The Six Classic Books on Organic Growing

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It’s Sunday night and I’m on my laptop to begin this passionate subject – Organics!

My mind was whizzing with random topics and bits of information to write on this column. I realized then that the best way to start is with history. The past can reveal so many hidden secrets that the world is now re-discovering.

It is only a matter of a hundred years that such change has occurred — and thankfully grandmothers still exist to tell us to treat a cold with honey and basil!

For every problem we recognize with our current living system that is incompatible with nature, we need to look into old knowledge banks.

Our ancestors, wore clothes, cooked food, had shelter and traveled extensively, sans technology. We struggle to do the same in this generation of automatic, disposable culture without harming the environment.

Organic farming is rooted in ancient knowledge passed down through generations.
–David Suzuki

Hence I’m going to suggest some reading material to begin with. The books are by pioneers who were disturbed by the technological high and finally found their ways to a better and greener living.

Though the books are based on Agriculture, we need to understand where our food comes from and make right choices. Personally, reading them has taught me to respect the existence of matter, living and non-living in this chain called LIFE.

The One-Straw Revolution – Masanobu Fukoka
A Japanese Agricultural Scientist was in dilemma with his spiritual principles and the science he was practicing. He left his job and went back to his father’s farm and practiced Agriculture. The author takes you through a journey of revelation. He went on to become the Father of Natural Farming and Do-Nothing Farming. This book is a must for all those who wish to understand the difference of Organic and Conventional Agriculture.

Silent Spring – Rachel Carson
By the conventional practices and hazardous pesticides like DDT, we destroy several eco-systems that thrive and survive in farms. This natural historian writes on how pesticides have affected birds and the environment. She chose to call her book so, as the birds of the Spring season, were no longer heard chirping.

Ancient Roots, New Shoots : Endogenous Development in Practice – Bertus Haverkort, Katrien van ‘t Hooft & Wim Hiemstra (eds)
The Present global problems of poverty, ecological destruction and loss of cultural diversity call for innovative solutions. This book presents a number of field experiences of endogenous development, or development from within, in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, South America and Europe. With a good balance of theory and practice, this book can be immensely useful to development practitioners, researchers and policy makers, especially in the fields of rural development, agriculture, natural resource management and health

An Agricultural Testament – Sir Albert Howard
The author worked in India when the country was still under the British Empire. He came to spread the use of chemical fertilizers but after 25 years, left with the understanding of nature. By working with poor farmers he understood a great deal of traditional farming practices in relation to the soil fertility that a healthy eco-system survives on.

Agriculture: An Introductory Reader – Rudolf Steiner
Steiner is the father of Bio-Dynamic Agriculture that revolves around the science of the cosmos that play a major role in the time crops are planted. This natural science is related to Vrikshayurveda (Sanskrit term to mean the Plant Life Science or the Science of Plant Life) – (Vriksha = tree + Ayur- Veda = science of life). In the Organic Revolution, Bio Dynamic Agriculture is gaining more ground and is the present trend.

Look to the Land – Lord Northbourne
Northbourne coined the word “Organic Farming”. Chapter 3 contains the differences between Organic Farming and Chemical farming. He teaches that the farm is an organism, a living entity that has a balanced organic life. The eco-system is interdependent and every creature has a role to play in this balance. He was inspired by Rudolf Steiner’s work on Agriculture. To Northbourne Organic Agriculture determines the quality of food we eat, “Food of better quality is food which has vitality, individuality, freshness; food which is grown right, not only food that looks right; food which is effective as a vehicle of life and is not either mere stimulant or mere filling”

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13 thoughts on “The Six Classic Books on Organic Growing

  1. we will not save the world by abandoning technology.
    like everything else on earth, it can be abused.
    and we have abused it,
    just like we abuse each other
    and the world around us.

    but the truth is,
    without technology
    we wouldn’t even know that we were currently spelling our own doom.
    global warming happens so slowly
    that without highly sophisticated satellite equipment
    and exceptionally sensitive weather stations
    we would not have the data we needed
    to understand the problem we were creating.

    that’s why the notorious hockey stick graph doesn’t work.
    the long part of the stick is full of pre-technology data,
    and it is lousy, unreliable data as a result.

    life before technology was hard, short, painful and diseased.

