Engaging the Heart of the Earth with Deep Agroecology

Reader Contribution by Steven Mcfadden
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We will define our destiny by the ways we farm, and the ways we eat.

Back in the 1980s, perhaps earlier, Trauger Groh articulated that foundational idea. An agrarian adept and a CSA farm pioneer, Trauger (1932-2016) was my coauthor for both Farms of Tomorrow, and Farms ofTomorrow Revisited. His ideas made an enduring impression on me, and many others.

I felt then and I feel today that the point is irrefutable. Farms and food are the foundation of our corrupted present. They also embody the practical promise of a wholly balanced and healthy destiny on earth for human beings, animals, and plants.

Because we are at a critical stage of our group life on Earth, I wanted to emphasize this foundational idea again. That’s one key reason that motivated me to write another book, Deep Agroecology: Farms, Food, and Our Future.

After over 40 years of engagement with farms, food, and the escalating climate crisis, I regard agroecology as our best set of tools for tending land and animals, for feeding ourselves wisely, and for making an intelligent, strategic effort to stabilize the deteriorating environment.

While still forming an identity in America, agroecology is an emerging international concept. Like an umbrella, the concept stretches over a range of familiar and positive initiatives: organics, biodynamics, regenerative, permaculture, farm-worker movements, CSAs, coops, community gardens, community kitchens, farmers markets, native knowings, and a host of other sustainable pathways leading to a sane future for our children and grandchildren unto the next seven generations.

The basic idea, the spirit of agroecology, is approaches to farming and food that are clean, sustainable, humane, egalitarian, and just, rooted in ecology and other sciences, and – importantly – indigenous knowledge.

Emerging agroecological models are more than visionary. They are real, practical, clean, just, and ready for wide implementation. These models, and others, already exist. Now they require massive public attention and energy to stabilize us through these times, and to give us a solid, sustainable foundation for the high-tech, digital culture wave which continues to surge through the world.

The world’s largest financier of fossil fuels, up to this point, JP Morgan, has just this month sounded a five-bell alarm to its clients, warning that the climate crisis threatens the survival of humanity. The bank’s report said climate policy had to change or else the world faced irreversible consequences. Don’t wait for government or multinational corporations to come to the rescue. By and large, for reasons profitable to them, they are in denial. Citizens – that’s us – are going to have to do it ourselves.

Deep Agroecology

One of the key reasons for writing Deep Agroecology was to explain to readers what agroecology already is, and what it can become. We’d be making confidence-building progress if every citizen learned about the multitude of possible agroecological initiatives, and supported one or more. 

But I had additional reasons for adding the concept of “deep” to agroecology,

In my conception, deep agroecology embraces and ratifies the ideas and approaches of agroecology and strives to call wide public attention to the healing agrarian pathways it represents.

Deep agroecology also acknowledges and ratifies the insights of deep ecology. In particular, the understanding that the well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman life on Earth have inherent value in themselves, independent of their usefulness and profitability for the human world.

Deep agroecology explores realms of subtle energy and their consequential influence on farms, food, and people. It also demonstrates how native wisdom ways can help guide both cultural and agricultural practices along necessary evolutionary pathways.

Deep agroecology calls for engaging and raising both the gross and the subtle energies of farms to such a degree that they serve as oases of environmental health. In this manner they may radiate a high, clear vibration to their surroundings, including the pervasive high-tech, digital ocean of technology, and then finally outward more widely into the world through the food they produce.

Deep agroecology is a philosophical and survival approach to this imperative undertaking, with intimations of destiny and activation of our spiritual potential as human beings. While this is new territory, it’s natural territory.

I wrote Deep Agroecology not just for farmers, but for all people. We must alter course, and we must do it together. It’s going to take more than 1% of our population – the farmers who touch the earth for the rest of us.

Agroecology and deep agroecology are not my limited personal visions, but rather resonant national and global visions that have been dreamed and then acted upon by millions of people around the world. They are an expression of practical, purposeful, and realistic hope. Many millions more people, actually billions more, are needed to take up and follow the vision now. That is a development devoutly to be wished.

With agroecology and deep agroecology we engage our minds, hands, and hearts with the earth in a circle of mutual respect and upliftment. Now is the time to dig in.

Grain image by Hans Braxmeir, Pixbay.com.  Book cover by Angela Werneke, River Light Media


Independent journalist Steven McFadden is rooted in cyberspace atDeepAgroecology.net. Information about his wider work and all of his nonfiction books is available at Chiron-Communications.com. You can read all of Steven’s Mother Earth News blog postshere.


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