Three Basic Rules
Trauger Groh, who was described earlier in this blog, visited several farms here in Dingle in June. He will be back soon to give some workshops. For now, here is a quote from his book Farms of Tomorrow Revisited:
The farms of tomorrow will not be just family farms. They will be so complex and diversified that they will require the cooperation of many different, unrelated, free people. Such farms will need the cooperation of several households as well as the open support of households whose members are not actively farming but who share the responsibility, the costs, and the produce with the active farmer.
Three basic rules were once given to Trauger Groh by Wilhelm Barkhoff, a lawyer who had a deep interest in and personal experience with these questions…In many years of farming Trauger has found them to be true and helpful.
The first rule, do not work too many hours. Farming is labour, craft and art. The art arises out of a deeper understanding of nature based on thorough ongoing observation, reflection, and meditation on all surrounding natural phenomena and processes. If the active farmer is working too long hours, he lacks the leisure for this. He loses his art, handing it over to extension services and agricultural schools. They themselves transform the art of farming, which is the true agriculture, into materialistic natural science and they transform the inherent, developed economics of the farm organism into a merely profit-oriented exploitive agronomy of plant and animal production. Finally the farmer is no longer, he is just applying their recipes. In the end he loses a lot of his craft depending less and less on farm skills and more and more on the supply of sophisticated machinery. He often becomes a badly paid, highly indebted labourer with hopefully high technical skills.
The second rule, buy for the farm as little as possible from the outside world. The less you purchase in the way of sophisticated tools, machinery and farm buildings the more you are financially independent and free to work with and out of nature. Use the help and skills of all friends who are related to the farm. The secret of successful Amish economic life lies in relying on human beings to work the farm and not buying too many things…
The third rule, take all the initiative for your actions on the farm out of the realm of the spirit, not out of the realm of money. What does this mean? The more we penetrate the spheres of nature, the more we become aware that what surrounds us in it is of overwhelming wisdom. What we call scientifically an ecosystem is penetrated by wisdom so that all parts serve the whole in the most economic way. In awe we stand before the higher ‘intellect’ of a bee-hive, or an ant colony. The cooperation of micro-organisms, earthworms, springtails, and others in the soil in breaking down plant material and in building humus is something deeply rational and wise which cannot be copied or synthesized by man . This we can describe as the spirit that is spread out in nature. This spirit organizes nature with the highest economy. The more we understand and follow this ‘wisdom’ in nature, this outspread ‘spirit’ the more rationally and therefore economically we can organize the farms of tomorrow. The profit motivation, applied to nature, has led to vast depletion of soil and dangerous exploitation of animals and plant material. If we follow the spirit in nature, we put into our service both the rationale and the economy of nature. This, ultimately, is the basis of the life of humanity.