  2. Am using the computer & internet, all part of technology to reply. It is helping me to connect with people across the globe. I apologize if I have indicated that we need to abandon technology.

    But when it comes to a farm, the source of our food, and technology intervenes, you digest it. It disturbers the eco-system within the farm. The farm is a living entity and needs to be treated just as a human is. Let nature take over and it will feed you what you require. Kindly read Fukoka’s book if you can.

    I agree that our problem has arisen greatly due to abuse of technology. Thats why I have stated “automatic and disposable culture”.

    Life before technology was not necessarily hard, short, painful or diseased. Man lived beyond hundred years, those who did not, were not fit to live and hence the defective genes were not carried on to the next gen. This is the reason why the fittest survive.

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  4. I was very interested in Silent Spring and The One-Straw Revolution in six classic books. Because I am working in Japan for the education. The human race had big revolution time of three degrees before. There were some people who were advising to danger in that age. However, people did not execute the advice at that time. As a result, various problems have occurred on the present earth.

    1. Industrial Revolution of Britain

    This has replaced a lot of farmers with a lot of industrial laborers. Various problems were caused along with people’s movements from the provinces to the city. For instance, the Black Death greatly became popular and a lot of people died in Britain at that time. Their corpses were buried in land in outskirts. Pasture keeps growing up in the same place now. Cows keep eating the pasture. And BSE appeared on the earth as you know. The economic growth rate of the developing country is high-level now. CO2 exhausted on the earth by this keeps increasing. Photochemical smog generated in China is carried to Japan by the west wind recently. Children in Japan cannot play outside.

    2. Automotive Society that Henry Ford Invented

    The automotive society made us convenient. However, a lot of new problems (vehicle exhaust emissions, traffic accidents, gases prices rising, and oil wars etc) have occurred. So we should offer transportation that uses clean energy early.

    3. IT Spread

    We are the societies that can exchange it by using the Internet with people all over the world now. It seems to lack the morality of people who use this in the Internet society recently. We should keep the rules and live in the Internet society. A profitable site like 21st Century Citizen is a very welcome.

    A present computer has the ability to simulate the appearance of the earth after 50 years clearly. It’s top priority to execute all things advocated by the idea of “Taking a lesson from the past” immediately.

    The following sentences are a part of the article concerning “Rachel Carson” that has been introduced into the English textbook that junior high school students in Japan are studying now.

    Carson was a scientist who wrote anout the danger of farm chemicals. few people worried about it in the 1950s, but she did. In 1962 she finished her book Silent Spring. “Silent spring” means “a spring without life.” The book became a best-seller. It was a book that changed our view of nature. Carson was born on a farm. She loved nature all her life. She especially loved the sea. When she was a child, she liked to write. Later she wanted to be a writer or a scientist. She became both. She had cancer while she was writing Silent Spring. But she worked very hard and finished it. Some other books that she wrote are The sea Around Us and The Sense of Wonder.

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  6. i didn’t mean to imply you were being a luddite or advocating an abandonment of technology. i think we need to be conscious however, of the fine line between when technology intervenes and when technology assists. i don’t have a problem with ingesting technology, only with ingesting poison (or allowing the earth to ingest poison). a plow is technology. a tractor is technology. a seed modified to produce a more nutritious crop or a crop less susceptible to flood, drought or weed infestation is a technology. a seed modified to withstand being drown in poison is a technology we neither want to plant, nor ingest – it will itself become a poison.

    we have been lousy at learning to balance technology over the last 100 to 150 years. my only concern with looking backwards to a time before advanced technologies were available is that we will continue to fail to learn how to strike this balance.

  7. Thanks for the post – I’ve heard of some of these, but not all, and it’s refreshing to learn something new about organic gardening.

    I also recommend The Essential Agrarian Reader.

    Organic gardening and farming, agrarianism, and biodynamics are not rejections of technology, they are technologies coming from a different paradigm about connection and responsibility.


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