Of course there is a wide spectrum of religious and spiritual
beliefs amongst the peoples who engage in agriculture. To neglect
the reality of their existence is like entering a discussion of
agriculture, yet excluding the reality that the mental stuff
of humun beings effects the way farmers decide to go about farming.
How do you separate religious discussion from sustainable
agriculture, when the root of the movement -- the alternative
farming systems that evolved over decades-- are based on spiritual
placement of human existence in association with Nature and Farming.
My take on the situation is that sustainable agriculture philosophy
and debate take up a higher percentage of space on email, due
to the nature of the medium. At the sustainable ag conferences and
at the organizations working on the ground there is a heavy
focus on the practical. There is no lack of practical information
on sustainable agriculture. The information generated on organic
farming and sustainable agriculture over the last 10 years is quite
But what difference does it make that fact sheets and articles
on sustainable agriculture practices exist? Is it a simple lack of
information that prevents more cover crops from becoming
the norm across the cropland farming belts?
There is a complex web of factors that affect decision making
by farmers to adopt sustainable agriculture practices. There is
a whole slew of surveys that attempt to understand these factors.
Sources: American Journal of Alternative Agriculture, Journal
of Sustainable Agriculture, Oregon State University surveys.
It is helpful to keep in mind that agriculture is incredibly complex,
that geography and economics and family situations are very
different from farm to farm.... all of which impact adoption of
There is a tendency to talk about agriculture as a homogenous
entity. Yet the geographical variations in soils, climate, and
socio-economics across the vast United States renders obsolete
any assumptions that what works in one part of the country (e.g.,
organic production in California) will automatically work in
another part of the country (e.g., apple or peach orcharding in the
Eastern United States).
Maybe the thread ought to go towards what kinds of learning tools
and techniques are available to use with farm groups and extension
specialists.... so that sustainable ag practices become more widely
For example, there is a journal called "The Journal for Specialists
in Group Work". It addresses a broad range: group pshychotherapy,
company dynamics, organizational effectiveness, teaching kids, etc
It looks like a good resource for understanding how groups of people
learn and function together.
What are the reasons that farmers like Steve Groff and Greg Gunthorp
made a decision to do something so odd as to plant a cover crop, or
to graze hogs on pasture instead of confine them to pens and feed
them grain-based rations.
More importantly, what did they say at a local farmers meeting,
or what slides did they use to illustrate a point, that convinced a
neighboring farmer to go ahead and "adopt" this new practice?
> Reply-to: Gordon Couger <email@example.com>
> From: Gordon Couger <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> To: email@example.com
> Subject: New Moderated list prag-l
> Date: Sat, 15 Aug 1998 01:22:58 -0500
> The public and private discussions on this list have prompted me to
> set up a new list for practical agriculture. The welcome statement
> and subscription follows. I is a moderated list. My only wish it keep
> it on topic. I will exert as little control as possible. I know I can't
> make everyone happy but I know I can make everyone mad pretty
> It is not my intent to compete with this list but to offer a place
> practical information can be shared.
> Gordon Couger firstname.lastname@example.org
> 624 Cheyenne
> Stillwater, OK 74075
> 405 624-2855 GMT -6:00
> Welcome to prag-l a mailing list for practical agriculture.
> Prag-L is a mailing list dedicated to practical agriculture. It is hosted on
> commercial site so product announcements, service announcements and
> what have you are acceptable but limited to one a month.
> To subscribe to this list send:
> subscribe prag-l your name
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> There will be no advertising associated with the list other than
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> There will be a web site associated with the list www.couger.com/prag-l.
> I would like a resume, short biography or a web link of each member showing
> their experience in agriculture and any commercial connections to
> These resumes will be available to list members.
> As the name states it is PRACICAL agriculture. Religious arguments long
> philosophical thesis and personal attacks will not be tolerated. It is open
> all schools of thought from slash and burn to turning it into a park and
> setting foot on it.
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