Organic agriculture is not some “new-fangled hippy idea”. According to written records, Chinese scientists have been classifying soils according to colour, structure and other characteristics since the Ming Dynasty (4000BC). Instructions were given on how best to cultivate the soil. Through all the generations this knowledge has never been lost and today, in rural areas of China, the farmers still show this devotion to good farming practises.
In Europe, especially from the turn of the last century, traditional organic agricultural methods have been supported by research over many decades.
- Sir Albert Howard (1873-1947): One of the first to reason that the use of synthetic fertiliser was damaging rather than enhancing the soil.
- Lady Eve Balfour (1899-1990): Following Albert Howard’s methods, she was able to heal from lifelong physical ailments.
- Dr Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925): An Austrian philosopher and scientist. He laid the foundation for the Bio-dynamic Agriculture.
- Hans Müller (1891-1988): Together with his wife, Maria Müller and microbiologist Hans-Peter Rusch, developed a scientific oriented approach to soil management. This grew out of a growing concern for the state of farms from the 1950’s on, and a realisation that synthetic fertilisers and pesticides were adding to the growing problem. The Müller-Rusch method of farming is the most widely used organic farming method today.
These short sentences on some of the most influential people of the 20th century do not do them justice. Please may I ask, if you are interested, go and read up on them. It makes for exciting and hopeful reading.
Other organic farming/gardening pioneers that you might find interesting:
Masanobu Fukooka (“The Natural Way of Farming”, Japan Publications, Inc., 1985)
Next week we will look at: Organic Agriculture in South Africa
Most of this information is taken from our publication: Essential Organics, A legacy of Irmela Reichardt. It can be found in our Price list and the Publications catalogue.