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Ecological News

Newsletter of the
Ecological Agriculture Australia Association

No. 24 | March, 2015
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  • Editorial
  • Professional body
  • Artwork of the month
  • CSG & Food
  • FEP
  • Canada Organic
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Reductionism
  • Landcare
  • IFOAM 2014
  • A marriage of art & science
  • Places you love
  • Membership
  • Join us!
Artwork of the month

Dr Johannes Bauer

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From all of us at EAAA


Australian Carbon Cooperative
Rahamim Ecological Learning Community
Erin Earth



 "...uncertainty and complexity are but two sides to the one coin." 

~  Richard Widows  ~




This editorial gets its inspiration from a new book out by Fritjof Capra & Pier Luigi Luisi called The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision. The book is a revamp of a previous book – The Web of Life – but more embracing of a holistic perspective.

Capra and Luisi discuss (in the first 100 pages) the power of the scientific model and how it has dominated life for the past 300 or so years. They then demonstrate (in the next 100 pages) the emergence of the new paradigm which relates to systems thinking and the importance of understanding relationships rather than focusing on an understanding of the parts which is what tends to happen in the scientific approach. In effect, systems thinking or systemic thought is a completely different entity to that of analytical reductionist thinking and it is the latter that dominates the mindset of agricultural management today.

Two thirds of the way through the book the authors start to inspect what is meant by ecological literacy particularly in a sustainability context. The following is a quote from the book (p.353):
“One operational definition of sustainability – to design a human community in such a way that its activities do not interfere with nature’s inherent ability to sustain life – implies that the first step in this endeavour must to be understand how nature sustains life. In other words, we need to understand the principles of organisation that ecosystems have evolved to sustain the web of life. In recent years, this understanding has become known as ecological literacy. Being ecoliterate means understanding the basic principles of ecology, or principles of sustainability, and living accordingly…….During more than 3 billion years of evolution, the planet’s ecosystems have organised themselves in subtle and complex ways to as to maximise their sustainability. This wisdom of nature is the essence of ecoliteracy.”

Our purpose, then, is clear cut. We need to become more ecoliterate. In fact, one might suggest that becoming ecoliterate should be mandatory before being given the licence to farm. Controversial I know but one needs to learn the rules of the road before driving, and the same logic applies here!

The EAAA will be running some workshops during the year on ecoliteracy.

While the following has not been organised by the EAAA it is an indicator of what is to follow.

There are two one day workshops being organised for March 28th and March 29th by Dr Mary Cole. Details at

The other workshop type will be on human ecology which looks at the way we think and act. It particularly engages participants on the connections between humans and the natural world. This workshop will be run by Kerry Cochrane details of which will be posted on the EAAA website and through Facebook.

Kerry Cochrane

Editor | EAAA President



Professional body

The formation of a professional body under the umbrella of ecological agriculture.

The Jury on this issue has not yet met. A survey has been conducted and an extensive report submitted. A committee comprising Dr Mary Cole, Julie Weatherhead, Sue Hill (researcher & author of report) and Kerry Cochrane will meet in the next couple of weeks to discuss the issues. It is anticipated that a special report will emerge as a consequence of this decision.
Our Water | Our Land | Our Future (Img Src:

Coal Seam Gas & Food



In case you were busy with the harvest or at the beach over the past few weeks and missed the fracking news on fracking the following read is sobering. It suggests that humans may have to adapt to eating coal if the trend continues: 

Read on ...
Farmer Endorsement Program

Farmer Endorsement Program


EAAA has received a number of inquiries of late re our Farmer Endorsement Program. I have to state at this juncture we lack the human resources to do anything about this but as an intent it still remains on our books. It was of interest, therefore, to receive a message from Dick Smith re his issues with the certification process in regard to Halal Certification. Here is a cut-and-paste of his response: 

You may be aware that "Dick Smith" chain franchise stores are being pressured by the Islamic Council of Australia to gain 'Halal Certification' otherwise they will be proscribed and banned from Muslim custom. 
 â€¨This is their response:



