ABOUT SAMASARA FEILDS - Why Organic Farming?

Samsara Fields

     - by JP Gural

Through 2008-2009, along with my partner So Young Lee, I travelled through many poorer regions of the world.

Please visit the section ‘a thousand paths to NOW’ for more on this journey.

This experience gave us a very shocking and intimate look at many issues facing humanity, issues such as mass urbanisation and the subsequent burgeoning of slums, the sex trade, human trafficking, economic displacement, refugees from military and political strife, post conflict, health, education and the environment.

Whilst in East Timor, we found ourselves hungry.  A great shortage of food had stricken the globe and basic commodities like rice were either prohibitively expensive, or absent completely.  There came a day when along with our Timorese hosts we cruised the nation’s capital Dili looking for a few pounds of rice.  But all stores were empty.  That day we left empty handed.  There is only so much food to go around and it is definitely not evenly distributed.

So the first act is to grow some food.  And to understand humanity’s relationship with what is put into our mouths.

Human and natural resources are being consumed and wasted through acts of greed and power.  The earth’s health has been severely compromised for economic gain.  The debacle in the Gulf of Mexico and Japan’s nuclear crisis bear proof of this.  In fact, humanity has trashed an area of topsoil equal to the surface area of the U.S. and Canada combined.  This is once fertile land that has now been rendered desert through human mismanagement.  This productive land is gone.  And what topsoil remains must somehow yield sufficient food to feed an ever-increasing population.

One of the first steps lies in getting to know the dirt.  Earth is not an inorganic layer to be exploited at will.  Rather topsoil is an amazing world of microbes and small creatures weaving their lives through the silica matrix.  One cubic foot can be the home of thousands of life forms, each one playing a role in the fertility of the soil.

Current agricultural practices are destroying our land
.  The giant tractors of the corporate farms crush the air spaces in the soil beneath their tires and effectively kill the tiny inhabitants underneath.  This is soil compaction.

The use of chemical pesticides, herbicides and fungicides is poisoning the land and the water.  Carcinogenic substances are finding their way into our bodies although the corporations that invent them assure us of their safety.  Then they deny independent research to cross-check their findings.

The case of Round-up is scary.  This wonder spray kills all things green upon contact.  Its inventor, Monsanto promises that this cousin of Agent Orange (used to defoliate the jungles of South-East Asia during the American War in Vietnam) is perfectly safe.  Gone in one week.  That outside researchers have found it lingering in the water more than 28 days later means little as government quickly approves Monsanto’s endeavours and silences the debate.  Perhaps the presence of ex-Monsanto officials in key positions (U.S. supreme court, the FDA to name but two) has something to do with this.

This gets us to Round-up ready soybeans.  Monsanto has patented a strain of genetically modified beans that resists Round-up.  For the first time in history, a corporation has patented life.  Life.  So a farmer cannot use seeds from his crop to sow the next year.  The corporation owns them and all future generations derived from them.  Are these GMOs safe?  Those who profit from their proliferation will say they are.  But do you trust these same people who gave us Agent Orange, knowingly dumped PCBs that would contaminate people and the environment and pioneered rBGV (recombinant bovine growth hormone) while ignoring the inherent carcinogenic risks?

As the Twentieth Century rolled along, people moved to the cities.  We urbanised.  At the cost of divorcing us from the land.  We grew accustomed to getting picture perfect tomatoes in the middle of winter.  This absurdity is now normal.  Produce now travels more than most people.  Picked green, foods are transported long distances, gassed, irradiated, and handled by so many hands before finally ending up on a plate.  The taste is not the only thing that is sacrificed.

So in face of this, we decided to farm in harmony with the environment around us.

I believe that life is an engaged process that demands creative solutions to challenges.  Blind consumption and slavery to the cheapest commodity are ingredients for disaster.  To know our world, one must realise the great intricacies that link all life together.  A farm is a microcosm of a great cycle of life, death and rebirth.  It should be nurtured, not exploited.

We have embarked on the path of farming as an act of defiance, a decision fuelled by the simple fact that we wanted to be the change we wanted to see in the world.

(Community Supported Agriculture)

Samsara Fields

A summer share is an up-front arrangement with a farmer whereby the consumer buys into the harvest.

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