Hello ! I am (improved ?) (fwd)
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 05 Dec 1996 09:12:08 WST
From: Victor Guest <email@example.com>
To: Permaculture WA <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Hello ! I am (improved ?) (fwd)
From: Klaus Kuelken <email@example.com>
I couldn't have said it better myself (Vic Guest)
As I read many excellent magazines on the Environment I am struck by a real
trend in magazines of this type.The trend is the emphasis put on
recycling,emission controls and concerns about the use of our forests.
We try to stop using the car and take to the bycicle as much as possible so
we can smell the roses once again.We talk about the general remoteness of
the average consumer from the real world but we hardly ever make the very
important connection which is vital to our existance here on earth.
I am talking about the land that sustains us with the abundance of
foodstuffs it produces.
I am a farmer,a small time farmer,who had the the fortune of growing up at a
time when work on the fields was still done with horses.A time when grain
was still cut by hand,and the weeding of the fields in sometimes
backbreaking labour done with the hoe.
I am not trying to make a pitch for the "good old days" ,I am trying to
find out when it all happened that farming became a business instead of a
When did it happen that we started to mine the soil instead of trying
to keep it healthy?
When did we start to raise farm animals in isolation from the land rather
than having them as an integral part of a healthy sustainable farm
I grew up in Europe before WW 2 ,and my father operated a small lumberyard
which also started to sell chemical fertilizers to farmers in the early
The fertilizers at that time were mostly byproducts of industrial processes,
and I remember one especially called "Thomas Meal" , a byproduct of the
steel industry containing mostly phosphorous.
As an apprentice on farms after the war we still did a lot of work by hand
and really appreciated the mechanisation which took away the often
beackbreaking labour.But even than there was still lots of room for many
people to find work.
Since the health of the soil and its productivity did depend on a well
thought out crop rotation,it took many different types of crops,and also
a variety of animals to make farming a sustainable lifestyle.
Fertilizer at that time started to be used more frequently,but still in
a very well thoughtout relationship to the crop rotation.
Weed control was accomplished partly by rotating crops that needed
mechanical weeding like potatoes and beets with grains. But even for grain
crops we started to develop a system of mechanical weeding that had
At the time when the first herbicides were introduced,I did not know that a
new era in farming had arrived.It was like magic.We dusted a field of wheat
that was yellow with wild mustartd with a substance called U-52 ,and in
a day there was a beautiful green field left "and we wondered where the
I think it was then that agriculture was taken over by industry and not
only did we forget most of the lessons we learned over hundreds of years but
we lost touch with nature because we thought we could MANAGE it.
I went back to this farm in the early 80's and talked to my old boss who
at that time worked on the farm together with his son and one worker.
Compared to the days of my apprenticeship when 32 people worked on the place
and produced 7 different kinds of crops and had 4 different kinds of animals
to care for,the farm was dead.
Producing only pigs raised in confinement,and two grain crops. It had just
become another business.
Do not think that I am trying to condemn what happened.It was one of
mankinds never ending ploys to make life easier.It was so simple. You put
the seed in the ground,fed it the proper amount of fertilizers, killed
everything that could possibly interfere with spray,and voila, weather
permitting you reaped immense rewards.
It never occurred to us that this could possibly be harmful to the soil,
animals, or even us because we were told that it was scientifically proven
to be harmless.
Over the last 3 decades I have watched farmers try to understand what is
slowly happening to them.They thought it was prices or markets or high
interest rates. I think what really happened was, that outsiders took
control of farming and made it into a business.
Peasants in third world countries were pushed off the land by the big
landowners who wanted to start plantations in order to access first
Those peasants now fill the slums of the big cities looking for a means
Here in Canada farmers have been pushed off the land because they forgot
to be stewards of the land and became dependent on industry in order to
increase yields which had to compensate for low prices.They were told that
farming is a business,and that in a business the bottom line is God.
"Bigger is better!" ------
"The Economy of size!" " We can feed the plants and animals and get
rid of anything that interfears !"
We have decided that we can manage a very delicate system of checks and
balances that nature has evolved over thousands of years ?
In the process we have displaced thousands of people, lost jobs, are very
likely threatening a safe water supply, diminished soil fertility,and may
in the long run produce food that is not healthy for humans.
I raise all these questions not to blame anybody, we all have been sucked
into the paradigm that man can control nature.
I like HRM because it brings together all the necessary elements of a
natural approach to the land and the living things on and in it.
It is good to have well thought out guidelines and approaches but in
the long run we have to make everybody understand that farming or ranching
should be like a vocation.
The only thing I would like to add is that consumerism is built on a slavery
model, which tries to lock you in to using a product or products.
Mortgages which lock you in place for 30 years etc. Farmings' get big or get
out mentality mean't you had to go into (slavery) debt to get bigger, we
then had interest rates which had been at 10% go to 25% and we were in the