News – May 2009
Sow the Future!
With the movement growing year by year, farmers in link with consumers are promoting non-GM agriculture: together they sow wheat.
More and more people are wanting healthy food from healthy agriculture. So farmers, producers and consumers need jointly to shoulder the responsibility for providing it. They need to set their face against a future determined by genetic engineering. They sow fields of wheat to demonstrate their support for GM free, regional and autonomous agriculture. The slogan of the movement is “Stop GM – we have something better to offer!”
Change comes through first movers
Young and old sow together. In this way they take responsibility and experience directly: the soil, the field, the seeds are there; and I am the sower. The experience goes deep. The gesture of sowing is a strong symbol, at the same time as it is modest and concrete. When the plants grow, all the participants can see, month by month, how the field of wheat comes into being. In summer, the wheat is harvested, and then we eat it. The circle is complete: we eat what we have sown.
Connecting farmers and consumers
For farmers “Sow the Future” is a festival: they open their farms, they prepare their fields together with consumers, who in turn lose their economic anonymity. They use their “right to free choice” to connect for a whole year to a farm in their region. “Sow the Future” makes this possible. A child of biodynamic agriculture, it is a cultural good in the best sense of the term.
For nutritional sovereignty
“Sow the Future” is aware of its place at the heart of today’s socio-political debates. It argues for nutritional sovereignty, and against ‘capture’ by genetic engineering. At each event, a well-known public figure gives a speech warning of the dangers to society of genetic modification.
“Sow the Future” began in 2006 on one single farm; by 2007 it had grown to eight already, and in 2008 close on 4,000 people took part in 33 demonstrations in all regions of Switzerland and southern Germany. Locations and dates for 2009 can be found at www.avenirsem.ch
“Sow the Future” is supported by Fondation de L’Aubier, Montezillon NE; the seed production is by Peter Kunz, Hombrechtikon ZH.
Working with the forces of nature
Training and further education courses in biodynamic agriculture have existed in Switzerland since 1980; they won official recognition in 2004.
To think of the whole and to recognise the connections are the two conditions that must be respected when working biodynamically. Everything one does has consequences. Compost stimulates the growth of microbes and mushrooms in the earth, creating the ideal conditions for earthworms and other living creatures in the soil. With such a diverse and well-nourished fauna, plants thrive, as their aromas bear witness. Whether directly or via the feeding of animals, they in turn serve the nutritional needs of human beings.
Farms that think of the whole and respect nature, such as those working biodynamically, constitute life communities. Human beings, animals, plants and the living soil, as well as insects and birds, together comprise a whole; they interact and are related one to another. But this is not enough – the farmer needs to love to explore, discover and experience this interdependency. And for this there needs to be a sharing of knowledge, an exchange of experiences.
Professional training in bio-dynamics
This training, which began in 1980, has continually adapted to the needs and exigencies of the time, and was officially recognised in 2004. To those who would farm biodynamically, it offers both ‘theoretical’ courses and, by way of farm-based placements, practicum. Knowledge, research and practical experience are brought together in final year studies. Overall responsibility for biodynamic training in Switzerland is vested in the Verein fur biodynamische Landwirtschaft. www.ausbildung-biodyn.ch.
Continuous training that benefits everybody
The sharing of experience with colleagues is essential to the perfecting of one’s craft, the more so if such exchanges can be animated by someone with long experience. Each year the Verein organises workshops in the four regions of Switzerland. Farmers work in small groups, then present their findings to the other participants. Small groups create a space for the sharing of life-questions and direct experiences with nature. The larger groups allow for discussion of the most important questions.
In 2009 the workshops will focus on the preparations and on the social aims of Demeter (see www.demeter.ch).