Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Ecological Agriculture Australia (EcoAg) off the drawingboard
Earlier we reported on a brave attempt to create an association/community/cluster for those who feel the time is ripe for a new form of agricultural relationships in Australia. A working party was formed out of the initial meeting at CSU in Orange and 5 "Pillars" or subject areas were nominated for discussion and purposing by smaller working parties. The following is the result of that work which the group feels is ready for comment from interested parties. Please consider and contribute.
Kerry Cochrane for the Working Party - comprising David Hardwick, Rob Fenton, Maxine Blackburn, Michael Kiely, Pennie Scott, Robert Pekin- writes:
Our name: The Working Party recommends one of two names. We welcome feedback on these and if you think they are both not to your liking by all means suggest a third name, however, more than likely, we shall go with one or the other. We wait your feedback before moving on.
Name - Ecological Agriculture Australia
Abbreviation - EcoAg Oz or EcoAg Australia or E double A
Rationale - Nice corporate ring to it. Has a classical feel which means that it has a touch of longevity. The word agriculture is ever lasting although some might argue it is dated. More than likely it will be shortened to EcoAgOz.
Name - Ecological Agricultural Society of Australia
Abbreviation - EASA
Rationale - Again a classical name. It indicates that we are a community of people with similar values. It sits along side such names as The Soils Association of Australia or The Royal Agricultural Show Society of Australia
We have included a sub heading to the name. It is the advancement of farming, food, and community (or the advancement of farming food and fulfilllment). In other words the name might be...
Ecological Agriculture Australia
For the advancement of farming, food, and community
What we have done
• We have created a diagram or symbol of the organisation. It is a nested relationship between five pillars
• The five pillars represent the engine room of the organisation
• Central to the five pillars is ecology
• The mission and objectives of each pillar has been determined. This is work in progress.
• A quote for each pillar has been provided. This too is open for comment and change.
The process that lies ahead is as follows:
1. The Working Party is getting on with writing a constitution. We envisage an association to start with. If anyone has expertise re such matters we would welcome your input. We are aiming to have this completed within a month.
2. Once completed we shall form an interim governing body to manage the process.
3. We would hope to launch the organisation at a venue to be determined but one possibility is the Carbon Coalition Conference in Orange in November. This moment could represent the beginning of the new entity with election of office bearers etc.
4. It is envisaged that each of the five pillars will include perhaps as many as five members who will largely drive that section. Each pillar will have a rep on the governing body. This is still to be worked out.
The above is a broad picture of where we are at. We would welcome any feedback
THE OVERALL ORGANISATION
Name (here) The first set of statements are for the overall organisation
QUOTATION: "To build a sustainable society, we must first be willing to rethink our fundamental concepts of science, economics, and society. We must build a new sustainable society on the philosophical foundation of a new worldview, a new approach to science, a new economics of sustainability." John Ikird: Emeritus Professor of Agricultural Economics, University of Missouri, Columbia
Vision: to develop bio-diverse landscapes, biologically enriched soil, healthy food, and vibrant communities through ecologically, holistic and ethically driven processes.
Mission: To coordinate the activities of the five pillars to ensure a strong connection between the vision and the objectives as outlined.
1. Implementation of the objectives as outlined for the pillars of the organization: ecology; farming; food; education; and, ethics.
2. To raise the profile of ecological farming processes and its relevance to the needs of an Australian society facing diminishing oil reserves and concerns regarding climate change.
3. To foster ways of thinking that enhance an understanding of biodiversity and its value, reflects awareness of connections and relationships, and appreciates the power of systems and emergent properties.
4. To appreciate that humans are one thread amongst many threads in the web of life. To recognize and respect all forms of life.
5. To promote an ecological approach to sustainability in the interest of generations to follow.
6. To enhance the development of a quality assurance program to ensure the authenticity of ecological inputs into agriculture.
“….ecology has left the biology departments of universities and migrated into every consciousness. The scientific term has turned into a worldview. And as a worldview, it carries the promise of reuniting what has been fragmented, of healing what has been torn apart – in short caring for the whole.”
Sachs, Planet Dialectics, 1999,p63
Mission: We recognize ecology – the scientific and social scientific worldview -- as the basis for the production of food and fibre and see it as the bedrock for the healthy functioning of the earth and its subsidiary systems.
1. To enliven the relationship between ecology and food and fibre production
2. To promote an understanding of and implementation of ecological principles as being fundamental to the survival of and preservation of our planet.
QUOTATION: "We are told that farmers still have a strong sense of stewardship, that they are environmentalists at heart. Perhaps this is true, but many farmers have felt compelled to do whatever was necessary to survive the relentless competitive pressures in an agricultural industry driven by the economic bottom line. Many will admit that they are doing things to the land that they don’t want to do, but feel they have no choice. The gains in economic efficiency have been impressive, but what about the ecological costs? What is the value of the health and productivity of the land? What is the value of maintaining the ability of the earth to support human life?"
