[NAFEX] Beginning Farmers (x-over post)

Dylan Ford dford at suffolk.lib.ny.us
Tue Nov 27 18:19:51 EST 2007

Folks -

>From time to time people will write to the various agriculture discussion
lists to which I subscribe, stating their intent or at least desire to begin
farming, people seeking advice and direction. I have gardened for nearly
forty years and worked in nurseries and at grounds-keeping from time to
time, but do not know the nuts and bolts involved in farming firsthand to
offer any advice.

But I would like to make one modest suggestion that I think would be of
value to any would-be farmers - I recently had the good fortune of watching
a documentary film called "How To Save The World: One Man, One Cow, One
Planet," which details and discusses the work of 80 year old Biodynamic
farmer Peter Proctor (of New Zealand) enticed out of retirement by the
request that he come and share his wealth of knowledge and gentle wisdom
with farmers in India. The film follows him as he travels around the Indian
countryside visiting farms and teaching the farmers simple, inexpensive
methods of revitalizing their soils and crops and recreating a sustainable
and restorative agriculture in the devastating aftermath of the ruinous
"Green Revolution", a western-imposed, corporate-driven model of chemical
'commodity' farming which to date is responsible for the suicides of around
150,000 bankrupted and poisoned Indian farmers and uncountable acres of
chemically scorched earth.

I have been studying Biodynamic growing for a few years now, and this movie
will not teach a farmer how to do it - but it does offer an introduction to
a few of the methods which came out of a series of lectures given by the
Austrian educator and 'Renaissance Man', Rudolf Steiner in 1924 and which
were elaborated upon by many practioners in the four score and three years
since. The movie gives a very good impression of the reverence for life and
cooperation with the natural world that is at the heart of Biodynamics. The
elderly Mr. Proctor, with his physical energy and engaging personality and
sweet spirit is perhaps the best advertisement one could hope for to show
the effects of eating properly raised food throughout one's life. This
robust healthiness and happiness is also reflected in the members of the
Indian farm families who have been practicing biodynamic for some time.

Biodynamic farming and gardening methods are a bit of a tough-sell in the
west since they cannot be easily reduced to the sort of parched scientific
analysis that the western mind has been trained to expect and demand, but as
the professional agronomist commenting throughout the film admits,
biodynamic methods get consistently superior results with far less expense
and danger to the farm family, the animals, the soil, the environment and
the consumer.

I would suggest this film to anyone interested in agricultural pursuits, or
even anyone wanting to see a hopeful, positive initiative underway in a time
when it seems all we ever get is more bad news, more doom and gloom. Do
yourself a nice favor; pester your local library or video shop to get this
good movie, or buy it online.

If one is (or becomes) interested in learning more about biodynamics (and
farming in general), I would suggest joining the lively and eclectic talk at
BDNow! (Biodynamic Food and Farming Discussion) - you can join at:


and to begin reading the online materials at:




 Sincerely, dylan

Dylan Ford is the author of the proposal at www.ideaforpresident.com , a
website devoted to an idea that could provide an avenue to address pollution
issues, food safety, social justice, prison reform and healthcare.

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