Last month the EAAA applied for a UNAA World Environment Awards, 2015. In the synopsis of the report the following statement was tended:
The Ecological Agriculture Australia Association (EAAA) was formed to â€˜midwifeâ€™ the emergence of a new form of agriculture. This emergence was captured in a recent PhD thesis (2014) by Monaro Grazier, Dr Charlie Massy. Massy stated:
"A confluence of multiple and interconnected crises now threatens the self-regulating capacity of the planet and thus the future of humanity itself. Food security is one of these crises, placing agriculture front and centre in addressing this challenge. Agriculture is problematic because practices integral to industrial agriculture are known to inhibit the continuing provision of essential ecosystem services (including adequate healthy food and water). This thesis explores both the reasons why traditional agricultural practices fail, and the rise of a change-oriented new-organic agriculture that is taking their place."
The new-organics referred to is a euphemism for ecological agriculture.
Ecological agriculture is based on systems science and includes both natural and social ecology as major components. Where industrial agriculture is about reductionism in thinking, ecological agriculture is about holism. Holism permits a greater breadth of thinking which embraces the needs of the environment, the needs of individuals and communities, and the production of food and fibre in the required quantities to feed a growing population.
The EAAA is but one indicator of a break from tradition where assumptions, which have driven conventional (industrial) agriculture, are being challenged. This is a healthy situation for Australian agriculture since it encourages debate and reflection on what we do and why we do what we do.
Since its inception the EAAA has provided:
- information on food and fibre issue through its newsletter
- conducted a workshop on transformational change
- assisted in the design of a curriculum for a new degree in agroecology at Thurgoona TAFE
- created a community of scholars from overseas who are kept in contact with ecological news via our newsletter
- lobbied government and universities re agricultural issues
- created a vibrant social media network involving Facebook & Twitter
- created a webpage that is full of engagement
- surveyed members to determine the need for a professional association
The EAAAâ€™s purpose is to create a sustainable industry that preserves ecosystems, develops people and communities, and produces food and fibre of sufficient quality and quantity. Where industrial agriculture grew on the back of the chemical industry, particularly from the mid 20th
Century onwards, ecological agriculture needs to develop farmersâ€™ knowledge of natural ecosystems and how they function, and the importance of social ecology, to life.
End of statement.
4 Weeks later:
Since writing the above we can report that a committee has been formed to progress two major initiatives â€“ the Institute and the Farmer Endorsement Program
The Institute comprises a team of 10 with backgrounds in farming, science, education, research and public service. We are committing ourselves to a process which ultimately will lead to the formation of a professional association. The first major meeting of the Working Party took place on Wednesday 20 May and this led to the beginnings of our vision and mission statements and goals. Those on the Institute Working Party comprise Kerry Cochrane, Sue Hill, Mary Cole, Julie Weatherhead, David Tayler, Gerhard Gresser, Richard Widows, Rosemary Hook, Ben Gleeson, David Hardwick, Anthony Hooper and Michael Croft.
As stated at the meeting one of the difficulties of introducing a new framework of thinking about agriculture is the absence of a professional association to give authenticity to it and to support it in the wider community. It would not be appropriate to seek membership of a similar institute such as the Institute of Agricultural Science & Technology since we are talking about a different paradigm of thought, which does not mix well with the conventional reductionist paradigm. Perhaps in time this might emerge but for the moment it is appropriate that holistic science and systemic thinking has its own domain.
The other entity â€“ the Farmer Endorsement Working Party â€“ is taking on a very difficult but potentially exciting development; the creation of a system of measurement of a farmerâ€™s engagement with an ecological approach. We are not seeking a rigorous inspection system as one has with organic certification but more of an honesty system involved peer review assessment of a farmerâ€™s progress in adopting ecological farming principles. A farmerâ€™s status needs to be stated online and available for all to read. In addition, we are talking about a process which is ongoing and involves training sessions. This is a tall order but providing farmers can state their current status given the principles of ecological thinking and doing then they are more able to plot a course to develop that knowledge.
It is also envisaged that consumers need to connect with producers and to learn about what they do and why they do it. If a farmer is prepared to reveal their approach re food and fibre production and how they are designing pathways to become ecological, then consumers (we imagine) would be prepared to vote with their money.
The newsletter will keep you up to date with progress.
The AGM of the board was held 22 April, 2015. At that meeting the following were elected:
Sue Hill & Elke Knebel
Kerry Cochrane, Will Elrick, Richard Widows
Young Farmer Endorsement Program:
Richard Bawden, Sonia Ghiggioli, Johannes Bauer, Anthony Hooper
For a copy of the Presidentâ€™s Report click here.
Editor | EAAA President