Last week being with the Eco-Farm community at Asilomar, CA assured me that the organic growers—farmers, gardeners, and all who study, support, supply, partner or ally with them—feed more than populations. As they cultivate and care for the land, the crops or animals, helping the biodiversity of flora and fauna and watersheds to flourish, these organic growers participate in a growing organic grassroots that feed our national and international spirit and the health of our body politic.
Since J. I. Rodale founded in 1930 the Rodale business in farming and publishing to focus on healing and the synergy of healthy soil and healthy people, organic growing practices and understandings have boosted what it means to see that human beings are a dynamic part of Nature and to have thriving relationships with the natural world. More than 1600 people were a part of the 2014 Eco-Farm Conference initiated 34 years ago continuing the deepening of an ecological consciousness. Some of the elders in the organic growing community convened a week earlier to reflect on what has been learned and what needs to be done.
Certainly, what has been done has included helping to generate an environmental, a.k.a sustainability, movement and many policies and laws that affect the political economy, starting with limiting damage that can be done to the biosphere. Although there is much more to be done, the near-settled 2014 Farm Bill has provisions that assist organic farming and research. Yet, in the United States, environmental laws have generally been based on the Commerce Clause in the Constitution, which recognizes Nature as property, a thing to be consumed or used.
Thankfully, in places, like Santa Monica, CA, the 20 year-old, continually updated, City’s Sustainability Plan has led to shifting the paradigm to recognize the rights of Nature in a Sustainability Bill of Rights. Natural ecosystems, like a community, have fundamental inherent rights to thrive. Those rights supersede private corporate interests. Now, any Santa Monica citizen has standing to speak for the ecosystem and, if necessary, in a court of law to defend those rights of the Natural ecosystems, particularly the watershed, within the city. Here’s an example of a local community deciding for itself how to be healthy and truly sustainable.
At the 2014 Eco-Farm conference new seeds for opening minds and practicing humane habits were planted. Visiting nearby independent organic farms and a community cannery-kitchen commenced the lessons. Later, tucked in in Asilomar’s Monterey Pine forest across from sand dunes and ocean, it was enlightening to sit in gracious spaces—architectural weaves of wood, stone and light—to converse, question, or dine with a multigenerational gathering of farmers, gardeners, students, scientists, activists, educators, merchants, craftspeople, artists, poets, physicians, academics, leaders and neighbors. Keynote speaker Dr.Temple Grandin urged us to be better observers, attentive to the details that take into consideration an animal’s thinking-in-pictures. Closing presenter Maria Rodale reminded us, as her grandfather understood, organic growing heals—in short, to Ms. Rodale, “More love, less fear.” With such consciousness, the organic community is quite an animated organic grassroots that enliven the spirit and body politic.