Sunday, September 25, 2005

we need a spirituality of the land

Pip and I get our vegetables from the local organic foodbox scheme. yesterday the farm that grows them were having an open day where their customers could go and see where they come from and have a guided tour. i went slightly reluctantly. Pip is far more into this side of things than me and i thought it would just be a load of trendy-leftie, Guardian reading, hippie types. and i was mostly right! but i ended up really enjoying it anyway. the farmer - Ian Tollhurst - looks suspiciously like a hippy to me (see pic) and I am sure there was a small greenhouse or two that he wasn't showing us - tucked round the back with some truly organic herbs being home-grown...if you know what i mean. but it was a very pleasant afternoon, all in all.
Nature is so finely tuned to deliver fruitfulness without the need for artificial tampering. the problem is we have got so used to trying to bend nature to our will rather than working with it and allowing it to shape us. for example, in the post war period farmers were given grants to take out their hedgerows so that they could get combine harversters in and supposedly increase productivity. now they are being given grants to put the hedgerows back in because there is a recognition that the kind of biodiversity that they bring is important for fruitfulness.
Farmer Ian also told us about how they really respect and protect the earthworm population in their fields as earthworms increase nitrogen in the soil which leads to greater fruitfulness. and by looking after some species of local wasp they can keep the cabbage-white moth population down (as the wasps eat cabbage white larvae) and thus reduce damage to their cabbages without the need for spraying them with pesticides etc.they also rotate their crop cycles and leave fields fallow.
here is a place where they have learnt that working with the land rather than against us can yield enormous fruitfulness.
listening to Ian - his passion for the land and for organic farming - made me think about how us city dwellers (and I live in Oxford which is probably considered the countryside by you Londoners!) desperately need a spirituality that connects us with the land. I know that there are some great theologians working in this field (pardon the pun) - yesterday i thought i must give this area some more attention.

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