Tuesday, 13 January 2015

What's wrong with Intensive Farming - and how can us 'reconnecting' with nature change things?


I can't help wondering how many more species of flora and fauna will be taken to the brink before we realise our current farming practices are completely and utterly unsustainable?

We live in a dangerously blinkered, confusing and sometimes fearsome world. Many of us are blissfully unaware that there are any problems, whilst others are frightened into believing the crazy propaganda put out by the multinational corporations; the likes of Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer, who tell us that intensive farming - with its (often genetically modified) mono crops, its emphasis on 'crop yield' and its dangerous reliance on insecticides, fungicides and herbicides - is the only way to 'Feed the World'.

Intensive agriculture may well be producing unprecedented crop yields at this point in time, but the soil these crops are grown in is becoming increasingly devoid of essential nutrients and micro-organisms; the diversity and variety of food crops is being reduced on a daily basis; the people who grow the crops are, in many cases themselves, starving; unprecedented amounts of water are being used for irrigation; and entire ecosystems are being wiped out in their wake. Anyone who dares to open their eyes and look at the facts can see that this way of farming cannot possibly be sustained and that the cost of producing food this way is too high.

The problem, I believe, stems from our way of thinking…..from our 'separateness' and from our tendency to reduce everything to its individual components and/or its monetary value. But in truth mankind cannot survive separately, on his own, in a bubble or as an island. No man is an island.

We need to recognise that we are 'a part' of the whole. Our 'apartness' and all that comes with the disconnection, is surely but steadily driving us to a point beyond which we will, ourselves, eventually be added to the list of endangered species.

As the Native American saying goes "When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish eaten, and the last stream poisoned, only then will we realise that we cannot eat money' 

But it doesn't have to be this way! I'm not going to suggest that the journey we have ahead of us is without its challenges. Of course it's not and these challenges are enormous. However the first steps could not be more simple and it's up to US (you and me) to take these steps. All we need to do is find a way to reconnect with our inner selves, with our communities and with the plants and animals we share this amazing planet with. This reconnection is fundamental if we want to bring about the changes that are needed in the world. Without being 'reconnected' we cannot deal with or fix the farming situation... or any other situation/issue for that matter. Once we recognise this fact and begin to reconnect and fall back in love with all that was once sacred to mankind, the rest will surely follow because you cannot possibly hurt that which you love or that which is a part of you.....i.e. the whole.

But where to start? 

Easy! Go outside and spend some quality time getting to know the plants living on your drive, in your garden, on the road verges, in the meadows, riversides, woodlands, moorlands, coastlines…anywhere and everywhere in fact. Don't just walk past them. Sit down and look closely at them, draw them, photograph them, look at them under a magnifying glass, write about them, talk to them, ask them if they have any medicine for you, look at the insect life on and around them, touch them, smell them, sense them, make friends with them.

Too scary? Then do it when no one is looking! Start with a pot of herbs on your kitchen table……or make a cup of delicious nettle or dandelion tea from freshly picked young leaves of these common and easy-to-recognise plants. Then, whilst you are drinking it, take a moment to say thank you to the plant who provided the leaves and just see how that makes you feel...

 

The Medicine Garden

I would like to finish by saying that a few years ago I attended a weekend course run by Rachel Corby. Rachel uses plants to heal all manner of ailments; physical and otherwise. She is a plant shaman, a writer and a gardener, and anyone who has ever had the pleasure of attending one of her courses, or accompanying her on one of her plant walks, will know what I mean when I say that through her you come to see plants in a whole different light and to form wonderful, fulfilling new relationships with them and with the world around you. From this new view point wonderful things begin to happen.

If what I have written about connecting with the world of plants has not quite made sense to you, I suggest you beg, borrow or buy a copy of Rachel's beautiful book The Medicine Garden . She explains it far more eloquently than I can.



Anyway, I’ve rambled enough now. I’d love to write more but the sun is shining and I am being beckoned outside to practice what I preach!

 Seriously though, do please have a think about what I’ve written and next time you walk past a plant…..maybe stop to say 'hello' and see what happens. At the very least I’m sure it will make you smile :-)



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