Organic Farming

The guiding principles of organic agriculture are holistic in nature, requiring an integrated, whole farm approach to land management, production and people. Organic farming embraces the idea of farming with nature, diversity, balance, spirituality, creativity, and localism. In 1940, Northbourne used the term ‘organic’ in his book, ‘Look to the Land’, recognising that ‘the farm itself must have a biological completeness; it must be a living entity, it must be a unit which has within itself a balanced organic life’. 

Japanese soil biologist, and inspiration for the Permaculture movement, Fukuoka recognised in his milestone book ‘The One Straw Revolution’ that nature and his own culture had been practicing socially and environmentally sustainable farming practices for centuries before the industrialisation of farming. He recognised that nature had developed systems to support healthy plants and balanced systems for millennia, and the role of the farmer was to support nature in doing the work by mirroring of natural processes with minimalist interventions. In 1978 Fukuoka reminisced about the fulfilling life previously experienced by farmers, who had the time to write poetry and witness nature and saw a spiraling trend toward working longer hours and disconnection from the experience of farming. 

In 1980, a set of principles was established for organic agriculture by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). These principles were to clarify common basic standards and guiding principles for organic agriculture and were defined as:
  • To maintain the long-term fertility of soils.
  • To avoid all forms of pollution that may result from agricultural techniques. 
  • To produce foodstuffs of high nutritional quality and sufficient quantity. 
  • To reduce the use of fossil energy in agricultural practice to a minimum. 
  • To give livestock conditions of life that conforms to their physiological needs and to humanitarian principles. 
  • To make it possible for agricultural producers to earn a living through their work and develop their potentialities as human beings.