| President's Report | Holism | Water | Dual thinking | Peter Andrews
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Ecological News

Newsletter of the
Ecological Agriculture Australia Association

No. 26 | June, 2015
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  • Editorial
  • President's Report
  • University Vice-Chancellor's reply
  • A blog on holism
  • Wars over water or ...
  • Intuitive and rational thinking
  • Thinking and Peter Andrews
  • Membership
  • Join us!

Art of the month

‘Crimson-blue River’
Dr Johannes Bauer

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Rahamim Ecological Learning Community
Erin Earth



 "...what if, instead of providing the catalyst for war, water could instead be the catalyst for deep, holistic and sustainable human participation in Earth systems?"

~  Richard Widows  ~




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 ‘midwife’ 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 EAAA’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 farmers’ 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 – 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 – the Farmer Endorsement Working Party – is taking on a very difficult but potentially exciting development; the creation of a system of measurement of a farmer’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 farmer’s progress in adopting ecological farming principles. A farmer’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.

Board meeting

The AGM of the board was held 22 April, 2015. At that meeting the following were elected:

President: Kerry Cochrane
Vice-president: Sue Hill
Treasurer: Ian Reed
Secretary: Sue Hill
Sec/Treas Assistant: Meg Hoskin
Communication online: Sue Hill & Elke Knebel
Newsletter: Kerry Cochrane, Will Elrick, Richard Widows
Young Farmer Endorsement Program: Joel Orchard
General engagement: Richard Bawden, Sonia Ghiggioli, Johannes Bauer, Anthony Hooper

For a copy of the President’s Report click here. 

Kerry Cochrane

Editor | EAAA President

CSU Orange, University farm

University Vice-chancellor’s reply regarding the university farm at Orange (as stated in the President’s report above)


The failure of CSU to reply to the EAAA letter was mentioned in the Chairperson’s report. The next day after the AGM the Vice-chancellor’s reply arrived.

Without quoting the reply in chapter and verse I will summarise sections here:

“re the proposal that the Bachelor of Ecological Agriculture be offered in the internal mode at Orange I can assure you that this option was canvassed prior to the final decision to close the internal Bachelor of Agriculture Business Management offer, as was the option to offer more an experiential learning the EAAA proposes through alternative use of some of the farm land. Ultimately we were not convinced there was sufficient demand for such as course. It was noted by staff at Orange that the BEAS had previously been offered internally but was closed some years ago due to insufficient numbers. We were also cognisant that the NSW DPI has recently reduced its investment in organic farming systems and staff.”

“Finally, the EAAA notes the success of the organics and permaculture programs and farm based at the National Environment Centre of TAFE NSW Riverina and proposes this as a model we could emulate. We agree that this is a successful initiative. Senior staff from the School of Agriculture and Wine Science have visited the NEC and held discussions with the TAFE NSW staff on how students can best benefit from this facility through a seamless articulation from the TAFE NSW to the Bachelor of Ecological Agricultural Systems. This remains a priority for the school as we believe such a collaborative approach will best provide those students requiring hands-on experience with that opportunity in a way that optimises the use of land and facilities by both institutions, and similarly, will provide the opportunity for TAFE graduates to broaden and deepen their knowledge and understanding of ecological approaches to agriculture through university study.”


Editor: Your thoughts on the above would be appreciated (Editor)


A blog on holism from David Marsh (Boorowa)



David is a well known grazier in the Boorowa district which is situated between Cowra and Yass. His grazing routine is based on holistic cell grazing principles. You will find many interesting blogs on the ARLASH site written by David.
"I stumbled across this quote from Goethe today and felt it had relevance in all realms of human endeavour:

“Nine requisites for contented living:
Health enough to make work a pleasure.
Wealth enough to support your needs.
Strength to battle with difficulties and overcome them.
Grace enough to confess your sins and forsake them.
Patience enough to toil until some good is accomplished.
Charity enough to see some good in your neighbor.
Love enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others.
Faith enough to make real the things of God.
Hope enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the  future.”
~ Johann von Goethe
These nine values, prerequisites for contented living, whilst profound and meaningful, do not go far enough for those trying to manage holistically.... continue reading

Or visit the ARLASH website (

Rehydrating the earth

Wars over water or water for holistic purposes! The choice is simple, or is it! 


