I have been an intern at the Green String Institute for a little over two months now. Shortly my introduction to natural process growing, under the teachings of Bob Cannard, will be coming to an end. Though I am returning to my home of the Pacific Northwest, I will be taking with me important lessons for what is actually possible in the transformation to sustainable agriculture that is needed.
There are varying thought processes that define different practices for how nature truly grows. Teachings of Masanbou Fukoka and Bill Mollison are two prominent philosophies/practices in this area. Bob Cannards life observing and interacting in a natural food system, has brought him to the teachings that I am currently receiving. Natural process farming has three main tenets (as I see it); full maturity of crop cropping systems, actively aerated aerobic compost tea, and broad-spectrum mineral application. Though there are many other practices being used on this farm, through the use of these three practices soils that have been destroyed by our previous culture are now coming back to tilth. Thus the end goal of providing for humanity while leaving the land better than when we started is achieved.
The machines and animals of our ancestors destroyed the native forests and ecosystems, replacing it with poor management. Soils became compacted, supporting low level life forms, as nutrients and minerals washed away with the feet of soil. This land is riveted with gullies that continue to form as the scars from our culture cement our attitude towards nature. But this is changing…
I’ve worked on various biodynamic, Permaculture, and organic farms—mostly throughout the NW—and none have rival the full potential that is the Green String way. Not only does natural process farming build soil, reinoculating biological communities with broad-spectrum nutrients and minerals in conjunction with soil organic matter; it is also easy. These methods are able to be applied on a large scale; big enough make the large transition we need from industrial agriculture to local sustainable agriculture and small/effective enough so we don’t repeat the same mistakes.
This has given me hope. I have hope for our future, when erratic weather conditions due to global warming, peak oil, consolidation of corporate agriculture, loss of biodiversity ,and economic/ social instability leave little room it. Slowly our culture is realizing that naturally grown food makes more sense than the herbicide ball from industrial agriculture, and that it tastes better. Slowly with time, we can make this tremendous shift back to growing our food near our homes, and we can also move into a new era where humans take responsibility for our role upon Earth and grow a future more prosperous and bountiful than ever imagined.