To Grow, Connect and Inspire
It was in the late eighties and early nineties that Frank and I, while studying for our (mainstream) (Sub)Tropical Agricultural Science degrees, realized that Farming for the Future had to be ecologically sound, economically viable, socially just, humane and adaptable. This ‘Farming for the Future’ has many different names: organic, permaculture, biological, etc. No matter the name, the main thing is that each individual farming system needs to adhere to all 5 principles! Why? Anything less would in some way or another be detrimental to our mother, the Earth, and to all its inhabitants (plants, animals and humans).
In Central America we ventured into the world of Rural Development Aid Work to ‘help the rural poor’ and came rather quickly to the realization that (at that time) these programmes have more to do with satisfying the agenda’s of the international sponsors than with real sustainable development. Preaching the green revolution was still high on the agenda and this did not fit with our beliefs for family farming and smallholders.
We packed our suitcases and set off to the other side of the world where everything seemed ‘green and clean’!; New Zealand. That was 20 years ago. Since that time we have been involved in everything organic and agriculture related, from setting up a local Wairarapa Organics (producers and consumers) branch, working as certification officer and inspector for BioGroNZ (a nz organic certifier), running our own sustainable consultancies (EcoAgriLogic, EcoDynamics), sit on and Chair the Council of the Biodynamic Association, co-write a NZ research project, co-initiate the set up of Organic Aotearoa NZ, teach NZQA organics courses, set up and run an organic shop, initiate and run 3 CSA’s and last but not least develop a bare paddock into a sustainable family home where we find peace when sometimes it looks like the world is falling apart around us. An amazing mix of experiences that have broadened our knowledge about sustainable agriculture, the land and the people in it.
Twenty years on and it is still a struggle for agro-ecological farming principles to find a real stronghold in this world. Checking out other countries over the world, it seems that it is hard to break through everywhere. It keeps on hovering round the 3%. Although here in New Zealand, export opportunities to the developing parts in the Pacific Rim have somewhat increased, the domestic market is very stagnant. It cannot be for the signs of environmental destruction that takes place everywhere. Just this week the news showed us that CO2 emissions are the highest they have ever been. In some big cities in China, one cannot go outside without facemask, and electronic air purifying machines are becoming standard for those who can afford them! In the not so distant future, the young population will not know any different than that going outside is dangerous and can kill you! “It’s normal!” Or is it?.
Why is it that people do not want to see that we are killing this world? Why is it so hard for people to see and act?
Despite all efforts of the organic movements and despite the environmental and economic crisis. Why is it so difficult for the organic movement to convince the New Zealand consumer, producers, supermarkets, politicians, and researchers that with a truly sustainable (see definition above) agriculture, nature can be conserved, climates saved, farm animals treated better, identities of people and regions placed back, makes labour purposeful again, ties between farmer and consumers are tightened thereby helping decrease our increasing individualistic society, and last but not least helps in the fight back against obesity and other modern lifestyle diseases?
After twenty years of giving it all for a healthy Clean and Green life in New Zealand. Why are we personally still giving it all???? Our passion keeps us going, (and these days the knowledge, experience and wisdom) for a truly sustainable agriculture in New Zealand and across the globe.
So, how do we reach those in New Zealand who do want a sustainable (genuine, that is) future? The New Zealand market is so small that it too easy for the few organic vegetable farmers to be played out against each other or against mainstream growers by the wholesalers and supermarkets. As a movement we have also failed to work together and build up momentum when there were opportunities.
The alternative for us as a grower has been to go directly to our customers through our CSA, to talk directly to you, to tell our story, our ideas, share our knowledge and dreams, while (of course) providing you with fresh, local and healthy sustainable produce. We feel that we take you all with us on our journey. To Grow, Connect and Inspire! One by one, often two steps forward and one step back.
Sustainability is a journey too; there will always be room for improvements (fine tuning) either by introducing new found technology or by perfecting /adapting traditional ones to our unique WEFS farming system.
With regards to the CSA we have come a long way; doubling our CSA membership in 2013!
The United Nations has declared 2014 the International Year of Family Farming. It is a worldwide celebration to motivate active policies for sustainable development of agricultural systems based families, communal units, indigenous groups, cooperatives and fishing families. We love to take you all on our 2014 journey; growing, connecting and inspiring you further along the way with rural development that is based on the respect for the environment and biodiversity.
Your CSA shares this week:
Fruit share: 900 grams of oranges and 1 kg of green kiwifruit.
Small Veggie Share: 1.2 kg potatoes (or silverbeet), 600 grams of Broad Beans, punnet of Mung Beans, a bunch of Asparagus and a bunch of carrots.
Large Veggie Share: 1.2 kg potatoes (or silverbeet), 600 grams of Broad Beans, punnet of Mung Beans, a bunch of Asparagus and a bunch of carrots, 120 Grams of Frisee Endive greens, 150 grams of Cavolo Nero kale, 500 grams of Beetroot, 60 grams of French Sorrel and a bunch of Silverbeet or Rapini.
In the mean time, I am going to relax in a bean bag in a sunny spot in our garden and day dream of all the great things that are to happen still!