John Ikird: Emeritus Professor of Agricultural Economics, University of Missouri, Columbia
"Eating is an agricultural act. - Wendell Berry
To increase the awareness, understanding and adoption of ecologically-based farming practices.
To achieve the vision we will:
1. Establish a readily accessible ‘knowledge bank’ of ecological farming ideas, proven practices and networking data (eg, group contacts etc).
2. Facilitate and establish mutually beneficial partnerships with related groups and organisations.
3. Conduct and sponsor seminars, workshops and conferences to assist in the transfer of information and techniques associated with ecological farming.
4. Facilitate and support research and development into ecological farming practices.
5. To promote carbon footprint recognition per farm as a means of increasing farmer awareness of carbon emissions and carbon sequestration potential.
6. Enable support groups for farmers engaging in ecological farming processes.
"It is a great mistake to think that food is primarily nourishment of the body. All good food, carefully selected, prepared, and presented, nourishes the soul too." - Thomas Moore, Author of Care of the Soul
To create and provide opportunities for the equitable and efficient distribution of food and fibre from farm to a range of clients including families and businesses thus increasing the connection between farmers and consumers.
1. To establish effective and efficient connections between farmers and end consumer
2. To acknowledge farmers for their efforts in farming ecologically
3. To reduce inefficient links in the supply and value chain
4. To empower farmers to diversify and strategically become the value chain
5. To encourage retailers and wholesalers to price differentiate with ecologically grown food and fibre
6. To promote the benefits of ecologically grown food and fibre
EDUCATION, TRAINING & RESEARCH
“A sustainable community cares for its own environment and does not damage those of others. It uses resources frugally and sustainably, recycles materials, minimizes wastes and disposes of them safely. It conserves life-support systems and the diversity of local ecosystems….People can do this if they make it a priority, and if they are given the necessary powers to make full use of their own intelligence and experience.”
IUCN,WWF, UNEP. Caring for the Earth, 1991, Chpt 7
Mission: To enhance the farming communities understanding of ecological agricultural principles and ways of thinking.
• To promote the teaching of ecological principles and ecological thinking skills at all levels of education
• To develop training packages to enable farmers and people not interested in a formal education to develop an understanding of ecological principles
• To communicate via the webpage to enable an attachment community to evolve that supports the principles of ecological agriculture and community marketing processes embraced by the organization
• To provide input into the national agri-food industry skills council to enable development of training competencies and their inclusion in National training packages
• Provide easy teacher access to engaging ecological agricultural learning resources.
• To support research endeavours into ecological approaches to food and fibre production or to seek funding to conduct the research
• To act as the Course Advisory Committee for the Bachelor of Ecological Agricultural Systems course at Charles Sturt University
• To be the repository for the alumni of the Bachelor of Ecological Agricultural Systems and to be managed through this agency
• To develop a professional body for the registration of graduates from courses relevant to ecological agriculture and land management [a body similar to the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science]
• Work with TAFE to develop units of competency that can be included in general agriculture qualifications and develop specific eco-ag qualifications.
• To develop a repository of engaging learning resources and activities such as the Northern Rivers Soil Health card.
• To work with state agricultural teachers and with the national body representing agricultural teachers to enable the exchange of information about ecological farming practices, healthy foods, and community marketing systems.
• Work towards getting ecological agriculture principles included in the curriculum.
Design a staff development program for agricultural teachers to develop skills in ecological agriculture.
• Provide impetus to the development of teaching and learning resources to enable agriculture and primary industry teachers to easily include this in day-to-day teaching programs.
• To develop a link between gardens and food and health.
• To promote the concept of the school garden grown with ecological sustainable practices with the participation of the children in the growing of and eating of food produced.
ETHICS & VALUES
A thing is right only when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the community [soil, water, fauna and flora, as well as people]. It is wrong when it tends otherwise. - Aldo Leopold
To promote the values and principles that underpin the development of an ecologically sustainable agriculture. Such an agriculture recognizes the intrinsic rights of all including the human and non-human worlds. These values and principles need to lead to a way of farming which enhances the environment (both living and non-living) within which agriculture operates.
In order to define a set of clear principles and values to guide Australian agriculture the organisation ratifies and adopts as its working model the 4 principles and 16 sub principles as outlined in the Earth Charter.
These 4 principles are:
1. Respect and care for the community of life
2. Ecological Integrity
3. Social and economic justice
4. Democracy, nonviolence, and peace
We endorse the Earth Charter and the expressed opinions contained therein and seek to ensure their application. In this context we:
• support an ethical framework that respects values and cares for the natural ecological systems and cycles.
• endorse the three dimensions of life, ecological, social and personal
• recognise the interconnection of organisms and the environment and their intrinsic worth.
• seek to preserve the integrity and stability of the biotic community and leave as good as or better for the following generations.
Refer to http://www.earthcharter.org.au/ for details regarding the principles.
Posted by Michael Kiely at 3:04 PM