When, in his 1981 E. F. Schumacher Lecture, Wes Jackson gave a “Call for a Revolution in Agriculture” he was not simply talking about changing tools and techniques, he was talking about a shift in thinking, a shift of culture.
The dominant agriculture then, as now, depended on the monoculture of annual crops tilled by fossil-fueled machines and treated by petroleum-based chemicals. In this system, agricultural decisions are driven by economic considerations, human-cultural information dominates natural information. Even many of the “most ecologically correct stewards” are losing the battle against the plagues of soil erosion, declining soil fertility, super pests, and drought.
In their work to develop perennial grain crops that simulate natural prairies, Jackson and the team at The Land Institute have been following a different path, one that studies the way that “nature’s economy functions” and starts to “utilize the natural integrities of nature.”
The culture shift that will be necessary to create this new ecology is no easy matter. When asked where we should begin, Jackson suggested two themes that come from nature but also have a strong hold in our culture: redemption and transcendence.
These themes will run strong in the 35th Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures, entitled Cattle & Kelp: Agriculture in a New Economy. The lectures will be delivered by Allan Savory and Bren Smith.
Both Savory and Smith tell stories of ecological redemption through a new approach to agriculture. Both have developed agricultural models based on natural systems. And both offer methods for farming that can fix carbon, clean our waters, and produce food more abundantly. Savory has developed a “holistic management” model to reverse desertification throughout the world’s vital grasslands, while Bren Smith cultivates kelp and shellfish using a model that he has dubbed “3-D ocean farming.”
Please join us on Saturday, October 24th, in Churchtown, NY, to hear Allan Savory and Bren Smith speak in the extraordinary round barn of the Churchtown Dairy. The lecture program will begin at 10:00 am and conclude by 3:00 pm. Tours of the buildings, conducted by architect Rick Anderson, will begin at 9:00 am. Tickets include lunch and cost $100 each. Reserve your tickets through our website or by sending a check to the Schumacher Center for a New Economics at 140 Jug End Road, Great Barrington, MA 01230. More extensive biographies for each speaker are available below.
In the meantime, many of the past Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures can be read on the Schumacher Center’s website for free, listened to on archive.org, or viewed on Youtube. The lectures are also available for purchase as pamphlets for $5 or 5 BerkShares, and in eBook format on Kobo or Kindle. Just search “Schumacher Center for a New Economics” on either site. If you have a favorite local independent bookstore try linking to them on your Kobo account — that way, all future Kobo eBook purchases will support that local bookstore.
We hope to see you in October.