When I think about conscious farming three main themes come to mind. As conscious farmers we have an awareness of ourselves and our farming system and the impact on the world beyond our farm gate. We choose to be the change we wish to see in the world. This awareness enables us to take a pro-active approach to farm management and build resilient farming systems based upon natural ecosytems.
The definition of consciousness is an awareness of one’s own existence, sensations, thoughts and surroundings. By becoming more aware, our decisions and actions are more thought out and become more deliberate and intentional. Awareness leads us to consider the impact of how we farm on others and the world, not just the impact on ourselves. It becomes more possible to live life and carry out our business authentically and based upon our own values. Our farms create quality produce which capture everything we believe in as a result. By becoming fully aware of everything around us in our farming environment it becomes possible to strike a balance between financial viability, environmental sustainability and human wellbeing.
A Proactive approach:
I often observe farmers making decisions without thinking and instead reacting from sub-conscious conditioning. Their methods of farming and patterns of thinking and problem solving may have become ingrained from an upbringing in a family in a long line of farmers. They may also be basing their decisions on what other people will think of them looking over their fence. Acting or reacting unconsciously and making the same decisions over and over based on somebody else’s beliefs and understandings of the world brings to mind the famous quote: "doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity".
As conscious farmers we fall into “reacting” until our awareness brings this to light and we consciously take responsibility for our farming business and stop looking for factors outside of the farm or ourselves to blame (the weather, the government, the banks etc etc) when things don’t go according to plan. We are no longer content to sit at the bottom of the food chain and be price takers in the market place and are more likely to be found in niche markets forging direct supply links to our customers.
Proactive farm management involves planning ahead and basing decisions on a long term view of where we want to be and taking actions to get there. We work smarter not harder. We work on our business not just in it. We actively monitor and plan for change. We design and implement resilient farming systems. We mindfully focus on what we want to create not on what we don’t want. What we resist persists. What we focus on is what we create.
This concept was explained to me beautifully recently in a story about a farmer who along with his neighbours had been focusing all of his management on control of a noxious weed. The weed continued to thrive in spite of the amount of time, money and resources being focused on it. A growing awareness enabled this farmer to make a conscious decision to shift his focus to what he did want instead of what he didn’t want and by focusing on managing pasture production instead of the weed his grass soon started to smother the weeds on his side of the boundary fence, whilst those on the neighbouring side continued to thrive as before.
This proactive attitude fosters a creative and innovative approach to farming where problems are viewed as opportunities to learn and grow. Creativity means conscious farmers are happily unique. We don’t simply imitate other farmers but may blend elements of what we see working for other conscious farmers that suit our unique situation in creating a natural farming system.
Farming in tune with nature:
Farming consciously often leads farmers to natural farming methods like biodynamics, organics, permaculture and holistic management. We may not be prescriptive with these methods and may blend elements of all three to suit our unique farm, values and goals. Observing nature and designing and implementing farming systems built on natural ecosystem processes is essential as we are conscious of our health, our community, animal welfare and environmental sustainability. We know that everything is connected.
Growing in awareness and consciously creating natural farming ecosystems is a process and a journey, not a destination. The more we farm consciously the more we will grow personally and professionally. We hope to create a space here on our Biodynamic Life website to facilitate sharing of our learnings as well as inspiration, information and resources to help you in your conscious farming journey.