Learning Organic Farming: Looking Back or Moving Forward?


Image credit: Soil Association

From its Organic Products Awards to debating whether air freighted produce can be organic, the UK's Soil Association has long been both an advocate for, and a pioneer of, organic foods. Now their Organic Farm School initiative is offering farmers, small holders and food enthusiasts alike the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of growing crops, rearing animals, and preparing food. I just wonder if it needs to feel so folksy. There's certainly nothing wrong with the farm school program, which seems to cover everything from traditional cider making to bee keeping to sausage making to chicken rearing. And there is nothing wrong with leaning heavily on traditions of the past. After all, farmers of yesteryear have a lot to teach us about self-reliance, efficiency and avoiding waste.

WATCH VIDEO: A modern urban homestead produces food in the heart of the city.

But I can't help but worry when the educational wing of one of the leading institutions of the organic movement presents itself, as it seems to in the video below, more as a preserver of traditions than as a cutting-edge organization tackling today's food challenges. As I argued in my post about eco-modernism versus green traditionalism, sustainability advocates should look back often for inspiration, but they should never be about going back.

But maybe I got out of the wrong side of bed this morning—I'm as partial to traditional farmhouse bread as the next TreeHugger. I'm actually tempted to enroll on one of these courses myself...

Tags: Activism | Farming | Local Food | United Kingdom