Site to log into the Forums or to access Blogs.

If you would like to introduce yourself to our community via the Newsletter please email us with your story or send through articles of interest.

Recommended Reading

 

The web of life:  a new synthesis of mind and matter

Fritjof Capra

Fritjof Capra is at the forefront of the revolution in modern science which has challenged a conventional mechanistic view of the world based on the thinking of Descartes and Newton and brought us towards a holistic, ecological view.

Here, Capra offers a brilliant, radical synthesis of such recent scientific breakthroughs as the theory of complexity, Gaia theory, chaos theory and other explanations of the properties of organisms, social systems and ecosystems. His findings based on ten years of research and discussion with scientists from around the world provide an extraordinary new foundation for ecological policies that will allow us to build and sustain communities without diminishing opportunities for future generations, and come closer than ever before to answering the question, ?What is life??

ISBN 9780006547518

 

Featured Website

 

This edition’s link is with the IONS organisation and particularly a recording of Elisabet Sahtouris who is an author on planetary change and evolution. Her books are best sellers and her ideas are always worth the time of day. She was a keynote speaker at last year’s Inter-religion Conference held in Melbourne. Listen to her story via this link and see what you think. IONS is an organisation that publishes a free newsletter so that if you go into the site you will be able to have it sent to you. From time to time the EAAA newsletter will link back to the IONS newsletter and website. From a social ecology point of view it is a site full of stimulating thought.

 

Join the conversation. Comment and let us know what you think?

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