Mother Earth volume 4
In our 65th anniversary, and in the centenary of the distinguished economist (and Soil Association President) EF Schumacher’s birth, that this issue of Mother Earth opens with an article by our director of campaigns and communications, Molly Conisbee, articulating the importance of Schumacher’s ‘human scale’ economics as she challenges the need for ‘mega farms’ such as at the proposed Foston pig unit.
Oxford University’s Dr John Paull then gives a fascinating historical account of our founder Lady Eve Balfour’s trip to the antipodes in 1959 – a year long journey during which she met many of Australia and New Zealand’s finest organic thinkers. It’s a timely reminder of the wide number of influences that helped shape the Soil Association’s history; and that we are stronger when we can work together with others. One such group is Genewatch, and in this issue its director Dr Helen Wallace confronts attempts by the bio tech industry to manufacture a consensus that GM is necessary to feed the world, and argues instead that agro-ecological techniques are the fair, just and durable way forward.
Agro-ecological farming does not just mean organic – there are other farming systems that put care for the soil and ecology at their heart, as organic grower Charles Dowding examines in his report on a Soil Association soil seminar we held recently with other like minded groups. Meanwhile Dr Charles Merfield counters the enthusiasm amongst some for bio-char as sustainable farming's magic bullet; he argues we need to apply the precautionary principle as much here as we would do in other cases.
Finally it is a pleasure to conclude with Dorset organic farmer Will Best’s piece reflecting on his 40 year career in farming. In the current climate organic producers are under increasing pressure to remain afloat, and Will’s story as an organic dairy pioneer is inspirational and uplifting in equal measure. I hope you enjoy the issue as much as I have done.