Working with Nature

It's important to understand why we should work with nature in our farming and food production. To get a better understanding of why we should do this, it is worth taking a look back into humankind's distant history to see where it all came from. Some things may surprise you, others will seem like simple common sense to folks. Some of this may give you a sense that you ought to be taking more notice of the way in which nature works and the world around you and to be grateful for it.

That's because it is this world that gives you life and enables you to even be here to read this. Let's look back in time to what we may consider the dark ages, which may not have been quite as dark as we have been taught to believe.

Pagan Religions

Before Christian religions came into being, there were many different pagan groups that held many beliefs, most of which stemmed from giving thanks to nature for the blessing of life that she gives to each and every one of us. These pagan religions spanned the entire globe in cultures that, as far as we know, had no knowledge of each other. It is no accident that so many different civilizations, from the ancient Mayans in North America, the Aztecs and Incas in South America, the ancient Chinese and other Oriental civilizations to Dark Age European settlements all centered their faith on nature.

They worshipped the Sun and Moon as deities that brought life and seasons to their world. They gathered together to celebrate the cycle of crop growing and the reproductive cycles of their farm animals and gave thanks for a good season.

Especially in Europe as well as in some other cultures, the tribal leaders were women and their main deities were goddesses. "Mother" Nature was given a name, "Gaia", as were all worshipped deities. This is no accident, as the woman was revered as the vessel that brought new life in bearing children.

Meanwhile, the men used their superior physical strength to bring food to the table, build shelter and defend the settlements from others who would attempt to steal from them. The settlements worked with Nature by working the land in harmony with its needs in order to bring a plentiful harvest and minimize infestations from pests and diseases.

Growing Natural Crops

To a point, this way of life worked and it was very successful. Ways of planting crops were discovered that enabled the characteristics of certain plants to work together to ward off the pests that would attack other crop plants. Today, we call this "companion planting." The ancient settlements discovered that by recycling the parts of the crop plants that were not used or eaten in compost, that this medium could be used to re-fertilize the soil that had some of its nutrients taken by the previous harvest.

Crop fields were small enough to be manageable and large enough only to feed the settlement's inhabitants. They provided fresh crops while they were in season and grain for storage to provide food for lean times when fresh crops were not available. The knowledgeable farmers learned how to dry certain food crops so that they would also keep for long periods of time until new fresh crops became available.

No Modern Day Farming Aids

These ancient settlements did not have access to machinery or the chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and fungicides that we have today. They expected a percentage of their crops to be taken by pests and animals and ensured they grew enough to cover this eventuality.

Growing fields were divided up into four and three were used in crop rotation to minimize the build-up of soil-borne diseases and pests while the forth was left fallow, to regenerate. This created a balanced ecosystem that provided food for humans as well as a habitat for the local fauna. It was hard work and long hours needed to be put into working this way, but by the same token, many members of the settlement were kept busy with that work. There was little space for the lazy or the idle. Nature was emulated in all things.

No Room for Idleness

In nature we can see for ourselves that there is no room for idleness. Every aspect of nature has a job to perform. In a beehive for instance, if there happens to be a lazy drone that doesn't want to work as hard as its colleagues, does nature find a part time job for this idle bee? It does not. The idle bee is marched out of the hive by soldiers and stung to death.

Nature has no place for idleness and waste. Observe a pack of wolves and see how they all combine their efforts to hunt for food. A lazy wolf that would rather sit in the shade of a tree and dream is not happily fed by the pack. If it tries to muscle in on the kill, the pack shuts it out and leaves the lazy wolf to starve.

In ancient human society, these strict laws of nature were observed. Everyone in a settlement was expected to pull their weight in some manner. Different people maybe had different skills and those skills were put to good use in different areas that created a cohesive and successful settlement.

Today, we have created a welfare system that rewards lazy individuals and allows them to live off the backs of hard working people. In ancient times, this notion would not have been acceptable, because it was a case of work to produce food and shelter or perish.

Today's Understanding

Today, we are coming to better understand the way of the pagan and their rituals, beliefs and their cooperation with nature. Where only a few centuries ago our forefathers hunted witches believing them to be evil, we now understand that Wicca was and is a very real religion that is based on working and living with nature.

Today, especially in the West, we have every convenience and labor saving device we need. We can produce huge volumes of food crops using our knowledge of chemicals to fight the battle against pests and diseases, while destroying Nature's ecosystems in the relentless march forward to produce ever more.

We strip the soil bare taking all its nutrients and destroying its structure and we put nothing back. We do this year in, year out without ever allowing the soil to regenerate.

As a result, after many years of plunder, we are now seeing crops that are deficient in essential nutrients, because the soil they are grown in has died. We buy a bunch of carrots or a head of broccoli in the store and they look nice and fresh, but they contain far less in nutritional value and taste as the same crops that are grown in organically farmed, compost fed soil.

Can We Go Back?

We can return to a more sustainable way of farming. We have that choice. We can use modern machinery and techniques in different ways to produce more worthwhile crops while giving something back to the land that we take from.

Most farmers overproduce to an unprecedented degree and this overproduction is often wasted, or sold off cheaply to third world countries that it appears would rather spend their money on buying guns and munitions than creating sustainable agriculture for themselves. We can cut back on production and start rotating crops, leaving a field fallow for a year and watching Nature's ecosystems recover and thrive once more in a kind of organic sanity that cold potentially prevail.

We can do this, if only those in the industry would be willing to make the changes. They will never do so while the power of the supermarket chains drive their business and artificially force prices as low as they can go so that they can make the maximum profits for themselves.

Consumer pressure is the only way to force huge companies to change their ways of working. If the majority of consumers simply don't care, are not aware or don't want to be aware, then nothing will change. It's up to you to make your voice heard. How loud can you shout?