The wars of the 21st century will be wars fought over water – these are the now famous words of former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, words that a growing number of authors are repeating today. But what if, instead of providing the catalyst for war, water could instead be the catalyst for deep, holistic and sustainable human participation in Earth systems? ... continue reading

For the complete transcript go to
Dual thinking | Image by Tone Jordam

Intuitive and Rational thinking: Room for both


In the brave new world of holism and systemic thinking we need to draw on whatever tools the human body has at its disposal. Rational thinking certainly plays a role but so does intuitive thinking. Once upon a time and probably still in many instances subjectivity was frowned upon when writing essays at university and students would be penalised severely for it, but that tendency, from my experience, is less obvious today, although of all faculties it would be science that upholds the tradition of total objectivity more intently than the others. Is there room in science for art? Could science benefit from such as relationship? The following paper will lead your mind down interesting pathways!

Copyright © 2015 by the author(s). Published here under license by the Resilience Alliance.
Scheffer, M., J. Bascompte, T. K. Bjordam, S. R. Carpenter, L. B. Clarke, C. Folke, P. Marquet, N. Mazzeo, M. Meerhoff, O. Sala, and F. R. Westley. 2015. Dual thinking for scientists. Ecology and Society 20(2): 3. Perspective, part of a Special Feature on Reconciling Art and Science for Sustainability

Dual thinking for scientists
Marten Scheffer 1, Jordi Bascompte 2, Tone K. Bjordam 3, Stephen R. Carpenter 4, Laurie B. Clarke 5, Carl Folke 6,7, Pablo Marquet 8, Nestor Mazzeo 9,10, Mariana Meerhoff 9,11, Osvaldo Sala 12 and Frances R. Westley 13
ABSTRACT. Recent studies provide compelling evidence for the idea that creative thinking draws upon two kinds of processes linked to distinct physiological features, and stimulated under different conditions. In short, the fast system-I produces intuition whereas the slow and deliberate system-II produces reasoning. System-I can help see novel solutions and associations instantaneously, but is prone to error. System-II has other biases, but can help checking and modifying the system-I results. Although thinking is the core business of science, the accepted ways of doing our work focus almost entirely on facilitating system-II. We discuss the role of system-I thinking in past scientific breakthroughs, and argue that scientific progress may be catalyzed by creating conditions for such associative intuitive thinking in our academic lives and in education. Unstructured socializing time, education for daring exploration, and cooperation with the arts are among the potential elements. Because such activities may be looked upon as procrastination rather than work, deliberate
effort is needed to counteract our systematic bias.

Read 'Dual Thinking for Scientists'

Thinking about thinking and thinking about Peter Andrews



Few Australians can claim to have been the subject of four Australian stories but Peter Andrews can lay ownership to that claim. The first two explained the principles of Natural Sequence Farming and it was as though the whole nation starting talking water from that moment on. A few years later we had episodes 3 & 4 which were about coal and the coal that lies under the water on Peter Andrew’s former property which has since been purchased by his son. The story was about Peter’s son needing to sell the farm in the Bylong Valley due to the pressure placed on him by the mining giants.

The following is a reply from Peter Andrews to the latest series and this was passed onto the EAAA newsletter by EAAA member Julie McKay.

"Following on from episode one (Episode 3 in total) of Australian Story, Peter Andrews wrote yesterday:

Pulling all the Strings Together

Once a mistake is declared your mind is clear to develop a solution. Many fundamental errors have seen certain plants “unwanted” and destroyed. The result has been spreading deserts and drainage of groundwater. ...
continue reading

Click to read the President's Report


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