"We at Dick Smith 's have received a number of letters  from people asking if we will be putting the Muslim Halal logo on our food. 
To acquire Halal certification, payment is required to the endorsing body (the Islamic Council) and involves a number of site inspections of both our growers and processors in order to ensure that our practices comply with the conditions of Halal certification. 
It is important to note that this does not reflect the quality of the food being processed or sold – it only means that the products are approved as being  prepared in accordance with the traditions of the Muslim faith. 
We are aware of an increasing number of large companies both in Australia and overseas, such as Kraft and Cadbury, who have obtained accreditation to use the Halal logo. We don’t believe they have done this because 
of any religious commitment but rather for purely commercial reasons. Perhaps these large organisations can afford to do this.
 While we have a choice however, we would prefer to avoid unnecessarily increasing  the cost of our products in order to pay for Halal accreditation when this money would be better spent continuing to support important charitable causes where assistance is greatly needed.
 We point out that we have never been asked to put a Christian symbol (or any other religious symbol) on our
food requiring that we send money to a Christian organisation for the right to do so.
 Others would add that money paid to ANY Muslim 'organisation' (and you had better believe it: these people ARE 'organised') can easily find its way into the hands of Islamic extremist-fanatics and murderers, irrespective of assurances to the contrary. 
What other assurances do we accept from Muslims? 
Oh, that's right,
'Islam is a religion of PEACE'! 
How less Australian can companies get, than to place money into the hands of those who seek to exploit us?"

This is an example of how the leaders of Muslims in Aus/NZ are bullying large commercial organisations (especially in the food industry) into paying what is no more than blatant extortion money. The amazing part is that these weak-kneed organisations (Cadbury/ Schweppes/ Nestles/ Kraft etc.) actually pay the large sums demanded by these self-appointed religious bureaucrats. Of course, the manufacturers promptly pass this levy onto unwitting consumers as cost increases. Next time you buy a block of Cadbury's chocolate, look for the Halal Certification seal on the wrapper. So, regardless of your own religious faith, you end up subsidizing Islam.
The Council also controls the Muslim voter bloc which, as yet, does not have sufficient critical mass to make a difference - but give them time.
Several state jurisdictions are under pressure to adopt or permit Sharia Law in Marriage, Family and Property matters and some, under the delusion that they are being progressively liberal, are permitting this. This has
already happened in some local authorities in the  U.K.
Google the U.K. Education Department's current investigation into the conduct of Muslim-run schools in the 
Birmingham area of  England (

Re an addendum to the EAAA farmer endorsement mechanism.

Returning to this issue. It is not the intention of the EAAA to adopt a policing approach to certification. What we seek is an open approach where farmers are encouraged to demonstrate their intent towards an ecological approach in terms of values and ethics and how this expresses itself with their production regime. We would also seek to badge those farmers who are seen as wholeheartedly intent on this direction and making headways towards that endpoint. Their profiles would be listed online so that consumers could evaluate accordingly. All of this is wishful thinking at this juncture unless we can get some energy from those interested to drive it forward. If the concept appeals to you then please reply to Secretary Meg Hoskin

A deserving member of the EAAA Hall of Fame would be Joel Salatin. Here is an extract on his philosophy from Elizabeth Farrelly in the Sydney Morning Herald (26/2/15):
Canada Organic (Img src:

What is the state of play in Canada with organics and is there a parallel here?


The need for more organic food producers in Canada based on consumer demand could also be reflected in Australia. The following extract from the Western Producer was written up in the Organic Journal of Canada. Particularly interesting are the reasons for the reluctance to engage in organic (or ecological) farming: Read on ...
GE (Img src:

Genetic Engineering: A viewpoint. 


How should we view genetic engineering and how is its emergence linked to reductionism? Sounds academic and probably is but that is where it is useful to start this analysis because before you know it you will find the discussion is rooted in the practical activities of day-to-day life.

