The Biological Role and Ebb and Flow of Farming

Human nature is an interspecies relationship. Human cannot survive without the rich ecological diversity that plants provide, and is an integral aspect of the holistic farming philosophy. Nature and culture are inextricably intertwined, and the land, plants, and animals all equally contribute to the self-sustaining nature of the earth.  Humans are assumed to be the pinnacle of biological creation, and their role in a multispecies ethnography is seldom analyzed. Hawthorne Valley Farm epitomizes these basic tenets of biodynamic farming, and hearing the testimonies of those involved with the farm’s day-to-day activities really underscored this deeply rooted relationship between humans, plants and the farm as a self-sustaining organism. In the paradigm of Rudolph Steiner, Hawthorne Valley Farm shows that the overall companionship between humans and their environment is a symbiotic one. Throughout the course of my life, I have been trained to see humans as static beings that simply manipulate our surroundings rather than playing an integral part in them. “Biodynamic farming erases these preconceptions and shows that nourishing the land in turn nourishes us (Hawthorne valley Farm).” As opposed to standard, large corporation farming, it aims to produce food while establishing an ecological balance. It is vital to take a proactive approach as opposed to treating problems after they emerge. As Anna Duhon and others show us, this is undoubtedly a painstaking process that often does not reap the economic rewards that other modes of farming do. However, after hearing such poignant testimonials of the laborious process, I think that it is more important to consider what our environment is telling us about the human condition and our role is the grand biological scheme than we may assume. Agriculture is in many ways the foundation of cultural, economic and social life, and Hawthorne’s Agriculture 3.0 hopes to only make farming a viable career choice for the new generation of farmer, but also proliferate this sustainable form of agriculture that both appreciates and implements the underlying spiritual relationship that human have with food and farming. I, like many others, often don’t see and appreciate what goes into bringing our food from farm to table. Farming, particularly in an ethical and sustainable way is often thankless as we saw. The general American public has many misconceived notions about its nature, and more education about its importance and efficacy would go a long way as we shift towards a new generation of young farmers. In the area where Hawthorne Valley Farm is located, there seems to be a relatively large group of aspiring and practicing young farmers. However, these types of communities of people interested and educated in ethical and biodynamic farming are few and far in between. For this next generation of farmer to thrive, we must address legal questions of land ownership, and there must be a systematic shift away from pesticide-based, large-scale agriculture techniques. They ignore the unique mysticism of farming that is based on an ingrained recognition of the plant, animal, and human roles in the biological sphere. There is a constant flux of information and cultural constructs, and these are more deeply rooted in agriculture and our understanding of our role on this planet. The effect of farming and agriculture can be felt in all facets of our lives. It is up to the people to come together to create a shared vision for agriculture and community. The two are inextricably linked, and the solution may lie within deep connections to the ever-changing land and one another.


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