Richard Widows comes from Camden NSW, initially, and it was from there he studied Agricultural Science at Sydney University. Some 4-5 years later he decided to advance his knowledge of agriculture, and particularly his knowledge of holism in agriculture, by studying for a Masters in Holistic Science through Schumacher College in the UK.

[Schumacher specialises in holism and attracts students from far and wide who are interested in an approach which is the opposite to the reductionist approach that drives most agricultural courses at university]. Richard graduated last year from the Masters program and one of his first tasks was to pen the essay below in relation to reductionism and GE.
On Reductionism (Img src:

The Complexity of Reductionism: A Case Study of Genetic Engineering



As Albert Einstein famously said - “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”[1] In my opinion, there is no area where this statement holds more relevance today than in relation to our tendency to view problems in isolation, to oversimplify complex discussions - reductionism.

There can be no doubting that reductionist approaches to science have helped us achieve a remarkable ability to influence and control the world around us. Unfortunately, these same approaches have also resulted in the situation where we have influenced the world around us to the extent that our own impact on the environment has begun threatening the very existence of humanity as we know it. Read on ...
[1] Albert Einstein - [link to quote
Landcare Australia



Speaking of value of money the latest newsletter from Landcare demonstrates the strength of the national movement towards an ecological approach to farming: Landcare in Focus Magazine | February 2015

IFOAM 2014

IFOAM 2014


The international organic conference known as IFOAM is held every fourth year. Last year it was held in Turkey. EAAA member Alan Broughton was there and he has scripted this report:

"The 18th IFOAM Organic World Congress was held in Istanbul, Turkey, in mid October 2014. IFOAM stands for the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements. The current chairman is André Leu, a tropical fruit grower from North Queensland, who has just published an excellent book called The Myths of Safe Pesticides.

There were 840 participants from 80 countries, and many talks going on at the same time, making the choice of which to attend very difficult. The conference is held every three years; this is the fourth I have been to. Previous conferences were in Seoul (South Korea 2011), Modena (Italy 2008) and Adelaide (2005). Next is in Delhi, India, in 2017."  
Read on ...
Johannes Bauer

A marriage of art and science


Art and science seem odd bed-fellows but in reality they lean heavily on each other, or should. But try telling that to a science department in our universities where the trends is towards 100% science. One former environmental science academic who is mixing the two together, beautifully, is Dr Johannes Bauer of O’Connell, near Oberon. Dr Bauer is a former senior lecturer in environmental science at Charles Sturt University and The University of Sydney, and owns a 500 Ha environmental farm at O’Connell. The following paintings and descriptions demonstrate what is meant by the marriage of science and art.
Death and rebirth
"In Wishwell forest (part of our farm 4hills) the New Year’s fire of 2013/2014 has had a dramatic effect on Mountain Wattle. This Acacia, also called Broad-leaved Hickory or Tanning Wattle, which grows on the farm to 15-20 metres in height and 40-50 cm in diameter (in 20-30 years), even on poor to very poor soils (unlike Acacia dealbata), had started to populate the barren understorey in the mixed Eucalyptus rossii, E macrorhyncha- E goneocalyx forest (45-30-25 to 10-30-60) of trees between 5-15 cm BHD and 3-10 metres in height. The fire has killed about 20–80 percent varying between locations. For every killed 6-10 year old tree however 10-100 seeds have germinated, become seedlings, and now, one year later, form a dense Acacia forest layer (in particular on the broken gneiss/quartzite fell fields, a remnant of gold mining 150 or so years ago) which is around 100 cm high and will, over the next five years, grow into a dense and structured mid-storey in the Eucalypt forest. Currently, at this tender age, it is quite palatable ... " Read on ...
An homage from 4Hills to Sepp Mahler

A marriage of art & science


Dr Johannes Brauer


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Places you love

Kerry Cochrane's DVD

DVD on the existence of the EAAA and Kerry Cochrane's role in it. The focus is on people and their energies to create a different world.

The series is called ‘Places you Love’ details of which are at

The finished version of several stories have since been released and can be found at the address above. A quick link to the EAAA story is and is available on the EAAA blog.


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